Top 5 ISU WBB Games of the 2021-2022 Season
Written by Eric Schweizer on April 14, 2022
Image is courtesy of goredbirds.com.
NORMAL, Ill.- It was a remarkable season for the Illinois State Women’s Basketball team as they were Missouri Valley Champions for the first time since 2008, earning a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time under head coach Kristen Gillespie. In a season such as this one, there were plenty of memorable games, but let’s look at some of the best games from the 2021-2022 season.
An honorable mention goes to Illinois State vs Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes got the better of the Redbirds 98-58. Although the Redbirds lost this was their first appearance since ’08 and it was a special moment in Iowa City.
- Jan. 27, Northern Iowa 74, ISU 67: JUJU, Wilson shine in loss to Northern Iowa
There were plenty of great games for the Redbirds, including losses like this one. The Redbirds lost to Northern Iowa 74-67 at home as the Panthers gave ISU their second conference loss of the season. This game was highlighted by Redbird studs, Juju Redmond and Deanna Wilson. Redmond dropped 34 points in the loss. Wilson added 20 more as they combined for 54 of the Redbirds 67 points. A highlight reel game for the two showed how much talent they could unlock. As well as showing the importance of team defense that would develop as the season went on.
- Feb. 12, ISU 85, Valparaiso 80: Redmond and ‘Birds on fire, win 12 of 14
A few weeks later Redmond did it again. This time dropping her career high 37 points as she led the Redbirds to a big time win over Valparaiso on the road. In addition to her 37 points, Redmond added six rebounds and four assists. Mary Crompton added 19 points of her own as the Redbirds won their fifth game in a row and had won 12 of their last fourteen to find themselves at the top of the MVC.
- Jan. 22, ISU 52, Missouri State 51: Redbird’s edge MVC favorites on the road.
After being down three at the half to Missouri State, the Redbirds battled in the second half in a grind it out game. The Redbirds were up six before a late 5-0 run by the Bears made it a one score game with 19 seconds left but a strong defensive stand in the final seconds led to a missed jumper by the Bears and a much-needed confidence booster for ISU. This win snapped Missouri State’s 15-game home winning streak as the Redbirds held on 52-51 to stay at the top of the valley.
- Feb. 6, ISU 72, Indiana State 64: ISU breaks records with Play4kay game
This game makes the list for more than just on the court reasons. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 72-64 behind Juju Redmond’s 25 points. The game was ISU’s annual Play4Kay game in which the Redbirds raised a program record $35,870 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The fundraising efforts put together by the Redbirds earned them their first Play4Kay national award winner. The Redbirds are the first mid-major to sweep the Division I BCS and Non BCS national awards.
- Mar. 13, ISU 50, UNI 48: Redbirds back on top, defeating UNI in the MVC Championship.
It would be a crime to not put this at the top. The Redbirds defeated Northern Iowa in the MVC Championship game to earn them their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008. The Redbirds got off to a hot start, going up 10-2 before the Panthers rallied to take the lead at halftime. The ‘birds found themselves down 48-42 with 5:12 to go. The Redbirds defense was able to hold UNI scoreless the rest of the way and score the final eight points to get the win 50-48 and secure their first MVC Championship In 14 years. Juju Redmond led the way for ISU, leading all scorers with 21 points in route to being named the MVP on the tournament.
Although the season ended before the Redbirds wanted it to, this season will go down as one for the memory books.