A quick start helped the Indiana State Women’s Basketball team to a victory in its Missouri Valley Conference opener over Northern Iowa, 60-53, Friday evening in front of 2,449 fans at the Hulman Center. The preseason favorite Sycamores improved to 6-6 overall and 1-0 in league play.
Indiana State opened up conference play on a 13-0 start in the first half, holding the Panthers (4-8, 0-1 MVC) scoreless for the first six minutes of the contest. The Sycamores were paced by a career day from senior guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir who poured in 20 points as she went 11-for-12 from the free throw line along a career-high nine rebounds and six assists.
Junior forward Racheal Mahan nearly recorded a double-double with 10 points and tied for a team-high nine rebounds along with a team-high three steals.
The Sycamores took their largest halftime lead of the season, 32-21, behind Abdul-Qaadir’s 10 first half points. But a rally by the UNI in the second half cut the ISU lead down to as little as three on a basket by Stephanie Davison with 4:03 left in the second half.
Abdul-Qaadir followed that up with a good bucket of her own 30 seconds later but a good free throw by the Panthers kept them within four. On the evening, UNI shot 17-for-19 (89.5 percent) from the charity stripe.
A bucket by junior guard Stephanie Wittman and two good free throws from Abdul-Qaadir extended the Sycamore lead back to eight with 33 seconds remaining. UNI would hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining and call timeout but Abdul-Qaadir again showed her dominance by getting fouled and sinking and one-and-one.
Wittman recorded six points on 3-for-6 shooting while senior guard Anna Munn, ISU’s leading scorer, was held to seven points but picked up four rebounds and two assist.
All but one of Indiana State’s players scored on the evening including six points from sophomore forward Marina Laramie. Sophomore guard Kasey Johnson and junior guard Natasha Zurek each had three points.
As a team, Indiana State outrebounded the Panthers 38-32, and dished out 15 assists.
ISU returns to the court on Sunday when it hosts Drake at 2:05 p.m. in the Hulman Center. Live audio will be available on 98.5 WIBQ FM with Kurt Darling and Jimmy Kendall with live video on GoSycamores.com.