TERRE HAUTE —
Racheal Mahan has been paramount in Indiana State’s success during this women’s basketball season.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore, named honorable-mention All-Missouri Valley Conference for her work, led the MVC and set the ISU single-season record for offensive rebounds with 98 (3.5 per game).
Mahan has helped ISU become a more aggressive team all-around, her play playing a big role in ISU picking up its most victories in six years. Since her arrival three years ago, ISU coach Teri Moren has made it a goal for her team to get 20 offensive rebounds.
“When you go up, it’s a mental thing. You just have to think how am I going to get around them, and it’s understanding where my teammates’ shots are going to go. And it’s hustle,” Mahan said.
She’s also provided a mountain of strength at the defensive end as the Sycamores’ defense ranked second in the league in points allowed, fourth in field-goal percentage defense and was the most efficient defensive rebounding team.
Mahan is among the league’s leaders in field-goal percentage as well. But when she’s struggled, the Sycamores have struggled. The rugged left-hander averaged 15.8 points during ISU’s 10 league victories, while posting 10.5 ppg during the eight losses.
Against Northern Iowa, ISU’s opponent Friday in the MVC Tournament at The Family Arena, Mahan had 10 turnovers in the Sycamores’ two losses.
Moren needs more poise and attentiveness from Mahan against the different looks opposing defenses are giving to confuse ISU’s young post players.
“She has to be able to handle herself, so does Marina,” Moren said. “With Marina and Racheal, they’ve got to do a better job of recognizing [the double team is] coming. A lot of it is, they’re hurrying a little bit. Check and see who’s open and make the right pass.”
Laramie, a 6-2 freshman, was named to the MVC’s All-Freshman Team. Laramie wrestled with getting into the flow of the offense against UNI as well, getting just two shots at Cedar Falls, Iowa, just two games after posting a career-high 27 against Missouri State.
Laramie’s presence can help free Mahan up from the attention of opposing defenses. But the duo has to be on the same page.
“It helps with rebounding. I can just get down the lane now with the attention she draws,” Mahan said. “It helps because she can score, she posts her butt off.”
It also comes with challenges as Mahan has to match up with smaller, quicker players as some teams in the MVC start four, or even five, true guards.
“It’s sometimes difficult, because you don’t know who’s playing what spot sometimes,” Mahan said. “It’s hard sometimes too because I get stuck guarding guards. But that’s where I pick it up and do it for the team.”
Moren will need a string of consistent play this weekend from the posts. She saw Mahan bounce back to post 13 points and 12 rebounds at Bradley as the Sycamores avoided falling to sixth place with that big win.
“It was nice to see her bounce back. We needed she, we needed Marina to score, have some production, where they felt like ‘this feels good, this is what I’m used to doing, this is what I’ve got to do to help my team win,’” Moren said. “[Mahan] played harder. The consistency, I know in the last several games we lost, she struggled. We have great confidence in our kids, but on the other side of that, we’re demanding. We make sure they understand they know when their effort’s not great.”
MVC women’s basketball tournament
At St. Charles, Mo.
The Famliy Arena
All times EDT
No. 9 Drake vs. No. 8 Missouri State, 5:07 p.m.
No. 10 Southern Illinois vs. No. 7 Evansville, 8:07 p.m.
Drake-Missouri State winner vs No. 1 Wichita State, 1:07 p.m.
No. 5 Indiana State vs. No. 4 UNI, 3:37 p.m.
SIU-Evansville winner vs. No. 2 Creighton, 7:07 p.m.
No. 6 Bradley vs. No. 3 Illinois State, 9:37 p.m.
Semifinal game: 2:37 p.m.
Semifinal game: 5:07 p.m.
Championship game: 2:07 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)