Illinois State men’s basketball team’s offense had problems getting past intense defensive pressure put on by Manhattan (3-1) and fell to 1-3 on the season with a 79-70 loss on Wednesday in Redbird Arena.
“Manhattan came out and was more ready to play than we were,” Head Coach Dan Muller said. “The start to the second half killed us. We didn’t compete hard enough and the better team tonight won.”
The Redbirds turned the ball over seven times in the first five minutes of the game and fell to an early 8-0 deficit. They fought back a couple of times but ultimately could not recover. A late-game push by ISU cut the Jasper lead from 16 to four points, but it could not overcome the deficit.
The defensive pressure put on the ’Birds by the Jaspers forced Muller to go with a small line-up for most of the second half. Manhattan controlled the glass in the contest with a total of 46 rebounds, compared with ISU’s 32, and a 17-to-seven advantage on the offensive boards. Manhattan connected for 24 second-chance points in the game
The rebounding, turnovers and lack of preparation compared to the Jaspers were key contributors to the loss, Muller said.
“Our rebounding effort was horrendous,” Muller said. “They competed harder than we did for 40 minutes.”
Freshman center Reggie Lynch had a career high with 12 points. He chipped in five rebounds and three blocks. Lynch scored the Redbirds’ first seven points of the game giving them some much-needed life.
ISU had four players with double-digit points led by Daishon Knight with 21, Lynch with 12, while Nick Zeisloft and Zach Lofton added 10 apiece.
“We came to the huddle and we said we were going to never stop playing,” Knight said. “Maybe a couple of times we got a little stagnant but we got through it and put-up some good shots and hopefully next time we are going to make those shots.”
Big men Michael Middlebrooks and John Jones could not get their offensive games going, as each of them did not score a single point in the contest. Middlebrooks led the team with 10 rebounds and five blocks in 25 minutes played.
Manhattan was led by George Beamon who scored 24 points on 8-16 from the field and 7-9 free throws, followed by Rhamel Brown with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The Jaspers did not shoot the ball much better than the Redbirds. They shot 35.7 percent from the field on 20-for-56 from the field, while the Redbirds went 20-for-53 and shot 37.7 percent from the field.
The turnover game was even with each team turning the ball over 21 times.
The Redbirds return to action next Wednesday, when they face Vermont in the first game of the USF Golden Gate Challenge tournament in San Francisco, Calif. Tip-off is slated for 10:15 p.m.