In a game where the biggest, strongest player on the floor looked like she might take the game over, the smallest player on the court came up with the biggest plays to secure the biggest win in Indiana State women’s basketball history.

Kelsey Luna, a 5-foot-5 guard, caught fire in the second half, getting 19 of her game-high 22 points in the second half and overtime, leading ISU to a win against the highhest-ranked opponent it’s ever beaten.

The Sycamores defeated No. 20 Vanderbilt 77-72 in overtime Wednesday in Hulman Center, possibly knocking the Commodores out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2005-06 season.

ISU’s only previous win against a ranked team came when it defeated No. 24 Missouri State in 1998 when ISU head coach Jim Wiedie was an assistant under Cheryl Reeve.

Wednesday night’s victory caused at least a full ISU student section to rush the floor behind mascot Sycamore Sam and celebrate with ISU players and coaches. Players were sure to credit the crowd of 3,800 fans for providing energy throughout the game.

“They were into it the whole game,” said ISU center Laura Rudolphi, who scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half and overtime and spent much of her energy defending Vanderbilt’s 6-4 senior Liz Sherwood, a fifth-year senior and Connecticut transfer who made 9 of her first 10 shots Wednesday, dominating with her massive size.

“I don’t think they realize how much impact [the fans] have to give us energy throughout the game.”

The play that gave ISU the separation it needed in overtime came when Luna looked for her shot with the shot clock winding down. Luna made a step-back move on Vanderbilt freshman Jessica Mooney, who was whistled for a foul on the play. Luna calmly sank all three free-throw attempts to give the Sycamores a 73-69 lead with 37.7 seconds remaining.

Luna caught fire in the second half after a making just 1 of 5 shot attempts in the opening half. Luna finished tied for a game-high with 22 points, making 5 for 12 from beyond the 3-point line.

“Growing up, you imagine yourself at the free-throw line, playing a big school, the score’s close, the time’s getting low … you don’t really think anything. It’s muscle memory. You just kind of let your body take control. If you think too much about it, you end up not making the shot,” Luna said.

Wiedie, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, said afterward he was enjoying the best moment of his career.

“I’ve never been a part of something like that. I’m more excited for the kids because you come to college to play Division I basketball and dream about playing against high-profile teams and to get an opportunity to play them on your floor … and have your fan base be a part of that and share that experience,” Wiedie said. “Those are things you take with you and never forget. It sure would be nice to get to an NCAA Tournament at some point, but right now this is the highlight of my coaching career.”

The game was far from clinched after Luna’s free throws.

ISU allowed junior Christina Wirth to drain a wide open 3-pointer at the top of the key with 30 seconds left. Vanderbilt used its final time-out after the shot went through to set up its full-court press.

ISU guard Leah Phillips got the ball in bounds around the body of the long arms and 6-foot-4 body of Liz Sherwood into Luna, but Luna was trapped in the corner. Wiedie called for his final time-out from the sideline.

With 23.1 seconds on the clock, Leah Phillips got the ball into Angela Phillips, who was immediately fouled. The senior point guard hit both shots to put ISU up 75-72 with 21 seconds remaining. After Kara Schilli got a hand in the face of Wirth’s shot with one foot on the 3-point line, forcing an airball, ISU found Angela Phillips, who hit two more foul shots with seven seconds left.

Vanderbilt freshman Jence Rhoads fired an airball 3-point attempt and the clock expired with fans rushing the court.

“This is the best win of my entire career,” the fifth-year senior Angela Phillips, a transfer from Kentucky, said during the postgame celebration. “I just kept saying ‘we can make making plays and win this.’”

ISU’s defense, despite allowing Vanderbilt to shoot 55.2 percent, forced 20 Commodores’ turnovers and made the stops when it needed them the most. Also, ISU converted Vanderbilt’s turnovers into 32 points, while Vanderbilt scored just four off ISU’s 12 turnovers.

“Defense was the answer tonight. We could’ve caved when they made their run in the first half, but we kept fighting,” Rudolphi said.

The Sycamores used a blue-collar effort, overcoming a 37-percent first-half shooting performance with hard-nosed defense and hustle.

