News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

January 3, 2014

ISU women to open MVC season against UNI tonight

TERRE HAUTE — At 5-6 overall, Indiana State women’s basketball players and coaches expected to have a better record at this point in the season.

But there’s no sense in looking back, in their minds. All that matters now is improving and being the best team when the Missouri Valley Conference teams gather in St. Charles, Mo., in early March.

The ISU coaches’ and players’ belief they can win a league title hasn’t wavered. Beating teams like Northwestern (9-3), a program hoping to crack the top half of the Big Ten standings, provides evidence the Sycamores are capable of winning a championship. ISU point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir hit a game-winning 3-pointer after ISU led a portion of the second half against the Wildcats last weekend at the Tulane tournament.

They’ll begin that MVC title pursuit tonight against Northern Iowa in Hulman Center, with another home game coming up Sunday against Drake.

ISU senior Anna Munn said the Sycamores are emphasizing the opportunity to get off to a good start at home in conference play.

“Anytime you get a big win over a big school like Northwestern, it feels good,” Munn said. “But not finishing out the tournament with a win against Tulane was a little bit of a heartbreaker. Three home games now, we’ll just look to seal the deal here at home before we go out on the road.

“Just coming off the big win, we’re looking forward to making our way in the conference. We just have to stay positive, do what we do best and play hard.”

ISU coach Teri Moren was concerned about the lack of growth in the Sycamores prior to the Butler win, but she likes what she’s seen since beating the Bulldogs and knocking off Northwestern.

“We just kept chipping away and finding ways to score [against Northwestern],” Moren said. “We found a way to win. It was special.

“Before the Butler game, I didn’t feel like we were growing. We’ve made some growth since then.”

The Sycamores are also battle-tested going into the league schedule. Two of their losses — to 10-2 LSU and 12-0 Indiana — came against teams ranked in the top 30 of the RPI rankings. ISU’s strength-of-schedule ranks 59th in the NCAA.

“I’m happy we’ve played the nonconference schedule we’ve played,” Moren said. “It’d be easy for us to play schools with RPIs in the 250s and get wins. Part of the reason we did that is we think we have some potential with this group.”

The Sycamores play a Northern Iowa squad tonight that is young this season after a strong season last year led by MVC Player of the Year Jacqui Kalin. The Panthers are averaging 27 3-point attempts per game, and they connected for 10 makes for the third time this season in a 66-64 win at Northern Illinois.

“It’s nice to be at home,” Moren said. “This is a different team without Jacqui Kalin. We’ll have to really guard the 3-point line really well. They’re well-coached and always ready to play.”

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