With a name like hers, it's no coincidence Katie Broadway shines bright on a big stage. With 4,459 pairs of eyes on her, Broadway's 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining pushed the Illinois State women's basketball team past Illinois 53-51 on Sunday at Redbird Arena.
With a name like hers, it's no coincidence Katie Broadway shines bright on a big stage.
With 4,459 pairs of eyes on her, Broadway's 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining pushed the Illinois State women's basketball team past Illinois 53-51 on Sunday at Redbird Arena.
The victory, which came in front of the second-largest crowd for a women's basketball game at Redbird, put ISU (28-7) into the WNIT semifinals.
Broadway got the open look after grabbing her lone offensive rebound off a miss by Maggie Krick.
"It just fell right into my hands," Broadway said. "It was perfect. They doubled off on Nicolle (Lewis) and left me wide open. I stayed calm and knocked it down."
The Redbirds advance to the WNIT semifinals, where they will play host to California at 7 p.m. Thursday in Normal. Michigan and Miami face off in the other semifinal, scheduled for Wednesday.
Illinois State coach Robin Pingeton said she was glad to see the ball fall into Broadway's hands.
"I don't know that there is another kid on the court that we would have wanted to take that shot," she said.
The Redbirds were in control for much of the first half, leading by as many as nine. But Illinois (19-15) had some fight left.
After a Lewis layup opened the scoring in the second half, the Illini went on an eight-point run to take a 33-32 lead.
ISU answered back, but the Illini hung around for the remainder of the game before jumping ahead 51-50 on a Jenna Smith 3-pointer with 1:43 left.
After a pair of misses by both teams, Broadway's shot put the Redbirds up two.
Although Lydia McCully missed a jumper with three seconds remaining, U of I still had hope.
Smith came down with the offensive rebound, but she had her last second attempt blocked by Lewis at the buzzer.
"They had a stern, set chin coming in and they expected great things from each other," Pingeton said. "They knew it was going to be a battle."
The Redbirds held Smith, Illinois' all-time leading scorer, to 12 points. Smith said she wasn't sure how to feel about her career coming to an end.
"I just keep thinking, 'I'll never put this jersey back on and play a game,'" she said. "But then I think about how much we've grown together in our four years, and how we've grown as people, ... I just look forward to what (lies) ahead."
Karisma Penn had a team-high 13 points for the Illini. Lacey Simpson had 10 rebounds.
Illinois coach Jolette Law said although her team didn't win, she feels they went down the right way.
"They gave it their all, they fought to the bitter end," she said. "I couldn't ask for any more."
The three ISU seniors - Krick, Lewis and Ashleen Bracey - combined for 33 points.
Bracey had seven after going 0-for-12 from the field in a 62-51 loss to Illinois earlier in the year. The senior said she tried to ignore her individual statistics this time around.
"When you get into playing mind games with yourself and worried about your game, it kind of starts to effect you," she said "I didn't care how many points or rebounds I had today, I just cared about this team advancing."
Bracey got her wish.
Alex Mayster can be reached at email@example.com.