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NORMAL — This third quarter, Illinois State women's basketball coach Kristen Gillespie could live with.

In a strikingly similar scenario to a Jan. 13 game in Evansville, Ind., ISU pounced instead of retreated with a comfortable halftime lead Friday as the Redbirds thrashed Evansville, 82-59, in Missouri Valley Conference action at Redbird Arena.

The Redbirds held a 20-point halftime margin in the first Evansville game and managed just nine points in the third quarter to give the Purple Aces hope. This time, a season-high 27 third-quarter points extended a 15-point halftime advantage to 31 to put Evansville away.

"I'm really proud of our effort. I knew coming in on paper we were the better team. But I thought we were the better team when we went to Evansville," Gillespie said. "It's no secret we haven't been the best third quarter team. That's something we've been challenging the team on, and they really responded."

ISU hiked its record to 12-9 overall and evened its MVC mark at 5-5 ahead of Sunday's 2 p.m. Play4Kay game against Indiana State at Redbird Arena.

The Redbirds led just 20-18 before seizing control in the second quarter. ISU closed the half on a 14-3 run with Kayel Newland scoring six and Simone Goods and Lexi Wallen four each.

Evansville (2-19, 0-10) had no answer for Goods in the third quarter. After Viria Livington hit an inside bucket, Goods delivered three straight baskets for a 48-25 bulge.

"We struggle coming out (after halftime) sometimes. We talk about throwing the first punch in the third quarter," said Goods. "Any time I get the ball on the block, I know what the coaches want me to do. I'm on the block to get a bucket."

Goods sat out the fourth quarter but still totaled 22 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.

"I think she's the premier post player in our league," Gillespie said. "I know there are really good ones. What she does for us and our team the way people guard us is phenomenal."

TeTe Maggett, Wallen and Paige Saylor added third quarter 3-pointers as the Redbirds toted a 67-36 cushion into the final 10 minutes.

"That's the second game in a row I thought our offense was pretty good, a lot more movement, much better pace," said Gillespie. "When we play like that, we're hard to guard, and it opens things up across the board. I thought we played really unselfishly."

Wallen's 13 points were her most since Jan. 6, Saylor's eight points were a season high and Livingston matched a season best with eight. Newland chipped in eight points and a career-high eight rebounds.

"It's a confidence thing. I try to work on it every day," Saylor said. "Coach is always telling me you've got to look to shoot. I have to be better about that, and I think tonight I was because they remind me so often."

ISU held a whopping 40-18 rebounding edge through three quarters that finished at 45-33.

"They did a good job crashing and taking advantage of our no box outs," said Aces coach Matt Ruffing. "You've got to put a body on someone and push them back. We just aren't willing to do that right now."

Maggett, ISU's second leading scorer behind Goods on the season, had just five points but contributed six rebounds and a career-high eight assists.

"That's her maturity, her growth," Gillespie said. "She just wants us to win."

Marley Miller paced Evansville with 17 points, 15 of which came on 5 of 9 3-point shooting. The rest of the Aces were 4 of 24 from beyond the arc.

Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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