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ISU Women Edge Illinois State Sunday

Sycamores now 3-0 in MVC play.

It came down to the wire, but the Indiana State Women’s Basketball team escaped with a 47-44 victory over Illinois State on Sunday afternoon at the Hulman Center. The Sycamores have now won three-straight to open up Missouri Valley Conference action and are 8-6 overall and 3-0 in the MVC in 2013-14.

The preseason conference favorite Sycamores never led by more than seven, and a last second layup by Illinois State’s Stekra Hall couldn’t find the bottom of the net. It helped Indiana State snap a three-game losing streak to the Redbirds.

Sophomore forward Marina Laramie posted her second double-double of the season with a team-high 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir also scored in double-figures with 10 points and adding five assists.

ISU had a hard time from the field on the afternoon as it shot just 38.0 percent (19-for-50) and got to the free throw line a mere eight times. The Sycamores also looked sluggish in the first half, turning the ball over 12 times in the opening frame as they were down 24-23 at the break on a last second Redbird 3-pointer to close the half.

The Redbirds (2-11, 1-2 MVC) would keep it close throughout the second half, as it came within two twice within the last four minutes. A front end of a one-and-one by Octavia Crump narrowed the ISU lead to 43-41. Abdul-Qaadir would get the jumper to go in to increase the lead back to four less than 20 seconds later but Crump’s layup again cut the lead to two.

Another front end of a bonus one-and-one had the Redbirds within one with 1:18 left on the clock. Indiana State was able to find Laramie in the paint off a dish by Zurek to help bring the lead back to three and seal their third-straight win.

Playing without senior guard Anna Munn (shoulder), the Sycamores couldn’t get anything going from behind the arc as it shot just 26.7 percent (4-for-15) on the afternoon.

Junior forwards Racheal Mahan and Chelsea Small each posted eight points and five boards while junior guard Stephanie Wittman, who made her first career start, added five points for Indiana State.

The Sycamores were plus six in rebounding, posting a 34-28 margin over their travel partner Illinois State.

Junior guard Natasha Zurek also dished out four assists and led with four steals while sophomore guard Kacey Johnson rounded out scoring with three points.

Indiana State is set for its first MVC road trip of the season to Evansville (Thursday) and Southern Illinois (Sunday). Tip is set for 8 p.m. against the Purple Aces and 3:05 p.m. ET against the Salukis.

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