Stephanie Glance doesn’t mind the snow in her first taste of December in Central Illinois.
The biting cold, however, is another story for the first-year Illinois State women’s basketball coach.
And while ISU’s trip to the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico, provides a respite from below freezing temperatures, Glance expects her Redbirds to put winning over both fun and sun in games against Nevada today at 1 p.m. and Alabama-Birmingham at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
“I feel very strongly when we travel to places like this they are able to take in the local culture and see what it’s like and enjoy some warm weather,” Glance said. “But I reminded them we are going there to win two games and not forget we have a task at hand. It’s two-fold. But if we have to prioritize, the games come first.”
The Redbirds are 5-2 and hope to carry on the momentum of a 77-51 shredding of Ball State on Dec. 9.
“We need to keep building on the first half we just saw against Ball State. We need to see that consistently at both ends of the floor,” said Glance. “We really need to have a great competitive showing in these two games.”
Senior Emily Hanley leads the balanced Redbird scoring attack with 14.0 per game. Junior Katie Broadway is close behind at 13.6 with senior Shala Jackson at 13.0.
“What we want for Christmas is two wins. That’s all we’re asking,” Hanley said. “Everybody seems really excited to get out of the cold for a few days and play some good teams and hopefully come back with some wins. The focus is definitely on winning down there, not just the sun.”
Glance hopes the two games at the Soul Ballroom at Aventura Cove Palace push her team forward in anticipation of the opening of the Missouri Valley Conference season Dec. 30 against Bradley at Redbird Arena.
“We’ve got to be really prepared and use these games as building blocks to help us when we get back,” she said. “We have four games in seven days when we return.”
Nevada sports a 7-2 record and relies heavily on a big three of 5-foot-9 senior Tahnee Robinson (22.3 points, 7.1 rebounds), 6-1 senior Shavon Moore (15.7, 8.1) and 6-0 junior Kayla Williams (9.8, 9.4).
UAB (6-3) is scoring just 58.9 points per game and giving up a mere 53.1. The Blazers are led by the 15.0 points of 5-6 sophomore Jala Harris.
“Both teams are very competitive,” said Glance. “They are beating some people that are turning some heads.”
Ball State also is part of the Caribbean Classic. The Cardinals meet UAB today and Nevada on Tuesday.
Powerful DePaul: ISU’s 100-83 loss to DePaul on Dec. 1 suddenly doesn’t look quite so bad. The No. 22-ranked Blue Demons soundly defeated No. 3 Stanford, 91-71, on Thursday.