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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -" The Illinois State women's basketball team, after losing 85-73 to Wichita State Friday night, was awakened at 6:30 a.m. Saturday by fire alarms in its Wichita, Kan., hotel. It turned out there was an electrical malfunction in an elevator mechanism.

It was the first of many adventures for ISU as it made its way to Springfield for today's 2:05 p.m. game against Missouri State.

After a charter flight to Springfield, the 23-person travel party had to squeeze into a 15-passenger mini-bus for transport to the hotel, waiting 20 minutes for the bus to arrive. A 10-minute drive to the hotel wound up taking 25 minutes because the bus stalled 11 times and seldom traveled faster than 25 mph.

At the hotel, the nine-story building was down to one working elevator, with the Redbirds' rooms spread among six floors.

While she conceded the travel adventures might make interesting copy, ISU coach Robin Pingeton expected the Redbirds to be ready for a solid practice late Saturday afternoon and an improved performance on Sunday.

"You control what you can control," said Pingeton. "Certainly, a lot of those events were out of our control, but it's a life lesson: adversity will strike - it's how quickly and positively you can make adjustments.

"We are still in the mix of things (for a top six finish in the Valley). It's another opportunity for us. We are disappointed with the Wichita State loss, but need to get focused on this rejuvenated Missouri State team."

The Redbirds (9-13 overall, 4-9 in the Missouri Valley) won't get any sympathy from the Bears. Missouri State (12-11, 6-8) threw up a big stop sign on Indiana State's 18-game winning streak by pounding the league-leading Sycamores 76-46 Friday.

Missouri State, which has won more than 90 percent of its league home games since 1989, is looking to put back-to-back wins together for the first time since early January. The Redbirds used a stifling defense to beat the Bears 64-55 Jan. 20 in Normal.

Kari Koch and Sarah Klaassen, two of the three Bears' seniors who are playing their last regular-season game in Hammons Student Center, had 19 points each in the win over Indiana State. Koch leads the Valley in scoring with 20.7 points per game.

"It's the last home game for that great senior class at Missouri State," said Pingeton. "We know that, after the big win over Indiana State, the Missouri State fans will be out in full force. That will be a new experience for our young kids."

All 10 Valley teams will be back at Hammons Student Center in mid-March for the State Farm Missouri Valley Tournament.


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