NORMAL -- Illinois State women's basketball home games against Evansville Thursday at 7:35 p.m. and Sunday against Southern Illinois at 2:05 p.m. provide a welcome respite from the road.

The Redbirds also will enjoy a break from their distressing performances while winning just two of seven Missouri Valley Conference road games.

"We're really solid at home. We've got to figure out a way to do that on the road," said senior forward Emily Hanley. "A lot of that comes down to focus, making sure we're ready to go from tip off."

Tied for the best home start in program history at 12-0, ISU is averaging 72.0 points in MVC games at Redbird Arena and 59.6 points in league games away from the comforts of home.

"This team has proven to themselves what a good team they can be. It's interesting to me that would not carry over to the road games," Coach Stephanie Glance said. "The bottom line is it's a level of focus and it's a mentality.

"It is what each player puts in their head prior to each game. Then collectively that results in whether we perform really well or perform really poorly."

Of ISU's top six players, only senior Shala Jackson, who needs two points to become the 26th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points, has a similar scoring average at home (10.0) and on the road (9.7) in Valley contests.

Hanley has scored 16.9 in home conference games to 12.4 on the road. Katie Broadway's split is 15.0 home to 7.9 road with Hannah Spanich checking in at 10.0-8.1, Kenyatta Shelton at 6.0-4.4 and Amanda Clifton at 7.0-4.3.

"Perhaps it's a lack of being in this position numerous times over the course of their careers," pondered Glance. "It's not a lack of maturity, but they haven't been the players in the past that have had to win road games themselves. They've had a lot of other people with them that have carried the load."

At 17-8 overall, ISU holds down third place in the MVC at 9-5. The Redbirds will try to complete a perfect home season against the bottom two teams in the conference standings.

"We would love to finish undefeated at home, but we still want to go on the road and get some wins, too," Hanley said. "It's all important, home games and away games."

Evansville (8-17, 3-11) is led by 6-foot-2 sophomore center Samantha Heck (10.5 points per game), 5-11 junior guard-forward Briyana Blair (10.2) and 6-0 sophomore forward Meagan Collins (9.0).

Evansville at Illinois State women

Time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: WJBC-AM (1230)

 

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