NORMAL, Ill. - Sophomore forward Octavia Crump's fourth double-double effort of the season capped off the strong Illinois State women's basketball team's (9-17, 8-8 Missouri Valley Conference) second half shooting effort, which led to the 69-61 victory over Loyola (9-19, 5-11 MVC) Sunday afternoon at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds shot 40 percent from the field, sinking 18-of-45 attempts, 44 percent behind the arc (4-9) and 69 percent from the free throw line (29-42). A total of 37 rebounds were pulled down by the team, including 10 boards claimed by Crump, who would finish with 18 points. Chloe Nelson followed Crump's contributions with 15 points and one steal, along with Katy Winge, finishing with 11 points, shooting 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-6 behind the arc.
After opening the game going 0-for-4 from the field, Nelson hit a layup off a Loyola turnover to tie the game 2-2 with 17:22 to play in the first half. Immediately following Nelson's bucket, Alison Seberger scored her first points of the game on a put-back layup. The Ramblers responded with back-to-back three pointers and a jumper, but their efforts weren't enough to stifle the Redbird offense. Alexis Foley sank two shots from the free throw line, followed by a three pointer of her own off an offensive rebound by Crump, making it 13-10 Illinois State with 11:34 remaining in the half.
As the half progressed, the Ramblers took a 7-0 run, putting Loyola ahead of ISU, 17-13, as 8:30 remained on the clock. After head coach Barb Smith tried to refocus the Redbirds during a time out, ISU continued to struggle on the floor, not making a basket in its next eight possessions, including four turnovers. Crump eventually ended the scoring drought with a layup off an assist from Winge, shadowed by a layup by Zenobia Bess, cutting their deficit to four, 21-17, with 2:46 to go in the opening half. Closing out the half, Loyola went on to outscore ISU 7-4, giving the Ramblers a five-point advantage at halftime, 26-21.
The break paid off for Illinois State, as the Redbirds opened the second half 4-for-4 from the field, including a trey from Lindsay Smith and three jumpers by Winge, adding nine points to the scoreboard for the Redbirds, cutting Loyola's lead to three,33-30, with 17:09 to play. The surge continued leading to a 5-1 run by ISU, putting the Redbirds on top, 35-34, with 14:08 remaining in regulation. As play continued, both teams traded baskets, allowing ISU to maintain its lead.
Nelson scored ISU's next five points off of two free throws and a trey, amounting to a 44-42 advantage. ISU then visited the charity stripe six-consecutive times, tallying five points, 49-47, before sinking its next field goal off a one-handed layup by Smith. Crump found her rhythm and contributed the next seven Illinois State points, all from the free throw line except for a jumper sank by Foley, 60-56, with 3:36 to go. The Ramblers would put four additional points on the board, but the Redbirds' over 65 percent shooting efforts across all fields in the second half would be too much for the Ramblers to overcome, ending with an Illinois State 69-61 victory on the regular-season home finale.
The Redbirds return to the road to close out their final two games of the regular season, traveling to Northern Iowa Thursday. Tip is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.