Senior guard and MVC Newcomer of the Year Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir led ISU with 19 points, six boards and four assists. Junior forward Racheal Mahan posted another dominate game on the boards, grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
Nine of Mahan’s boards on the afternoon were on the offensive glass, as she posted a combined 33 rebounds in two tournament games. Her 16 rebound effort ranks tied for sixth in a conference tournament game.
Offensively, Indiana State shot just 32.4 percent from the field and a dismal 46.7 percent from the free throw line (7-for-15). The Sycamores did narrowly out-rebound the Bulldogs, 48-42, and posted 21 offensive boards.
ISU held a 32-27 advantage at halftime, backed by Abdul-Qaadir’s 11 points and Mahan’s seven boards. The Sycamores held off the potent Drake 3-point attack in the opening period, holding them to just 7.1 percent from beyond the arc (1-for-14). On the afternoon, Drake went just 22.2 percent from 3-point range and finished the game 38.2 percent from the floor.
Prior to Saturday’s game, ISU was 14-1 when leading at halftime.
ISU couldn’t maintain a five point lead at the break, going scoreless for the first 4:23 of the second half as Drake built momentum. ISU would tie it with 13:28 to play on a Mahan jumper, but three consecutive three pointers from MVC Freshman of the Year Lizzy Wendell and MVC Player of the Year Kydnal Clark increased the Bulldog lead back to nine with 10:17 to play. The duo combined for 40 points to help advance to Sunday’s tournament championship.
ISU came within four with 1:23 to play on an Abdul-Qaadir 3-pointer. ISU was forced to foul with Drake in the double bonus as they hit eight in the final 1:13 to advance to Sunday’s tournament championship game.
The Sycamores led by as many as 11 in the first half on an Abdul-Qaadir drive into the paint with 5:08 to play. However, ISU was held scoreless for the next 3:10 allowing Drake to come within three just before the intermission.
Junior guard Natasha Zurek came in with four seconds left in the first half after Abdul-Qaadir picked up her third foul. She stole the Drake in-bounds for a bucket to give ISU a five point lead at half.
Junior forward Chelsea Small came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Marina Laramie added seven points, four rebounds and a block in the loss.
Senior guard Anna Munn and juniors Jasmine Grier and Stephanie Wittman each added five points for the Sycamores, who broke a seven game win streak in the loss.
Saturday’s semifinal appearance marked the second appearance for the Sycamores in head coach Teri Moren’s four seasons at the helm, returning for the first time since 2010-11.
ISU will await a postseason selection on Monday with the NCAA field announced at 7 p.m. ET followed by WNIT selections in the hours following. Last season, the Sycamores made their first postseason appearance in the WNIT since 2005-06.
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