WMBD/WYZZ-TV STAFF - ST. CHARLES, Mo. - In its first overtime game of the season, the Illinois State women's basketball team overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half to grab a 64-61 win Saturday at Family Arena in the semifinal round of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Three Redbirds scored in double-figures in the victory.
Candace Sykes recorded her second-straight double-double, as she led the Redbirds with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Jamie Russell added 13 points, while Janae Smith scored 11 and just missed a double-double, bringing down eight boards. Alexis Jenkins dished out four assists, while Russell took away four steals. ISU shot 41 percent from the field, as Creighton made 40 percent of its shots from the floor. ISU had the advantage on the boards, pulling down seven more than CU. Illinois State ended the game with 40 rebounds, including 13 on the offensive end.
Illinois State jumped ahead to a quick 5-0 lead early in the game, but went scoreless for over three minutes, while Creighton got within one, 5-4, with a run of its own. The Redbirds regrouped and went on a 6-0 run to take a 15-8 advantage with 6:25 to play, while Creighton went scoreless for nearly six minutes.
The strong ISU defense created offense, as the Redbirds ended the half with a 14-5 run that lasted the final 5:31 of the opening half. Sykes had five points in the run, while Russell had four. Smith and Chloe Nelson also netted baskets in the run, as the Redbirds went into the locker room with an 11-point lead, 29-18.
At the half, Sykes led all scorers with eight points, as she shot 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc. Smith added six points, while seven Redbirds scored in the first half. Illinois State shot 43 percent from the field, while Creighton connected on 35 percent of its shot attempts. ISU had the advantage on the boards by three, pulling down 13 in the opening half. ISU had seven steals in the first half, while CU had 11 turnovers.
To open the second half, Creighton went on a 10-2 run to get within three, 31-28, as Smith scored four-straight points for ISU to increase the Redbirds' lead back to five, 35-30, with 16:07 to play. Creighton went on an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game with 14:27 to play. The Bluejays scored another four points, increasing their run to 12-0, until Russell hit a jumper in the lane. Creighton was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc to start the second half.
After cutting Creighton's lead to four with a three by Sykes, the Bluejays hit their seventh three of the half and connected on another jumper to get their lead to nine, 55-46. Then, Alexis Foley connected on a three and Sykes got a layup to get ISU within four, 55-51, with 4:12 to play. ISU went on a 9-0 run that lasted over five minutes, to tie the game with just over two minutes to play, while CU missed eight-straight field goal attempts to end regulation in a tie, 55-55.
In its first overtime of the season, Sykes hit a big three and was fouled on the shot, but wasn't able to convert the and-one play, giving ISU a three-point lead with 2:41 to play. After ISU took a 63-58 lead with eight seconds left, but a Creighton three cut Illinois State's lead to two, 63-61, but a free throw by Smith with one second left secured the win, advancing the Redbirds to the championship game.