Redbirds Hit the Road to Take On Ball State

Dec. 11, 2009

 Date  December 13 // 12 p.m.
 Location  Worthen Arena // Muncie, Ind.
 Video  None
 Live Stats  None
 Game Notes  Illinois State  //  Ball State

Maggie Krick - G Krick is off to the best start to a season in her career. She leads the Valley in scoring (19.8) and has scored in double-figures in the first five games of the season for the first time in her career. Krick tied her season-high with 24 points and career-high 10 field goals against Northern Illinois last week. Krick is averaging 13.3 points per game in three games against Ball State. She was one of four Redbirds to score in double-figures against the Cardinals last season, tallying 14.

Emily Maggert - F
Maggert is averaging a double-double on the young season, with 15.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. She is averaging double-figures in both categories, but only has two double-doubles on the season. Both double-doubles have come in the last two games, with 20 points and 13 rebounds at North Dakota and 17 points and 14 rebounds against Green Bay. Maggert had 12 points, connecting on 6-of-6 free throws, and five rebounds against Illinois State last year.

Illinois State leads the all-time series with Ball State, 4-3. The two teams first met in 2001 and have played annually since 2003. After losing three of the first four meetings, the Redbirds have beaten the Cardinals in three-straight games by an average of 20 points per game. ISU is 42-17 all-time against teams in the Mid-American Conference and has not lost to a MAC team since falling to Northern Illinois in the 2006-07 season-opener, a streak of 12-consecutive wins.

Coming into the season, Illinois State knew it would need to rely on the senior trio of Ashleen Bracey, Maggie Krick and Nicolle Lewis for success. The trio has stepped up big so far, making up the top-three Redbird scorers and rebounders and combining for 61.8 percent of the ISU scoring production.

Every season throughout her career, Illinois State senior Maggie Krick has increased her production on the court. As a captain and Preseason All-Valley selection for the second-straight year, big things were expected of Krick in her final season and she has come through to exceed expectations. Through the first five games of the season, Krick leads the Valley in scoring (19.8 ppg), the best start to a season in her career. For the first time ever, she has scored in double-figures in all five games and has been to the free throw line nearly triple the amount in any previous season, shooting at an 87 percent clip from the charity stripe.

Redshirt senior Nicolle Lewis blocked three shots against Northern Illinois, moving her into a tie for fourth place on the Valley career blocks list with Bradley's Dena Williams (197). Lewis is on the cusp of becoming the fourth player in Valley history to amass 200 blocks. She leads the Redbirds with eight blocks on the season and already holds the ISU career and single-season records for blocks.

Juniors Emily Hanley and Hannah Spanich have each spent a season on the sideline, watching the Redbirds' success after transferring from other schools. Both are on the court this year, and having a solid impact. Spanich is fourth on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg) and has scored in double-figures three times. Hanley is fourth on the team in rebounding (4.8 rpg) and has grabbed at least six rebounds three times.

ISU is cashing in its free throws early on in the season. The Redbirds lead the Valley in free throw percentage (.786) and have four players ranked in the top-15. Illinois State's win over South Dakota State can largely be attributed to the Redbirds' performance from the free throw line. ISU shot 28-for-36 from the charity stripe during the game, the sixth-most free throws in school history and three shy of the Redbird Arena record, set in 2004 against Northern Iowa. ISU led by just one point with 10:58 remaining in the game, but shot 17-for-21 from the free throw line the rest of the way, leading to a 12-point victory. Six of the eight Redbirds shot at least four free throws in the game.

The Redbirds are averaging 5.0 three-pointers per game this season and are shooting 36.6 percent from long range, good for third-best in the Valley. ISU's propensity for long range shooting is nothing new; given the fact that since Robin Pingeton became head coach in 2003-04, the Redbirds have been letting fly from three-point range at a record rate. Pingeton's six seasons make up the top-six records in three-point field goals in school history. ISU's 184 three-pointers last season were the fifth-most in school history and the Redbirds have eclipsed 200 triples three times in the years during the Pingeton era.