“We’re fighters,” said Leah Philips. “We knew we could do this. We relied on our pride to stay with them.”

ISU fell behind 18-10 with 7 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first half, but the Sycamores stuck with it on the offensive end, cutting an 18-10 disadvantage to 19-18 with 4:23 to go in the half. By the 3:12 mark, the Sycamores were back in the lead for the first time since jumping out to a 7-2 lead at the start of the contest.

Junior guard Annie Bankhead came off the bench to spark the 8-1 run.

“If there was a time for [Bankhead] to pick to take a shot [and make it] that was it,” Wiedie said.

Bankhead drilled a 3-pointer with three seconds left on the shot clock at the 5:27 mark. It turned out to be the only shot she would take in her 16 minutes of action, although she did contribute three assists, including a superb pass to a cutting Kara Schilli on the ISU possession right after her 3-pointer.

Bankhead’s spark off the bench led the Sycamores’ bench to outscoring Vanderbilt 19-9.

Vanderbilt was able to take the momentum — as well as ISU’s one-point halftime lead — right out of the break, with Wirth scoring two of her 22 points with a 15-foot jump shot. Sherwood scored two of her 19 and the Sycamores trailed by three.

But Rudolphi drew one of two second-half charges on Sherwood at the 17:43 mark for the Vanderbilt player’s third foul. Sherwood picked up her fourth foul with 12:20 left in regulation and sat for almost six minutes on the bench.

Notes — ISU improved to 2-11 against ranked opponents … The Sycamore women had never hosted an Southeastern Conference opponent in Hulman Center, let alone the defending SEC tournament champion … ISU played Ole Miss in 1980 at home but ISU played in the Arena then. … An SEC basketball team of either gender has never won in Hulman Center. Mississippi State’s men’s basketball team played at Hulman Center in 1974 (74-75 season, 82-62 ISU victory). Vanderbilt’s men also played in Hulman Center in 1984, an 84-77 ISU win.

Vanderbilt 72

Player mi fg 3pt ft r a pf tp

Risper 45 6-11 0-1 0-2 13 5 3 12

Mooney 18 1-4 1-2 1-2 1 2 3 4

Rhoads 35 3-5 0-1 0-0 4 4 4 6

Sherwood 28 9-12 0-0 1-5 7 1 4 19

Wirth 45 10-16 2-6 0-1 10 3 1 22

Chisholm 0+ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Lueders 15 1-3 1-3 0-0 1 1 2 3

Tuomi 0+ 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Marsh 22 1-2 1-1 0-0 3 0 2 3

Norton 15 1-4 0-0 0-2 3 0 2 2

Malo 2 0-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 1

Totals 225 32-58 5-14 3-14 44* 16 21 72

Indiana State 77

Player mi fg 3pt ft r a pf tp

A.Phillips 35 1-8 0-2 4-4 0 5 0 6

Luna 40- 6-14 5-12 5-5 1 4 1 22

L.Phillips 41 2-8 1-6 2-3 2 2 0 7

Schilli 30 3-8 0-0 0-0 11 3 2 6

Rudolphi 25 7-16 0-0 3-4 6 1 3 17

Bankhead 16 1-1 1-1 0-0 2 3 2 3

Thatcher 5 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 1 0 3

Olsthoorn 20 5-7 0-0 2-2 3 0 0 12

Cooley 8 0-2 0-0 1-2 1 0 2 1

Rivest 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 3 0

Totals 225 26-65 8-22 17-20 32* 20 13 77

Halftime score — Indiana State 27, Vanderbilt 26. Regulat ion score: ISU 63, Vanderbilt 63. FG Pct. — VU .552, ISU .400. 3-pt FG Pct. — VU .357, ISU .364. FT Pct. — VU .214, ISU .850. Steals — VU 10 (Risper 6), ISU 7 (Luna 4). Turnovers — VU 20, ISU 12. Blocks — VU 3 (Norton 2), ISU 3 (Schilli, Rudolphi, Olsthoorn). (*) Includes team rebounds — VU 1, ISU 5. Att. — 3,800.

Next — Indiana State (2-0) plays in the Loyola Marymount Tournament on Nov. 23. Vanderbilt (2-1) is at Clemson on Tuesday.

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