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Zoe Stewart back in Terre Haute scene

Jan. 11—It's been two years since Zoe Stewart unleashed a colossal scoring spectacle.

Two winters ago, it was to the tune of 45 points as she shattered the Terre Haute North High School girls scoring record in the Patriots' gym.

Stewart did it in a 72-64 win over the Marshall Lions on Jan. 11, 2022. Three days prior, she raised the previous bar with a barrage of 42 points at Southport in another win, for a combined 87 points the two games.

Less than four miles from that scene, the former Indiana All-Star dropped in 15 points for the Racers and had eight boards and a game-high four steals in their Missouri Valley Conference triumph over ISU.

On a night where the weather mirrored her eruption in high school — no snow and cloudy, and with 36 degrees feeling like 34 and cloudy — the Terre Haute native brought the vigor as a reserve for Murray State playing at Hulman Center.

She missed the Racers' appearance last year as she recuperated from a decorated prep career where she tallied 1,000 career points as a junior and finished with the single-season and career records for the Patriots.

"Redshirting was probably the best decision I could have made," Stewart reflected Thursday. "High school basketball was fun. I put a lot of pressure on myself, though, mentally and physically. I think taking that time off really helped me to regroup mentally, and just kind of reflect, and also taking that time to get stronger, faster [and] learn from these girls, learn about the game. Watch and see how things go because no matter what I think, anybody has to really adjust."

She likened her return to her hometown to the familiarity she has playing basketball.

"Honestly, it was so comfortable for me," Stewart said of the homecoming. "People were kind of asking me, I was nervous. I felt so comfortable just because this is my home."

"In those games, I was comfortable. I played my heart out. The points kind of came and I just flowed with it."

The Racers went to their bench with 7:21 left in the first quarter and Stewart finished a 15-footer from the right corner less than a minute later for an 11-5 lead.

She dropped a floater in the second period.

And the Terre Haute native's calling card for the night was the role of a disruptor.

Murray State deployed a full-court press that funneled her way and helped the Racers hold ISU at bay.

Her high motor disrupted the Sycamores and she was swift to pounce on loose balls on both ends.

In one instance, she put immense pressure on the ball as Indiana State crossed the timeline. With the first-half horn nearing and ISU looking to hold for one look, the Sycamores were forced to pass the ball. As a help defender, she was immediately able to snatch the ball from ISU near the 3-point line.

Her two-way impact was prominent and the epitome came with 3:17 left in the third quarter.

In a coast-to-coast play, she came up with a steal under the rim in transition and then eased to the basket on a slash, went up one-handed and finished through contact.

She tacked on a clutch bucket late as ISU cut its deficit to five to preserve the victory. After the win, she was in tears on the bench.

"It was just surreal, not even the simple fact of how I played, it's just the simple fact that I was blessed to be able to be here on this floor playing [NCAA] Division I basketball with a team that I love, being around people I enjoy," Stewart said. "My grandma ... she wasn't able to be here. But that's my rock, my No. 1 fan. I feel like I really put on for her today. I feel like she would really be proud of me."

Earlier, as she was lying on her back under the rim, she let out a loud yell in reaction to the and-one opportunity. It was a moment delayed by a year and a second anniversary of her night that rocked the Wabash Valley. And just like her lack of awareness for that point total against Marshall, she was oblivious to the date it happened.