Illinois State women’s basketball coach Kristen Gillespie made her way to Springfield, Mo., on Saturday still a bit amazed at what had transpired the night before.
“I have no words for it,” Gillespie said. “There were so many different things going on. It was mind blowing.”
The Redbirds committed 28 turnovers, shot 30 percent from the field and allowed 18 offensive rebounds to Southern Illinois yet somehow emerged with an unsightly 39-36 Missouri Valley Conference win at Carbondale.
Riding its first three-game winning streak in five seasons, ISU is 11-12 overall and 5-7 in the MVC entering Sunday’s 2 p.m. league game at JQH Arena against Missouri State.
“You walk off thinking what just happened, what did I just witness,” said Gillespie of the lowest scoring Redbird women’s game since a 43-24 win over Northern Illinois in 1974.
“We turned the ball over like it was our game plan, and they took (nearly) twice as many shots (60-33). But we were able to get enough stops to somehow come out on top.”
The 39-36 final tally was the lowest winning total in ISU program history and the least points scored by a Redbird opponent since an 83-35 triumph over Illinois-Chicago in 1985.
ISU did hold Southern to 23.3 percent shooting and outrebound the Salukis, 39-31, with the help of eight boards each from Viria Livingston and Hannah Green.
“She is an unsung hero,” Gillespie said of Livingston. “You are not going to look at the stat sheet and be wowed. She is a huge key to our success.”
Missouri State is 13-10 and tied for second in the MVC at 9-3. The Bears defeated ISU, 56-50, on Jan. 12 at Redbird Arena.
“They will start the game with five weapons on the floor. You can’t focus on one or two,” said Gillespie. “We will see multiple defenses. Our ability to handle the changes is going to be critical.”
Missouri State is second in the MVC at 68.7 points per game, while ISU is first in scoring defense (53.6). That figure puts the Redbirds fifth nationally and ISU’s opponent field goal percentage of 33.9 is sixth in the country.
The Bears’ top scorers are 5-foot-10 senior Liza Fruendt (16.3) and 6-2 sophomore Alexa Willard (10.9).
Around the Valley: ISU joined Indiana State in 1990 as the only teams in MVC history to win a road game while scoring less than 40 points.
The Sycamores’ 38-37 win over Southern Illinois ties Friday’s Redbird-Saluki game as the lowest scoring contest in conference history.
Drake drilled a league-record 20 3-pointers Friday in a 101-50 win at Evansville. The Bulldogs’ 69.1 shooting percentage was the second highest in school history.