WICHITA, Kan. — The Illinois State women’s basketball team erased an 18-point second-half deficit, but came up just short in its third consecutive loss on Sunday, a 59-56 heartbreaker to Wichita State at Charles Koch Arena.
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Redbirds (10-6, 2-3 MVC) against the Shockers (9-8, 3-3).
Shala Jackson scored 17 of her career-high 25 points in the second half to lead the Redbirds’ comeback. Emily Hanley had 12 points and six rebounds for ISU while Amanda Clifton added nine points and five assists.
“Even though this will go in the standings as a loss, I am really encouraged by our effort in the second half,” said ISU coach Stephanie Glance. “The team that showed up in the second half is the one we have been looking for the past couple of games.
“I feel like we are back to where we need to be to compete in this league. I would have been concerned if we came out in the second half with the same effort we gave in the first half just because we were down again. Shala Jackson provided great energy and the team fed off that.”
Wichita State built an 18-10 lead midway through the first half with 10 of the Shockers’ first 18 points coming off ISU turnovers. The Redbirds trailed 34-21 at the half, their lowest point total in a half this season.
The Shockers opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 41-23. Illinois State battled back to make it a two-point game, 51-49, with 4:27 remaining.
After two Shocker scores, a Jackson jumper and a Hanley free throw kept the deficit at one possession, 55-52, heading into the final two minutes. ISU grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and Hanley’s layup tied the score at 55 but Wichita State countered for a 57-55 lead.
Jackson was fouled with five seconds left, but missed the first free throw before making the second to make it 57-56. ISU fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and the Shockers knocked down both free throws to extend the Shocker lead to three, 59-56. Clifton put up a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer that bounced off the far rim.
The Redbirds return home for the first time in four games Thursday to host Creighton at 7:05 p.m.