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ISU Redbirds Fall to Northern Iowa Panthers

Written by on January 27, 2022

Photo Courtesy from goredbirds.com

NORMAL, Ill.-The Illinois State Redbirds fall 74-67 to the University of Northern Iowa. The Redbirds have not won against UNI since 2020 so the team looked to come out strong against the Panthers.

The Redbirds leaned on DeAnna Wilson, as she was a strong component in the paint and in midrange looks. Wilson fought through defenders racking up 20 points and working for 13 rebounds.

“You have to give credit to UNI. They’re a heck of a team. So well-coached,” said Coach Kristen Gillespie after the loss on Thursday.

The University of Northern Iowa came out of the gate with an aggressive defense and quick transitions to keep the Redbirds off balance. Eight steals and 35 rebounds–Nicole Kroeger was a force in the game with eight rebounds of her own.

“It was a perfect storm of what our staff was most concerned about, one of the big keys was guarding the three-point line and I think we did a very average job of that,” said Gillespie on how the team can improve.

The Birds struggled to play with the lead, while the Panthers kept Illinois State on their heels by maintaining a lead for 31 minutes to only 3 minutes for the Redbirds.

Juju Redmond is another player that the Redbirds are confident in to get a bucket. The senior guard dazzled the court with her patented spin move. Keeping defenders off balance and drawing fouls, Redmond finished with 34 points and an unprecedented defensive presence.

“You talk about team leadership, that’s Juju. Every time we went on a run she put us together, she really kept us locked in the game.”

DeAnna Wilson speaks on her teammate Juju Redmond.

Northern Iowa was able to regain momentum time and time again with clutch threes. Kam Finley was 4-12 from the three-point line, giving the Panthers the strength they needed to keep the Redbirds at bay.

The fourth quarter had Redbird arena on their feet. The Birds came out with new energy as Maya Wong opened up the scoring with a much-needed three pointer. Redmond proceeded to carry Illinois State as she kept her team alive with her unstoppable moves and electric attitude.

With 14 seconds left the Redbirds had the last possession. On the inbound, a costly turnover ended in the Panthers regaining possession and increasing their lead to 5.

“We could have played with more urgency right from the start. We could have thrown the towel in but we made it a heck of a valley game,” said Gillespie.

Illinois State Women’s basketball moves on to the University of Bradley on Saturday, January 29. The Birds move down to third in the conference with a record of 6-2 in the MVC.