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Illinois State Advances to the semifinals of WNIT for third-straight season

The Illinois State women’s basketball team remains perfect at home, as the Redbirds defeated Arkansas, 60-49, in the quarterfinal round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Sunday afternoon on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Illinois State’s home record improves to 17-0, and extends the all-time WNIT home record to 10-1.

With the win, Illinois State is the first team to make three-straight semifinal appearances since Triple Crown Sports took over the WNIT in 1998. The Redbirds will host USC Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

Katie Broadway and Shala Jackson each netted 16 points, as Emily Hanley recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Kenyatta Shelton pulled down 11 boards with six of them being offensive rebounds. Illinois State shot 42.6 percent from the field, and Arkansas shot 26.6 percent. The Redbirds outrebounded the Razorbacks 47-36.

Illinois State held Arkansas to 18 points in the first half, which was the seventh time this season that the Redbirds have held an opponent to less than 20 points in a half. The last time ISU accomplished the feat was at home against Evansville (2/24/11), when the Purple Aces scored 18 points in the second half.

At the half, seven Redbirds had scored, including Jackson, who led all scorers with nine points. Shelton had nine boards with five of them coming on the offensive side of the ball. Illinois State shot 39.3 percent from the field, while Arkansas went 22.6 percent from the field.

Arkansas started the game 0-for-6 from the field and was held scoreless for nearly five minutes to start the game. The Redbirds used the Razorback dry spell to jump ahead to an early 10-0 lead with a pair of jumpers by Jackson and back-to-back three pointers by Candace Sykes and Broadway. Arkansas got on the board with a jumper by C’eira Ricketts with 15:13 remaining in the first half, 10-2.

Despite the quick lead, both teams went scoreless for more than five minutes before Hanley banked in a layup to give ISU a 10-point lead, 12-2, with 9:55 left in the half. Illinois State used a 13-5 run to take a 16-point lead, 25-9, which was the largest lead of the first half. During the run, Jackson was fouled while driving the lane, but was able to sink the shot and the free throw to complete a successful three-point play. Broadway hit a three just before the half to give the Redbirds a 31-18 advantage over the Razorbacks heading into the locker room.

Broadway made 10 points in the second half, including five-straight points to give Illinois State its largest lead of the game, 52-31, with 9:56 left in the game. Arkansas cut ISU’s lead down to 11 with under a minute left in the game, but the effort was not enough, as the Redbirds advanced to their third-straight semifinal round of the WNIT.

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