Redbirds Streak Past Creighton, 63-43
Ashleen Bracey
Ashleen Bracey

Jan. 1, 2009

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NORMAL, Ill. - Kristi Cirone scored 22 points and had seven assists as Illinois State posted a 63-43 Missouri Valley Conference-opening win over Creighton on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena Thursday afternoon. The 20-point margin was the largest conference-opening win for Illinois State since topping Indiana State by 26, Dec. 29, 1996.

Cirone tallied more than 20 points for the fifth-consecutive game to extend her career-long streak. The reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Week also notched five steals. Ashleen Bracey scored 11 as the only other Redbird player in double-figures.

Illinois State trailed for much of the first half and faced its largest deficit of the game after Megan Neuvirth hit a layup with 48 seconds left in the opening period. Cirone wouldn't let the Redbirds stay behind, however, as she hit a pair of free throws and set up Emily Hanley with a steal and assist as part of a five-point Illinois State swing in the final 15 seconds. The Redbirds trailed 30-29 at the break.

The Redbirds maintained their momentum in the second half and turned that six-point deficit into an 18-point advantage by the 8:47 mark. During that span, Illinois State outscored Creighton, 33-9, and shot better than 63 percent from the field. The Redbirds continued to push and extended the lead to 20 points by the end of the game.

Illinois State shot 42.9 percent for the game and limited the Bluejays to 24.2 percent - 13.2 in the second half. The Redbirds outscored Creighton, 34-10, in the paint, despite being out-rebounded on the offensive glass, 15-9. Illinois State scored 17 points off 15 Creighton turnovers and notched 14 fast-break points.

Neuvirth and Kristina Voss led the Bluejays with 11 points and were joined in double-figures by Chevelle Herring (10). Neuvirth notched a double-double, as she also contributed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Illinois State continues its three-game home stand when it plays host to Drake Saturday at 2:05 p.m., in Redbird Arena. The game is part of a basketball extravaganza weekend for Illinois State, as the Redbird men host Creighton at 7:05 p.m., Saturday. The Illinois State Athletics Department is offering general admission tickets to Saturday's women's game for $3, while upper-bowl tickets to the Redbird men's basketball game Saturday night will cost just $3.