The term mid-major has been used so frequently to describe teams outside of the six major conferences in recent years. The Valley has been placed in the category of mid-major, but the stretch of teams that Illinois State has played recently has shown that the Redbirds can take on anyone in the county. Over an eight-game stretch, dating back to the WNIT last season, ISU faced teams from the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and WAC, posting a 5-3 record. Illinois State hadn't played a such a daunting stretch of non-conference opponents since the 1998 season. The Redbirds also threw South Dakota State in the mix, a team that won 32 games last season. Before falling to the Redbirds, the Jackrabbits had only lost four games in the past two seasons, three of which were to top-10 teams Arizona State, Baylor and Maryland, and were receiving votes in both national polls.

Illinois State and South Dakota State are two of the best programs in women's college basketball that many people don't know much about. Both teams have won 20 games in each of the last three seasons, posting a combined record of 155-42. In the second all-time meeting between the two schools Nov. 19, Illinois State came out on top, 79-67. ISU made 28 free throws and forced 25 turnovers to overcome a stellar shooting performance by the Jackrabbits (51.2% from the field, 47.8 % from three-point range).

In its first appearance in the longest running active women's basketball tournament in the country, Illinois State came in second place in the KCRG-TV9 Hawkeye Challenge. Illinois State became the first Valley team to reach the championship in the conference's sixth appearance. Seniors Maggie Krick and Nicolle Lewis were both named to the all-tournament team.

Junior Maggie Krick (1,152) and redshirt junior Nicolle Lewis (1,085) both joined the ISU 1,000-Point Club at the end of the 2008-09 season, bringing the membership up to 24. There have been five years in Illinois State history when two players have scored their 1,000th point in the same season. Krick and Lewis are the first duo to start a season with 1,000 points since 1990-91, when Cindy Kaufmann and LuAnn Robinson were both seniors.

Illinois State was projected to finish in second place in the annual Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, conducted by the leagues coaches, sports information directors and media. Illinois State received 340 votes, falling just behind Creighton (393). The Bluejays (34) and Redbirds (6) were the only teams to receive first-place votes. ISU has been picked in the top-three in the preseason poll in each of the last three seasons. In three of the four previous years the Redbirds were picked second in the preseason poll, they wound up winning the MVC regular-season title.

Senior guard Maggie Krick was named to the Preseason All-Valley team for the second-consecutive year. Krick is ISU's leading returner in scoring, three-point field goals, assists, steals and minutes. She was a Preseason All-Valley pick before last season and was named to the All-Valley Second Team after averaging 12.6 points per game. She was joined on the preseason all-conference team by Megan Neuvirth (Creighton), Jordann Plummer (Drake), Kelsey Luna (Indiana State) and Casey Garrison (Missouri State). Neuvirth was named the Valley Preseason Player of the Year; the first year the award has been given on the women's side. All five players on the preseason team were All-Valley selections last year.

National Signing Day came Wednesday, Nov. 11, and Illinois State had three high school seniors sign National Letters of Intent to play for the Redbirds beginning in 2010-11. Marley Hall (West Hancock/Warsaw, Ill.), a 6-foot-2 forward, Chloe Nelson (Incarnate Word/St. Louis, Mo.), a 5-foot-7 guard, and Alison Seberger (Montini Catholic/Lombard, Ill.), a 6-foot-2 guard, will be freshmen for the Redbirds next season.

Illinois State's WNIT berth last season marked the third-consecutive year the Redbirds have advanced to postseason play. It was the third time ISU was in the postseason at least three-straight seasons. ISU made three postseason trips from 1988-90 and six-consecutive from 1980-85.

Illinois State completed another rare three-peat last season. The Redbirds won 20 games for the third-straight season for the third time in program history. The Redbirds won 20 games from 1982-85 and 1987-90. ISU has also completed back-to-back 25-win seasons for the first time in program history.

Illinois State's 27 wins were the second-most in program history, one win shy of the school record 28 set in 1980-81. The Redbirds' win over Wichita State Feb. 14 secured the 12th 20-win season in program history and marked the third-straight 20-win season, a feat achieved just one other time (1982-85). The Redbirds reached the 20-win plateau in the second-fewest games ever (24), falling just short of the 23 games it took the team last season, and set a school record for regular-season wins (24). Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.