PEORIA — The Bradley University women's basketball team may have defeated Illinois State on Dec. 31 at Redbird Arena, but the Braves did not defeat Simone Goods.
And with the ISU junior receiving considerably more help Saturday at Renaissance Coliseum, Bradley could not handle Goods or the Redbirds.
Goods spearheaded a superb ISU second half and finished with 25 points as the Redbirds claimed the No. 6 seed in next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament with a 53-41 victory.
“It’s a really good matchup,” said Goods, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds in an earlier 20-point loss to Bradley. “And we took advantage of everything they gave us, including myself.”
ISU (14-15 overall, 8-10 in the MVC) trailed 24-18 at the half but blitzed Bradley (12-17, 6-12) with the first 15 points of the third quarter as the Redbirds avoided the Thursday play-in round at the MVC Tournament for the first time in five years.
“As the conference season started, we knew we didn’t want to be a Thursday team. We wanted to get that bye,” ISU coach Kristen Gillespie said. “We talked about it a lot. It’s really fitting that this game, whoever won is a Friday team.”
The Redbirds face No. 3 seed Northern Iowa at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the tournament at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Bradley was relegated to the No. 7 seed and takes on No. 10 Evansville at 7 p.m. Thursday.
It appeared to be time to dust off the Evansville scouting report for the ISU coaches at halftime. The Redbirds managed just seven second-quarter points and trailed 24-18 at the break.
“I thought I was pretty well behaved at halftime. I didn’t get after it too bad,” said Gillespie. “We had a lot at stake in this game. We were a little uptight and not in sync. We looked out of sorts offensively.”
That malady didn’t persist.
Baskets from Katrina Beck, Megan Talbot and Viria Livingston lifted ISU into a tie as Bradley committed more turnovers (four) in the third quarter's opening four minutes than it had in the entire first half (three).
Beck drove for a bucket, was fouled and completed the three-point play to push the Redbirds in front. Goods then scored six straight points and suddenly ISU held a 33-24 advantage.
“They got a couple quick baskets and it really rattled us,” Braves coach Andrea Gorski said. “Offensively, there was a lid on the basket. They are a good defensive team, but you’ve got to make sure you’re making your open shots. It snowballed and we couldn’t get anyone to calm us down on the floor.”
Bradley was back within four until Talbot drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key with two seconds left in the third quarter.
Beck connected on the first 3-pointer of the game not scored by Talbot at the 8:53 mark of the final quarter, and Goods added her final eight points as the Redbirds rolled out to a 51-36 cushion.
“It’s just mindset. We knew we had to want it more than they did,” Beck said of ISU’s second-half turnaround. “If we don’t play harder, get the 50-50 balls and box out, it was going to be up for grabs. We didn’t want that to happen.”
Goods connected on 10 of 18 shots from the field, was 5 of 6 at the free-throw line, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
“She’s good. We thought we had three bigs we could throw at her and some doubles,” said Gorski. “If she did miss, she got her own rebound. Obviously, we can’t guard her in a man set. She was unbelievable today.”
Beck added 10 points as ISU shot 31.8 percent in the first half and 55.6 percent in the second.
Chelsea Brackmann was the lone Brave in double figures with 10 points. Bradley shot 28 percent after halftime and 34 percent overall while coaxing in just 1 of 14 from 3-point range.