TERRE HAUTE —
If Tennessee-Martin is not the best team Indiana State schedule so far, the Skyhawks will be by far the most battle-tested.
Sycamore fans saw the talented UT-Martin backcourt up close when Indiana State won 66-55 in Hulman Center last season. Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler, both averaging more than 20 points a game, are coming off a game in which they combined for 49 points against No. 14 Purdue.
While the Boilermakers prevailed, partially thanks to a 15-0 post-halftime run that erased a four-point deficit, the Skyhawks showed how difficult it will be to beat them on their home floor today. For more evidence, check their scores in losses against No. 3 Baylor (82-67), No. 1 Stanford (92-68) and No. 8 Louisville (79-61).
Indiana State will be looking for a 7-2 record overall, while hoping to be 2-2 on the road.
Creating some frustration for Butler and Newsome will be the key in making that happen obviously, and it’s a team effort, coach Teri Moren said.
“Our whole team, from the minute we step off the bus, we’re going to have to guard [No.] 11 [Butler] and [No.] 12 [Newsome]. These two kids are terrific. They’ll be two of the best guards we face all year, and I have a lot of respect for players in the [Missouri] Valley, but these two kids are phenomenal,” Moren said. “They score in a variety of ways and just unselfish enough to get everybody else involved on their team.”
Tennesse-Martin’s fan base is on board as well, drawing 3,400 fans for the game against Purdue.
“They get a ton of fans like we do at Hulman Center,” ISU senior Taylor Whitley said. “We’re comfortable playing in that atmosphere. We’ve just got to have a mindset that it’s like playing at home.”
Whitley said it will be the best team the Sycamores have played this season. ISU’s intensity in preparation this week was at a high level, she added.
“I would say so. They are playing some big-time teams and competing with them. They’re competing with Mizzou. They’re a really good basketball team. We’re just really excited to get to play them,” Whitley said. “It’s going to be a dogfight and a battle throughout the whole game. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
For Moren and her coaching staff, it’s an excellent opportunity for the Sycamores to prepare for Missouri Valley play, which begins in about two weeks.
“I think it will really give us a good gauge — not that the other games we’ve played havent — but these are two top guards that will give us an idea of where we’re at as we get ready for Valley play,” Moren said.