The Illinois State women’s basketball team will attempt to pack the momentum gained at Redbird Arena for a weekend road trip.
The Redbirds gun for their first three-game winning streak of the season Friday in a 6 p.m. game against Southern Illinois in Carbondale before facing Missouri State on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Springfield. Mo.
“We won two big home games to start the second half (of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule,” ISU coach Kristen Gillespie said. “It gives us a renewed sense of confidence and belief in what we’re trying to do.”
Victories over Loyola and Valparaiso improved the Redbirds to 10-12 overall and 4-7 in the MVC. ISU hasn’t more than 10 games in a season since 2012-13.
ISU is seventh in the Valley standings, one game behind Bradley at 5-6. The Redbirds and Braves have the same opponents remaining before meeting in the regular season finale March 3 in Peoria.
“We’ve talked about that. That’s something our kids pay attention to,” said Gillespie. “Any extra incentive is healthy, it’s good. But we have to take care of our own business.”
Southern (12-10 overall) is tied for third in the MVC at 7-4. The Salukis lost to ISU on Jan. 14 at Redbird Arena, 49-46.
“We did a really nice job defensively,” Gillespie said. “But we turned the ball over way too many times.”
Nicole Martin, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, is the reigning MVC Player of the Week after scoring 46 points in two games.
Martin leads the Salukis at 12.3 points per game with 6-1 senior Kylie Giebelhausen at 11.7, 6-1 freshman Abby Brockmeyer at 10.4 and 5-11 freshman Makenzie Silvey at 10.3. Brockmeyer is the top rebounder at 7.2.
“They are really well balanced. Their starting five can all score,” said Gillespie. “Our posts have a big task at hand with Brockmeyer and Martin. It will take an unbelievable team defensive effort.”
Hannah Green, a 6-0 senior, is ISU’s leading scorer at 12.7 with 6-2 junior Simone Goods at 12.1. Green, Goods and 6-2 sophomore Megan Talbot all average at least six rebounds per outing.
ISU sophomore Morgan VanHyfte continues her rehabilitation from a knee injury, but Gillespie admits that this late in the season sitting out the entire year as a redshirt is a strong possibility.
“She was cleared to practice, but she’s just so far behind with conditioning,” said the Redbird coach. “We’ll talk this weekend and develop a game plan.”