The women’s basketball team lost its fourth conference game in a row last Friday as it fell to Illinois State in front of a packed house at Illinois Central College’s Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium.
Senior Kristi Cirone led the way for the Missouri Valley Conference-leading Redbirds (17-4 overall, 8-1 MVC) – putting up 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, as well as adding 12 assists, six steals and five rebounds.
“She is just such a solid player,” Bradley coach Paula Buscher said. “She is tough in every single facet of the game, and I just have so much respect for her.”
ISU junior Ashleen Bracey also had 16 points and sophomore Shala Jackson added another 15 for the Redbirds.
Senior Monica Rogers and sophomore Sonya Harris each had double-doubles in the game, with Rogers putting up 12 points to complement 10 rebounds, while Harris added 11 points and grabbed 16 boards, 10 of which came in the first half.
While both teams ended up with the same number of rebounds at the end of the contest, Buscher said she thought that was one of the areas of the game that made the biggest impact.
“We were winning the rebound battle in the first half, which was something that we knew we needed to come out and do,” she said. “But we let them back in it, and you just can’t give Illinois State second-chance opportunities. They are too good of a team.”
After junior point guard Skye Johnson knocked down her first three field goal attempts, the Braves (14-6 overall, 5-4 MVC) were within five with 7:14 to play in the first half. But ISU was able to pull away after shooting 54.5 percent from the field and hitting 4-of-8 from behind the 3-point line in the opening period.
The Redbirds closed out the first half with an 11-0 run, allowing them to build a 43-29 lead to take into the half.
“That run made the difference,” Buscher said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort on our part because I thought we were playing hard, we just tried to do a little too much.”
Sophomore Raisa Taylor had 10 points off the bench for the Braves, while Johnson finished with nine, all of which came in the first half.
The BU bench out-scored Illinois State 18-8 in the game, but the Redbirds had more points in the paint (34-26), points off turnovers (18-12) and fast break points (12-3).
“Instead of showing some patience and waiting for a good shot, we took some shots out of our comfort zone,” Buscher said. “And when we start to do that, it gives ISU a quick rebound and a chance to do one of the things they do so well – run the ball in transition.”
The loss dropped the Braves to 13-6 overall and 4-4 in MVC play, but they were able to turn things around Sunday afternoon with an 81-62 win over visiting Indiana State.
Freshman Michelle Lund hit 4-of-10 from 3-point land and finished with 16 points to lead Bradley in the win, while Taylor and freshman Hannah Muegge each added 13.
With Bradley up only six points with 4 minutes remaining in the first half, Taylor had back-to-back 3-point-plays to finish off a 12-0 run that put the Braves in the driver’s seat.
Indiana State was led by freshman Bianca Jarrett.
Jarrett finished the game with 15 points and also added five assists.
Bradley played Southern Illinois Thursday night, but results were not available at press time.