News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

January 12, 2014

Munn's backcourt mates stepping up at right time

Sycamores women looking for 3-0 start in MVC

TERRE HAUTE — Getting more perimeter scoring to take pressure off senior Anna Munn was a requirement going into this season for Indiana State to achieve its goals.

The Sycamores got plenty on the opening weekend of Missouri Valley Conference action.

Point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir averaged 23 points in ISU’s two wins, shooting 48 percent from the field and knocking down 21-of-24 free throw attempts.

Abdul-Qaadir credited her success to making it a point to get to the basket. Not only did she create scoring opportunities for herself, but she had 10 assists in the two victories.

“Coach Wells has kind of been on me about trying to get get fouls and making open-court moves to get to the basket. I’m making an effort to change and do that so the first two games I did a lot better, better than the preseason,” Abdul-Qaadir said following Friday evening’s practice in Hulman Center.

“It’s something we’ve asked her to do from day 1, it’s just taken her a little while to get there as far as getting to the basket instead of settling for that one-two dribble pull-up [jump shot],” said ISU coach Teri Moren, who is also encouraged by the offensive play of recently eligible transfers Stephanie Wittman and Chelsea Small.

Both players scored in double figures in the Drake win, and Wittman will make her first start today against Illinois State. The former Kansas State player averaged 9 points on 50 percent field-goal shooting in the first two MVC games. The 5-foot-10 guard has shown her playmaking skills with the ball in her hands but she also has the strength to provide another post-up threat for the Sycamores.

Abdul-Qaadir, last week’s MVC Player of the Week, is encouraged by the team’s potential offensive prowess looking forward. The Sycamores can improve, however, in the respect of putting teams away.

“As a team, our first half is great. We’re so aggressive. We’ve got Stephanie Wittman as another aggressor. We’ve got Munn to knock down shots. We need to get stops, do better as a team,” Abdul-Qaadir said.

Small provided a big boost with 14 points off the bench to aid the Sycamores’ largest point total in three years.

“I think once we start getting offensive boards and working together on the inside-out game, we can put up more high scoring games,” Small said.

While that may be, Moren needs to see improvement in several areas to feel better about the team’s championship aspirations:  defense, free-throw shooting and ball security.

While ISU’s 90-point outburst against Drake was impressive, the Sycamores allowed the Bulldogs to reach 81. Drake made 29 of 57 from the field for 50.9 percent field-goal shooting. The Sycamores are working on doing a better job of contesting all shots.

“We’re just not being near as disciplined on our closeout and contesting shots,” Moren said. “We’re kind of overpursuing, getting ourselves out of position, which allows people to get past us … It’s more of a discipline thing than it is anything.”

“We’ve tried to build this program on sound defense. And in the past have done a pretty decent job. We’ve had some slippage here, where we’ve allowed our opponents to score too many points. We’re trying to get that fixed.”

The Sycamores’ opponent today, Illinois State, hasn’t shown to be an outstanding offensive team this season, shooting just 35.5 percent overall and averaging a league-worst 57.3 points.

But the Redbirds were able to hold off Drake for an 80-71 victory. Illinois State’s Alexis Foley lit up the Bulldogs for 17 first-half points and Illinois State held off a rally for that win.

Sophomore Octavia Crump has averaged 15 points through two MVC games after scoring just 7.4 through the first 10 contests.

“It’s a new coach, new staff, new pieces , they lost a few of their post players [transferring out] that they would have had,” Moren said. “They’ve lost some talented players. They run an open motion that is difficult to guard if you don’t play sound defense. It’ll be a challenge for us. I’m not over the fact that we gave up 81 points the other day. I certainly hope we show up Sunday afternoon with our defensive helmets or hats on for sure.”

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College
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