Indiana State women’s basketball team will return home Thursday and Saturday to match up against two conference teams, Bradley and Illinois State. ISU is coming off a huge victory against the Evansville Purple Aces after suffering from a three-game losing streak. The Sycamores are 5-23 on the season and 3-13 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Sycamore freshman guard Caitlin Anderson had a career night in the last game as she dropped 27 points on eight-of-15 shooting and made all of her 11 free throw attempts. She also snatched eight rebounds while contributing two assists and two steals on the night.
"I knew somebody was going to have to step-up and I just carried it over from the last game to now," Anderson said in a Sycamore Athletics post-game interview. "I'm going to keep practicing hard and working hard; getting into the gym when I have free time so I can stay up on my game."
Indiana State's first match up will be on Thursday against the Bradley Braves, who have already locked the No. 3 seed in the MVC tournament. Bradley has a 20-7 record this season and are 11-5 in the MVC. The Braves have had success these past two seasons as thisthe first time in program history Bradley has back-to-back 20-win seasons. One more win would tie the highest season win total in program history set by the 2008-09 squad (21-10 overall).
ISU looks to slow the former MVC Freshman of the Year, Braves sophomore guard Lasha Petree, as she averages 16.5 points, four rebounds and averages 32 minutes a game. She went off against the Sycamores last time they played as she posted her season-high 36 points.
“They’ve got explosive scorers,” ISU women’s basketball head coach Vicki Hall said. “You’ve got (Gabi) Haack and Petree who can put up 30, each. Defensively we are going to have our hands full.”
Bradley defeated ISU the last time they met on Jan. 5, 91-75. The Braves have won the four of the last six meetings but struggle in Terre Haute as the Sycamores hold a 29-8 record at home against the Braves. Indiana State owns a 50-28 advantage in the all-time series.
Saturday, the Sycamores will face the 17-10 Illinois State Redbirds. The Redbirds are 9-7 in the MVC after they took down the nationally ranked No. 21 Missouri State, 78-66, on Thursday last week to earn their first win over a ranked opponent in over 28 years.
“Good, I think it’s great it’s a great learning experience for our kids,” Hall said when it comes to playing teams who are just as hungry as them. “They know about Illinois State, they’re competitive and (Indiana State) are excited about re-matching and see how we made progress.”
Illinois State will be relying on the performance of senior guard Tete Maggett who is averaging 15.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The leading scorer for the Redbirds is senior forward Lexi Wallen as she is averaging 17.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game on 57% shooting.
Illinois State leads the all-time series with the Sycamores, 52-45, with Indiana State holding a 25-16 advantage when playing in Terre Haute. Earlier this season, the Redbirds beat the Sycamores 83-69 to open conference play. Maggett had 27 points and Wallen added 26 points in that game.
“It’s kind of been like watching the waves in the ocean,” Hall said. “You make big progress and other time you go back a little bit, you just gotta keep riding the waves until you get to smooth water.”