The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State Women’s Basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular season title with a win over Northern Iowa, 85-72, on Saturday. Indiana State also earned the No. 1 seed in next week’s MVC Tournament in St. Charles, Mo.
The win secures at least a share of the MVC regular season title, with Wichita State looking to get a piece of it on Sunday against Missouri State. Indiana State earns the No. 1 seed in the tournament by conference tie breaker procedures as it split the series with the Shockers.
The Sycamores extended their win streak to six games, matching a season-high while they put up their second-highest offensive output of the season with 85 points. It also shot a season-high 53.6 percent from the floor with four players scoring in double-figures on the afternoon. Senior guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir led the team with her second straight 20 point effort, scoring 28 points and dishing out four assists.
The regular season title is the first for head coach Teri Moren in her ISU career. The Sycamores finish with a 19-10 overall record and 14-4 MVC, both season-best in Moren’s four year career.
Abdul-Qaadir went 11-for-19 from the floor, setting a new career-high for made field goals in a game. She also grabbed three rebounds and picked up a team-high two steals. Junior forward Chelsea Small poured in a career-high 16 points and tied for a team-high eight boards. Small went 5-for-6 from the field, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc.
Junior forward Jasmine Grier added 11 points and tied Small with eight rebounds. She has now scored in double-figures in the last three games and last four of five. Senior guard Anna Munn chipped in 10 points and picked up seven rebounds.
ISU shot a season-high 69.2 percent from the 3-point line, going 9-for-13 behind Small’s four treys. The defense held UNI to 37.3 percent shooting from the field and just 19 percent from behind the arc.
From the line, the Sycamores went 16-for-18 (88.9 percent) and out-rebounded the Panthers, 38-27. ISU’s bench accounted for 22 points led by Small’s 16, while scoring 26 points in the paint.
UNI didn’t go down without a fight, cutting the lead to nine with 5:41 to play on a pair of free throws by freshman Madison Weekly. Grier would pull up for back-to-back jumpers to extend the lead back to 13.
Junior forward Racheal Mahan made a move in the paint for two of her nine points on the night while Grier nailed a 3-pointer to help extend the ISU lead to 15 with 4:29 to play. Mahan got in foul trouble early, but still finished the game with nine points.
Indiana State controlled the game the entire way, holding the Panthers scoreless for the first 3:45 of the ball game, forcing a timeout after a made three pointer by sophomore forward Marina Laramie. Laramie finished the game with five points.
Six straight points off layups by Abdul-Qaadir helped ISU close the first half on an 8-1 run, taking a 34-21 break into the locker room.
Indiana State will begin play in the MVC Tournament at the Family Arena in St. Charles on Friday, March 14. Tipoff is set for 1:05 p.m. ET against the winner of the No. 8/No. 9 game and will be seen on Valley-Live.tv. The full MVC tournament bracket will be announced at approximately 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.