NORMAL, Ill. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team continues its season Sunday facing Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in Normal, Ill., at 1 p.m.
Arkansas (22-11) has won four in a row and worked its way into the equivalent of the "Elite Eight". The winner of the Arkansas/Illinois State (23-10) game moves on to face the winner of the Southern California/Colorado game at a date and time to be announced later.
"It is exciting to still be playing," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "This team has desire and drive and wants to play and that is key at this point in the year. This team works hard every day and, so far, this has been a great experience."
Arkansas opened post season play with a 91-65 drubbing of Lamar in the first round March 17. The Razorbacks went on to a one-point win at Missouri State, 65-64, and followed with a solid, 78-59 win at Oral Roberts Wednesday.
The Razorbacks meet an equally hot Redbird team who is undefeated (16-0) at home this year.
"Illinois State is undefeated at home," said Collen. "They start five seniors and are a very driven, veteran crew. They are playing to win and they are the best team we’ve faced in the postseason so far."
Arkansas has redefined itself in the absence of a great scorer in junior Lyndsay Harris who torn her ACL in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. In the four games without Harris, the Razorbacks have seen several players step up.
Junior C’eira Ricketts and sophomore Sarah Watkins have been the team’s leading scorers all year and they continue to play well. Ricketts leads the team with 14.1 points per game followed by Watkins with 13.4 ppg.
Arkansas hosted SIU-Edwardsville in the final regular season game after the SEC Tournament and saw junior Ashley Daniels step up with a team-best 16 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
In the team’s most recent win it was freshman Christassia Walter who emerged scoring a career-best 26 points while freshman Keira Peak, also back from injury, led the team with eight boards.
"We knew someone would have to step up without Lyndsay in the lineup," Collen said. "We didn’t know who that might be and I think everyone is pleased to see that several different players have made the most of the opportunities when they get into the game. We all knew Chris was a talented player. It was great to watch her play with the level of confidence she displayed at ORU."
Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. tip and fans can listen to the radio broadcast or follow on-line with the in-game blog at ArkansasRazorbacks.com. A free video stream is also available at goredbirds.com.