TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – ISU’s historic season came to a close as it dropped a nail bitter with Marquette, 63-61, in the opening round of the WNIT on Thursday at Hulman Center. The Sycamores finish 2013-14 with a 20-12 (.625) overall record for the first 20 win season since 2005-06.
Junior forward Jasmine Grier knocked down a game-high 21 points while sophomore forward Marina Laramie chipped in 14 points.
Senior guards Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Anna Munn both scored in double figures as they ended their careers in a Sycamore uniform. Abdul-Qaadir finished with 10 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Munn, who capped off an impressive four-year career at ISU, recorded 12 points on four 3-pointers, going 4-for-8 from long range. The Indianapolis, Ind. native completes her career with 1,297 points and 497 rebounds. The MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, two-time All-MVC selection and three-time MVC Scholar-Athlete ranks 13th all-time in scoring as a Sycamore.
In just one season, Abdul-Qaadir scored 454 points, dished out 140 assists and picked up 62 steals. She led ISU in all three categories this season, earning her MVC Newcomer of the Year honors.
It was a back-and-forth battle between the two squads that featured nine ties and 13 lead changes. Neither team led by more than seven points throughout the contest with the game knotted at 28 at the half.
A tight second half evened up with 7:54 to play as Abdul-Qaadir made her first field goal of the night, tying the score up at 50-50. She scored her final six points in the last 7:54, as ISU would take a lead on junior forward Racheal Mahan’s free throw with 1:11 to play.
Marquette’s Katherine Plouffe would drive to the basket for a layup with 1:02 to play and help the Golden Eagles (22-10) keep a lead they would never relinquish.
It didn’t mean the Sycamores didn’t try, however. After fouling to stop the clock, the Golden Eagles converted on four bonus free throws in the final 22 seconds. Grier drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to put ISU back within two with four seconds left, but time expired on the Sycamores’ season.
ISU lost the battle of the boards to the second-best rebounding team in the nation, 50-26, as Plouffe grabbed 26 rebounds on the evening. The Sycamores shot just 28.8 percent from the floor on the night and 36 percent from beyond the arc.
They did a good job of protecting the basketball, committing just five turnovers on the night – the fewest since March 15, 2013 against Northern Iowa.
The Sycamores finished 20-12 overall for the best season under fourth year head coach Teri Moren. They also posted 14-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference and earned a share of their first regular season title since 2005-06. They were the league’s overall No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament. ISU will return 14 of 16 players on its roster for 2014-15.