Conference play continues as the Indiana State women’s basketball team faces the Northern Iowa Panthers Thursday. UNI is 14-8 overall with a middling 6-5 conference record. The Panthers easily handled ISU at home, winning the first meeting of the season 73-43. 

Following UNI, the Drake Bulldogs will come to the Hulman Center Saturday. Drake is one of the better teams in the conference with a 16-7 overall record, and a stellar 8-3 conference record. Drake put on an offensive show in the first meeting, winning 105-65 at home. 

ISU enters the weekend with a 3-20 overall record, and a 1-10 conference record. 

Battling hard through adversity, ISU Head women’s basketball Coach Vicki Hall sheds light on the lessons learned through the tough season for the Sycamores. 

“Things don’t always happen easy. Anything that’s worth anything in life, you have to fight for it, and you have to keep working for it. You got to keep working through it, and eventually you’ll come to it. You have to come with the right mindset, and that’s what we’re learning how to do,” Hall said. 

Last time the Sycamores faced UNI, they struggled offensively, shooting only 28.8% from the field. Another key stat was free throws. UNI went to the line 10 more times than ISU. However, Hall has seen improvements from her team in recent games defensively. 

“I was really happy with the progress we made against Valpo. We made improvements. We’re getting better, and that’s what I look forward to seeing on Thursday,” Hall said. “You can see improvement in what we’re doing.” 

The Panthers are stout on the offensive end. They have a 5.7-plus scoring margin. Additionally, their shooting 40.2% from the field, 33.0% from beyond the arc, and 78.4% from the free throw line. 

UNI is led by junior guard Karli Rucker (13.0 points per game, 39.4 field goal percentage and 35.3 three-point percentage), sophomore guard Kam Finley (9.6 points per game,), and junior forward Megan Maahs (8.9 points per game,). Maahs came back from an injury suffered against Drake in early January. She scored a career-high 33 points with 12 rebounds in an OT win against SIU on Sunday. 

Similar to UNI, Drake has a powerful offense. The Bulldogs boast a 13.9-plus scoring margin, shooting a blistering 49.0% from the field. Moreover, they connect on 35% of their three-pointers, and 78.3% success rate from the free throw line. 

Bulldogs senior guard Becca Hitner (18.5 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, and 39.0 three-point percentage) and senior forward Sara Rhine (17.8 points per game, and 7.3 rebounds) are two dominant forces for Drake. Last time against ISU, the two combined for 34 points and 12 rebounds. 

After noticing improvements on the defensive end for the Trees, it will be the biggest key for the Sycamores against two of the top offensive teams in the conference.