3:05 PM ET, March 16, 2008
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) -- Kristi Cirone scored 20 points to lead Illinois State to a 70-62 victory over Drake in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament Sunday.It was Illinois State's first NCAA tournament berth in three seasons. Cirone, a regular season MVP, earned the tournament's most valuable player award Sunday.The top-seeded Redbirds (26-6) dominated the boards, outrebounding Drake 43-29 for the game.Ashleen Bracey had 14 points and 16 rebounds, matching her semifinals performance against Creighton a day earlier. Maggie Krick also had 14 points for Illinois State.The Bulldogs (22-10), who were defending tournament champions, were led by Lindsay Whorton's 17 points and Jill Martin's 16 points.The Redbirds, who trailed by as many as nine in the first half, used a 14-6 run near the end of the half and only trailed 35-34 at the break.Illinois State took the lead for good with a 7-2 run at the outset of the second half.