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Redmond, Gillespie, Locked in for WNIT After Falling in MVC tournament

Written by on March 19, 2021

Photo courtesy of goredbirds.com

Normal, Ill. – As the Illinois State women’s basketball team begin their first game in the WNIT tournament tonight, they seem to have regained their focus from last week’s loss to Loyola Chicago in conference tournament play.

After having their best regular season since 2013, the Redbirds could not quite beat the Ramblers for the third time in a row and it came in heartbreaking fashion, losing on the final shot attempt 61-60 in the MVC quarterfinals. After being invited to the WNIT for just the 13th time in the program’s history, star player JuJu Redmond remains confident in the team’s abilities.

“Like with the MVC Tournament, I’m going in confident and really focused,” Redmond said. “As a team, we’re making sure to come in with clear minds and we’re ready to move forward from last week and get the job done.”

For head coach Kristen Gillespie this is her first appearance at the NCAA division one level. She is excited for the program’s return to postseason play for the first time since 2013, 

“We’re so grateful to have the opportunity to continue playing and extend our season and I’m proud of our team for making our program’s first postseason in eight years,” Gillespie said. 

The Redbirds will be battling Tulane University tonight at 8 p.m. for the first game of the Redbirds WNIT campaign. Illinois State will be playing in Memphis, Tennessee, one of four WNIT regions for tournament play. The Tulane Green Wave and ISU last met in the WNIT in 2008, and have only met twice overall. 

Tulane presents a steep challenge for the Redbirds, they finished the season 17-8 and fourth in the ACC, with head coach Lisa Stockton in her whooping 27th season as the head coach boasting a 538-299 career record. Their star player, ACC Freshman of the year JerKaila Jordan, is averaging 16.6 points in her first season in college action. Coach Gillespie knows her squad will need to play the way they did at the end of the regular season when ISU finished with a five-game win streak.

“We’ve been playing really well and a lot of things have been clicking these last few weeks of the season,” said Gillespie. “We need to continue to stick to our game plan and stay really focused and committed to our team values in order to be successful in the WNIT.”

The Redbirds will play a minimum of two games in Memphis, Tennessee. If they lose tonight they’ll get a shot in a consolation bracket. For coverage of the women’s basketball team and all Redbird sports, check out WZND.com and listen to 103.3 WZND.