NORMAL — The Illinois State women’s basketball team hit just 4 of 18 shots and scored only 10 points in the fourth quarter of a 68-61 season-opening loss to Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Sunday.
Yet Redbird coach Kristen Gillespie has her focus on defense entering Wednesday’s 7 p.m. home opener against North Dakota at Redbird Arena.
“There are going to be games like the fourth quarter. I thought we had pretty good looks, but they just weren’t going,” Gillespie said. “In games like that, we have to be able to defend and rebound. We’re not quite where we need to be.”
Senior Simone Goods paced the Redbirds with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was a disappointing loss because we talked about everything we lost for,” said Goods. “We’re pulling together our offense and still working out some kinks. But for the most part, everybody is gelling well together and figuring out their roles.”
Redbird freshman Kayel Newland scored eight points off the bench in the opener after sitting out an earlier exhibition win over Quincy with concussion like symptoms.
“Kayel did really well. I thought she played with great confidence,” Gillespie said. “That’s what we expect her to do. She can stretch the floor at the post position.”
North Dakota is 1-1 after an 85-49 loss to nationally ranked Syracuse and a 62-56 win over Valparaiso.
The Hawks, who play their first seven games on the road, have an abundance of height and are led by 6-foot-2 senior Lexi Klabo, who averaged 19.0 points and 9.3 rebounds last season.
North Dakota also features 6-3 senior Faith Dooley, a 6-5 sophomore in Melissa Leet and three additional 6-2 players.
“There will definitely be a height discrepancy. They have a great post player in Klabo,” said Gillespie. “They like to run in transition, too. It should be an exciting game. It will come down to which team can win the rebounding battle and be committed to getting stops at the defensive end.”
Food pantry collection: Redbird fans are encouraged to bring canned food items to the game in support of the School Street Food Pantry for ISU students.
Also, fans will receive a free rally towel while supplies last.