News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

January 25, 2014

Sycamore women stifle Missouri State, improve to 6-0 in MVC

Abdul-Qaadir leads ISU with 15 points, seven assists, four steals

TERRE HAUTE — What’s one key as to why the Indiana State women’s basketball team is unbeaten in the Missouri Valley Conference?

It’s their style. The Sycamores take away an opponent’s hope.

ISU did it again in an emphatic 74-57 victory over Missouri State at Hulman Center on Saturday. When a team forces turnovers and hits the offensive boards at the rate the Sycamores do, it has a devastating effect on their foe.

“It gives us some energy when we get those rebounds like that. Our focus was taking care of business defensively and the offense would take care of itself. That’s what we did,” ISU guard Anna Munn said.

The double dose of defensive pressure and offensive rebounding was statistically stark. Missouri State had a 4-to-24 assist-to-turnover ratio and ISU scored 27 points off turnovers.

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir led ISU with 15 points and had seven assists, but her four steals — all of which came in the first half — might have stood out most of all.

“Her on-the-ball pressure with their point guards was tremendous. It got them uncomfortable. They had difficulty running their offense,” ISU coach Teri Moren said.

ISU had 17 offensive rebounds, and while the Sycamores scored just 11 second-chance points, the second chances themselves frustrate a team whether points are scored off of them or not.

“Towards the beginning of the season, we weren’t rebounding the way we should have, and we lost some games we shouldn’t have. Now that we’re rebounding, we’re starting to win. Everyone knows they need to crash the boards. When a shot goes up, everyone is looking for it,” said ISU center Racheal Mahan, who scored 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting.

Offensive rebounding has been a strength all season for the Sycamores. ISU averages 14.5 per game, second-best in the MVC.

Anna Munn led ISU in rebounding for the second straight game. She had 10 rebounds to go with 11 points.

If there was a bad spot, it was ISU’s 19 turnovers. Moren’s solution to those turnovers might get her kicked out of the coachspeak union.

“Normally when you say ‘unselfish’, that’s a good thing. But sometimes it can be a bad thing in basketball. Right now, we’re guilty of being too unselfish,” Moren said. “If we’re a little more selfish, we’ll find ourselves with easy bumps off the glass instead of finding ourselves sharing [too much] with our teammates. The result of that today was we turned it over way too much.”

Led by Abdul-Qaadir at the point, ISU’s defense pressured Missouri State to distraction in the first half.

The Bears, who average 17 turnovers per game, had 16 in the first half alone. ISU had eight steals, including four by Abdul-Qaadir. Missouri State’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 3-to-16 at halftime.

“Coach [Joey] Wells is on my back about ball pressure. That’s my defensive play. I made a point today to interrupt some things and get us going early,” Abdul-Qaadir said.

ISU’s offense wasn’t running at optimum, but its ability to hit the offensive boards made up for it. The Sycamores had 12 offensive rebounds at halftime. This was without Marina Laramie, who sat out most of the first half in foul trouble.

A 12-2 run midway through the first half staked the Sycamores to a 23-12 advantage. Missouri State whittled the deficit to six late in the half, but an Anna Munn 3-pointer gave ISU its 29-20 halftime advantage.

The Sycamores (11-6, 6-0) knocked the Bears (7-10, 2-4) out with a 19-9 run to start the second half. From that point, ISU’s lead never dipped below a 16-point advantage and peaked when the Sycamores twice led by 22.

Saturday’s victory sets up a showdown at Hulman Center against Wichita State. The Shockers are also 6-0 in the MVC after pulling away at Illinois State on Saturday.

“Our kids pay attention, they know what’s at stake. We have an opportunity to beat a really good team on Monday. We can give them our best shot and see where we are defensively and see if we can withstand their pressure and score,” Moren said.

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