News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

January 12, 2014

When outside game falters, Sycamores grind it out inside

TERRE HAUTE — With Anna Munn watching from the bench because of a deep bone bruise in her left shoulder, Indiana State’s perimeter offense wasn’t at its best Sunday against Illinois State.

But point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and sophomore post player Marina Laramie teamed up to score ISU’s final 11 points to make sure the Sycamores improved to 3-0 in Missouri Valey Conference action with a 47-44 victory against the Redbirds.

Laramie’s hook shot with 57 seconds left gave Indiana State a 3-point cushion, and Illinois State missed a layup in the final seconds instead of attempting a potentially game-tying 3-point attempt.

Laramie, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-6, executed a 5-0 spurt with a layup and a 3-pointer to give ISU its largest lead of the game, 41-34, with 6 minutes, 56 seconds to go.

But it was that hook shot in the final minute that clinched the win.

“I knew we had to score. They got it to me inside. Coach says we have to go up strong when we get it in there. It ended up going in for me,” Laramie said.

Coach Teri Moren was proud of her team’s ability to grind out a close game against a determined opponent.

“I thought we had different kids step up,” she said. “Although we got off to a slow start there in the first half, I thought at critical times when we needed baskets we found a way to score. Then our defense was good to us toward the end.”

Laramie’s frontcourt mate, Racheal Mahan, added eight points on 4-of-7 shooting as the Redbirds’ defense did a good job clamping down on ISU’s posts all afternoon in Hulman Center.

Forward Chelsea Small also added eight points off the bench, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.

While Abdul-Qaadir came through when the game was on the line, she and the rest of the ISU backcourt had a tough day. As a group, Indiana State’s guards shot 8-of-33 from the field.

“We just couldn’t hit shots. That was just it. We were getting a lot of open looks,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “[The Redbirds] know we’re strong in the post so every time we threw it in, boom, collapse. So you know, that’s our guards’ jobs to hit those shots. We’ll do that.”

Without Munn, Moren was hoping Stephanie Wittman — making her first start — would continue her recent trend of steady contributions offensively.

Abdul-Qaadir assisted Wittman for two early baskets, but the Sycamores were plagued with turnovers in the first 20 minutes. A Kasey Johnson 3-pointer and a driving finish by Abdul-Qaadir in the final minute of the half were the only other baskets by ISU’s guards until after halftime.

The Sycamores had 14 turnovers at halftime, including an unforced one with seven seconds on the clock that set the Redbirds up with the final shot.

Illinois State point guard Chloe Nelson banked in a running 3-point attempt at the buzzer to put the Redbirds up 24-23 at halftime.

Natasha Zurek led the Sycamores’ strong effort defensively with three of her four steals in the first half.

The Sycamores’ high activity defensively was a positive that was discussed along with the turnover issues.

“Coach [Moren] came at me and Stephanie. I know I had a few travel calls. I have to keep the ball in our hands,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “Coach also mentioned at halftime that we got a ton of deflections. I hope we can take this defensive game today, bring it to the next game and build some offense.”

 The Sycamores visit Evansville on Thursday. Moren is cautiously optimistic about her star guard’s status for the game. Munn’s injury is to a shoulder she has had surgery on in the past.

“It’s just a bruise, but it’s a deep one,” Moren said. “Her pain is much better than it was two days ago. Now it’s just the range of motion we’re trying to fix.”

“Hoping that Anna will be back, but if she’s not we won’t push that. I’m very confident in these kids, and I know Anna’s very confident in the rest of her teammates. Whatever 12 or 13 we have to go into Evansville, we’ll try to become 4-0.”

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