After picking up two of three wins at the San Francisco Golden Gate Challenge last week, the Illinois State men’s basketball team (4-4) kept its momentum going with a 75-56 victory over Chicago State (3-5) last night in Redbird Arena.
Neither team’s offense was particularly strong for the first half. The Cougars were the first to get on the board with 16:30 left in the half, before center Reggie Lynch made the Redbirds’ first basket with over five minutes of the game in the books.
Off the bench, Lynch got the Redbirds on the board by scoring the team’s first seven points: first, with a reverse layup and an and-one free throw, next with a strong post move under the basket and then with a put-back off of an offensive rebound. He finished the game with a career-high 14 points and pitched in five rebounds and three blocks.
“I appreciate that the guards were able to find me because getting it inside and getting the paint touches is what makes offense work,” Lynch said.
Illinois State shot only 10-29 from the field and 3-16 from beyond the arc in the first, but only trailed by two points at the break, 30-28.
Redbird’s head coach Dan Muller said they are a team that is going to take a lot of perimeter shots.
“We got good shots in the first half — we just didn’t make them,” Muller said. “It wasn’t a complete lack of execution, we took a couple of questionable ones and we just didn’t make them … We got the pace going, because we were scoring, so they had to pick up their pace a little bit. I thought our depth really helped us.”
The Redbirds’ overall speed and unselfish play of their offense began to overwhelm the Chicago State defense at the beginning of the second half. They held a lead for the better part of the final period.
Muller utilized his bench thoroughly in the contest, using 11 different players in the rotation.
Daishon Knight led ISU with 15 points, all of which came in the second half. He was followed by Lynch with 14, Bobby Hunter with 12 and Nick Zeisloft with eight. Knight and Nick Zeistloft led the team with seven rebounds each.
“Daishon Knight got us off to a great start in the second half,” Muller said. “I thought that was huge. He stepped up and made a couple of jumpers and I thought that really increased the confidence level of all of our players.”
The defensive effort of the ’Birds, unlike the often sporadic offense, was solid the entire game. Their two-three zone and press worked to slow the Cougars.
“We played good defense throughout the game,” Muller said.
The Redbirds will next face No. 25 Dayton at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Redbird Arena, and the game will be boadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.