NORMAL - An in-state rivalry boasting 34 games in its history will resume for the first time since 1992 at 7:05 tonight when the Illinois State women's basketball team hosts Eastern Illinois (2-2).
The Redbirds (3-2) are coming off an 81-53 triumph over Chicago State Sunday in which ISU's new starting lineup saw junior guard Tiffany Hudson notch career highs of 18 points and nine assists to go with five steals.
ISU had its best defensive showing of the season, holding the Cougars to 39 percent field goal shooting and forcing them into 21 turnovers.
"I was pleased with our defensive effort (against Chicago State) yesterday, but we still have a lot of work to do in that area," said ISU coach Robin Pingeton.
"A lot of that improvement will come from continuing to instill that defensive mentality in our players. We want to work harder than other teams on the defensive end, and be a great rebounding team. That's what we want our signature to be this season."
ISU owns a 26-8 lead over EIU in a series which began in 1973. The Redbirds have won seven of the last 10 meetings.
The Panthers' top three scorers all average double figures, including Central Catholic graduate Rachel Galligan, who ranks second on the team at 17.0 points per game. The 6-foot-2 sophomore shoots .551 from the field and averages 8.5 rebounds.
EIU averages 94.0 points and allows 83.5.
"Eastern Illinois plays very similar to us," Pingeton said. "They really like to push the ball in transition, and they are averaging nearly 94 points per game through their first four. But they also give up a lot of points.
"They like to gamble with a lot of full-court pressure defense. If you can convert and show some poise against that kind of defensive look, it is going to lead to a lot of easy baskets."
ISU's other game this week will be at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Wisconsin-Green Bay.