TERRE HAUTE —
It was a typical day for Indiana State senior Taylor Whitley.
The senior point guard made a few Pete-Rose style headfirst dives for the ball, came up with six steals and finished with 10 points during the Sycamores’ 59-48 victory.
The postgame was also characteristic of Whitley as she deflected praise to her teammates for reaching 1,000 points and surpassing Kelsey Luna for seventh place on the Sycamores’ all-time steals list. Whitley is the 26th ISU player to score 1,000.
“I feel truly honored to be a part of it. I wouldn’t be in [the 1,000-point club] if it weren’t for all of my teammates the last four years,” said Whitley, who praised ISU’s team effort at the defensive end for getting 16 steals as a team and holding the Bulldogs to 31.8 percent shooting. “Our focus was defense like it always is. We did a good job getting out in the passing lanes.”
ISU coach Teri Moren enjoys coaching Whitley because her hard-nosed effort is first and foremost to help the team succeed.
“This is a kid that will go down in history for me as one of the most competitive kids I will ever coach,” Moren said.
Whitley may be the quintessential point guard in many ways, but Sunday’s victory wasn’t exactly an instant classic.
Sophomore Racheal Mahan led the Sycamores with 15 points but also led the team with six turnovers. Mahan’s partner in controlling the paint, freshman Marina Laramie, hit double figures for the fourth time since joining the starting lineup five games ago. But Laramie — who scored 11 to go with seven rebounds — also fouled out, picked up a technical foul on an odd and lengthy video review and had five turnovers.
The 40-minute game in Hulman Center lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes as 47 fouls and 60 turnovers were committed.
Putting it nicely, the second half was sloppy as a frustrated Drake squad wouldn’t let Indiana State stretch its lead further than 20.
Whitley put ISU — which held the Bulldogs without a field goal the last 5:43 of the first half — ahead 20 in the first minute of the second half, hitting a deep two-pointer with two seconds on the shot clock to give her 1,001 career points.
The Sycamores led 50-30 with 11:55 to go, but the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run over the next 3:36. Freshman Kasey Johnson hit a 10-foot jumper and Laramie scored two of her 11 points to help keep the Bulldogs at bay.
Still, empty stretches like that have been a point of emphasis for Moren in the last couple weeks as the Sycamores (14-8, 6-5 MVC) attempt to rise toward the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sycamores are tied for fifth place but are only two games out of second place with eight games to go.
“Our challenge to our kids is to not have three empty possessions in a row, and in the second half we didn’t accomplish that,” Moren said. “We’ve got to either get to the free-throw line or get a shot. We’re trying to get our kids to focus on that during the course of a game, to have a feel for that, that we’ve been empty, so now we have to get something good.”
On Thursday at Evansville, Moren’s team will have a chance to build a winning streak for the first time in conference play after winning consecutive MVC games for the first time in 2013.
Indiana State swept this weekend’s homestand despite leading scorer Munn getting held to 19 points on 6-of-21 field-goal shooting in the two games. Munn, who finished with 11 points, hit her first two shots Sunday before the defense tightened on her.
She contributed defensively and grabbed six rebounds and dished three assists, while Natasha Zurek also stepped up with six first-half points.
And ISU’s young post duo was extremely efficient and continued to show promise at the offensive end Sunday.
Laramie and Mahan combined to shoot 9-of-15 from the field and 8-of-10 at the free-throw line Sunday.
“Marina’s stepped in and doing a really good job,” Mahan said. “Coach is telling her all the time, ‘If you step up big, we’re going to be a really tough team to beat.’ She’s been stepping up and it’s been showing.”
TERRE HAUTE —
It was a typical day for Indiana State senior Taylor Whitley.
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