News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

January 15, 2014

ISU women seek 5-0 start in MVC

Two road victories would give Sycamores best start since 2005-06 season

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State’s players have the approach of a team excited about the challenge of picking up two road wins to take a 5-0 start to the Missouri Valley Conference schedule for the first time since the 2005-06 regular-season champions.

Tonight’s matchup against an up-and-coming Evansville squad isn’t going to disappoint in providing that challenge for the Sycamores.

“They’re a really good team, really scrappy,” ISU guard Stephanie Wittman said of the Purple Aces. “This road trip will be a really good test. If we can get two wins, maybe be 5-0. We want to be undefeated [at 6-0] playing Wichita [State], have a little confidence going into that game.”

The Purple Aces (7-8, 2-2 Missouri Valley Conference) are averaging 73 points behind the league’s top scorer. Former Riverton Parke standout Sara Dickey is averaging 17.9 points through 15 games for the Purple Aces.

The five-foot-10 freshman is playing one wing position alongside 5-6 junior point guard Kat Taylor and 5-6 freshman Dakota Weatherford in the backcourt.

Dickey is shooting just 33.9 percent on the season from the field, but she is among the best in the MVC at getting to the foul line, where she’s knocked down 77.1 percent.

“Their freshman has played really well for them. Oties has given her the green light. She’s taking a lot of shots and getting a lot of attempts,” ISU coach Teri Moren said. “Sara Dickey has been tremendous from the beginning, she’s been very impressive.”

Moren is at least equally impressed by the Aces’ junior point guard, who is shooting 41 percent overall and posting 3.9 assists per game.

 Evansville also brings veteran post Mallory Ladd, who averages a double-double in points and rebounds, and All-MVC caliber performer Khristian Hart has returned recently from a torn ACL suffered last season.

Defending without fouling too much against the third most accurate free-throw shooting team in the league could be crucial tonight. Stopping penetration has been an issue for the Sycamores at times this season.

“[Wisconsin men’s coach] Bo Ryan made an interesting comment [after the Badgers’ loss to Indiana on Tuesday]. ‘I don’t think any of us have figured out how to guard without getting into foul trouble yet.’ We’re no different.  One of the things about Dickey is she’s very aggressive offensively and gotten to the free-throw line the most of anybody on their team.

“We need to make sure we don’t make this into a free-throw shooting contest. [Conversely], that’s one of the things we need our kids to do a better job of is attacking the basket.”

Anna Munn expects to be back on the court for the Sycamores after missing Sunday’s game against Illinois State. ISU’s top scorer suffered a deep bone bruise in in her left shoulder in practice last week. She practiced Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury.

“Just getting back into swing of things. Nothing I can’t play through,” Munn said. “Evansville’s a really good team, anytime you can steal one on the road, it’s a big deal. They get up at least 26 3-pointers a game, they’ really accurate shooters too. They have some posts that demand your attention, too.”

Munn likes the way the team is molding together at the right time. With Wittman and Abdul-Qaadir in the starting lineup, ISU has multiple scoring threats in the backcourt to go with offensive threats Marina Laramie and Racheal Mahan in the post.

Natasha Zurek is one of the top backup point guards in the league, ranking among the league leaders in assists and steals. Chelsea Small, Lashonda Littleton, Jasmine Grier and Kasey Johnson are all proving capable of added bench production as well.

“Everybody is finally getting into the role that they’re going to play,” Munn said. “But coach has always been saying, she’s going to find the 5, 6 or 7 that are going to play hardest. All around, everybody’s gettin the legs to do that and help us find ways to get wins.”

Wittman is happy to have the Sycamores’ leading scorer back on the floor as it should help everyone’s ability to produce.

“With Munn back, it definitely gives us more spacing,” Wittman said. “Last game, they were really collapsing on the post. They have to guard Munn, and me and [Abdul-Qaadir] just have to make them guard us.”

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