NORMAL — Kristen Gillespie has never seen anything like it in 18 years of coaching. And the Illinois State women’s basketball coach hopes she never sees it again.
The latest victim in the Redbirds’ epidemic of injuries is freshman guard Mary Crompton, who will be sidelined for six weeks after suffering a knee injury early in a 58-56 loss to Butler last Sunday.
ISU is down to eight healthy players for Thursday’s 7 p.m. nonconference game against Oakland at Redbird Arena.
Crompton, who was averaging 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds, has a bone bruise, a sprained medial collateral ligament and a torn patella ligament that will not require surgery.
“She was boxing out and Viria (Livingston) was boxing another kid out,” Gillespie said. “She got pushed into Mary and fell on Mary.”
ISU has been without freshman Anya Brooks all season because of chronic nose bleeds, junior forward Megan Talbot has a broken foot and sophomore guard Paige Saylor a broken hand.
Gillespie hopes to be back at full strength by early January.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. No one could foresee this happening,” said Gillespie. “I told the team no one is going to feel sorry for us. Really, more than ever, every single person has to do a little bit more, our staff included.”
ISU’s available players include two posts in senior Simone Goods and freshman Lexy Koudelka.
“It’s adversity,” Koudelka said. “We’ve got to keep playing hard and keep playing our game.”
"We have two posts and six guards," said Gillespie. "Some of the guards will have to play the post. We've just got to weather this storm."
While Gillespie prefers an up-tempo style, such an approach isn’t advisable with eight players in uniform.
“We are going to have to grind out games,” she said. “We have a great opportunity to step up and find a way to win. I think we have enough talent. In our losses, turnovers and missed free throws are haunting us.”
Koudelka, a 6-foot-1 product of Nevada, Iowa, is averaging 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in her introduction to college basketball.
“Jumping in is really good for me,” said Koudelka. “I have to play hard. I have to play strong.”
“Every single day, her development and confidence is coming,” Gillespie said. “She’s shown glimpses. We have to get her the ball. With the type of kid she is and work ethic she has, our foundation is in good hands with her.”
The 1-4 Redbirds oppose 2-4 Oakland, which opened its season with a 64-43 win over ISU in 2017.
The Golden Grizzlies’ top scorers are 5-8 senior Taylor Jones (17.5) and 5-9 senior LaKyesha Stennis (10.0). Jones is grabbing a team-best 7.7 rebounds per outing.
Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt
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