Crompton, Redbirds Defeat Drake with Stellar Shooting
Written by Mikey Fornelli on January 29, 2022
Image courtesy of goredbirds.com
NORMAL Ill,-The Illinois State University women’s basketball team closed the book on their busy weekend in the win column after defeating Drake 70-58.
Bouncing back from a slow start where they trailed by as many as twelve, the Redbirds relied on three-point shooting and crucial defensive stops en route to the win Saturday night in Normal.
“Our team does not get rattled; they have trust in one another.” Redbird head coach Kristen Gillespie said, “I thought today we did a nice job of sharing the ball. It was a great team win…we played with an incredible sense of urgency. It always helps when shots are falling, but even when they weren’t we managed to stay the course and chip away.”
It was a rough start for the Redbirds, scoring only two points in the first five minutes. Drake’s Megan Meyer opened on fire from behind the arc, connecting for the Bulldogs’ first six points. Drake’s defense did not allow the Redbirds to get inside much in the opening quarter, but a buzzer-beater layup by Maya Wong brought the Redbirds within five at 16-11.
Drake opened on an 8-0 run, still standing strong defensively against a struggling Redbirds team. After back-and-forth action ensued for most of the quarter, the Redbirds found themselves down 28-22 with 40 seconds left until halftime. Left wide open in the corner, Wong hit a three-pointer to bring it within three. Getting the ball back once more after a Juju Redmond steal, Mary Crompton let another corner three fly as time expired to tie up the game and ignited the Redbird Arena crowd.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” Gillespie said. “It’s a game of subtle momentum shifts. We went back into that locker room excited and with a pep in our step.”
It was a perfect start to third quarter action for ISU, as another Crompton three took the lead for the Redbirds and Wong added two more. The threes kept dropping for both teams as ISU built a 42-38 lead. Drake mounted a comeback, but yet another Crompton clutch, deep three-point bucket had the ‘Birds up five headed into the final ten minutes, 49-44.
“Drake played a zone,” Gillespie said. “Sometimes when teams play zone, Mary [Crompton] and Maya [Wong] hit some big shots. The fun thing about our team is when one three drops, it grows.”
As the fourth quarter played out, the Redbirds led by as many as twelve. Drake brought the score within six with just under two minutes to go, but that was as close as they got as they tried but failed to intentionally foul their way to a comeback. A trio of Wong, Crompton and Redmond combined for eleven late points at the charity stripe, making all but one FT attempt in the final two minutes before the win was sealed.
“It was a little bit surprising,” Crompton said of the Bulldogs’ late game foul strategy. “But we took advantage of what they gave us, of them fouling us with a good amount of time on the game clock. We knocked down some free throws.”
Drake’s Megan Meyer led the game in points with 22, including six three-pointers. Wong, Crompton and Redmond all scored in double-digits for the Redbirds, including Crompton’s 21 points behind five three-pointers and six free throws. In all, the Redbirds buried eleven three-pointers in the bucket for nearly fifty percent.
The Redbirds now sit at 7-2 in conference, splitting the weekend at home after Thursday’s loss to Northern Iowa. They’ll stay at home this week before hosting two more opponents next weekend in Evansville and Indiana State.