ISU defeats Illinois in Women’s NIT
The Illinois State women's basketball team defeated Illinois 53 to 51Sunday, in a close game that sends the Lady Redbirds to the Women's NIT Final Four.
Senior Jenna Smith scored with 1:43 left in the game to give Illinois a 51-50 lead over ISU. But the Redbirds' Katie Broadway shot a three-pointer with 17.5 seconds left to regain a lead that turned out to be the final score. Two Illinois shots at the basket in the final seconds --- the first by sophomore Lydia McCulley and the rebound by Smith --- were unsuccessful.
The game was close for most of the first half, with ISU pulling ahead to a 28-19 lead with three minutes in the half. Illinois started the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 33-32 lead at the 15:53 mark. After that, the lead went back and forth the two teams, with neither one leading by more than four, up through the Redbirds' two-point victory margin.
Freshman Karisma Penn led Illinois with 13 points, while Smith followed up with 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks in her final game for the Illini.
Nicolle Lewis was the Redbirds' top scorer, with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The game was played at Redbird Arena in Normal, in front of 4,459. ISU will host California Thursday, April 1st, in the Women's NIT semifinals. Illinois finishes its season with a 19-15 record, including their first-ever quarterfinal appearance at the WNIT..