The shock value from last night’s men’s basketball game lay within the stands where 9,510 fans, dressed head-to-toe in red, packed in to see the Redbirds battle the Wichita State Shockers. Redbird Arena, with a capacity of 10,200, had not been this full since the 2010 contest against Bradley.
After maintaining the lead throughout the first half, the Redbirds struggled from beyond-the-arc, finishing one-for-25, and eventually fell to WSU, 70-55.
“We played really good the first half, competed as hard as we could, we came out the second half and did not play with the same intensity, and they did,” ISU head coach Dan Muller said.
Leading the ISU scoring campaign were Daishon Knight with 12 points and Bobby Hunter with 10. Knight also topped the Redbird rebound count with eight boards.
The Redbirds got off to a quick start, with Paris Lee and Zach Lofton making layups off of Shocker turnovers. ISU’s opening run was interrupted by Shocker Fred Van Vleet, but the Redbirds maintained the lead with a jumper by Hunter.
Wichita threatened the Redbird lead by evening the score at 8-8, but with a layup and a two-for-two effort at the free-throw line, Tony Wills increased the gap by four.
The two teams inched within points of each other with WSU’s Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker connecting on a three-pointer and a jumper, and Lofton making a layup. ISU led, 23-20 with 4:24 left in the half.
The Shockers tied the game at 23-23 thanks to a three-pointer by Tekele Cotton and a layup by Darius Carter. Seconds later, a jumper by Lofton brought ISU back on top with 41 seconds left in the half.
After an ISU time out, Reggie Lynch dropped a bounce pass to Hunter who scored a layup at the buzzer. The Redbirds headed into the locker room with the lead, 28-25.
Wichita State emerged in the second half with a 10-1 run to take the lead back for the rest of the game. A Baker three-pointer from the corner forced the Redbirds to call a time out, after which another three-point play extended WSU’s lead to 41-33.
“We were fired up going into half time and we had some momentum, we were talking about just staying focused and coming out on the second half and winning the first four minute war, but we came out flat and that hurt us,” Hunter said.
WSU’s lead reached double digits due to a flagrant foul by Wills and a two-for-two performance at the free-throw line by Baker with 13:36 left in the contest.
A jaw-dropping dunk by Cotton over John Jones was answered by a 9-0 Redbird run, bringing WSU’s lead down to single digits.
The Shockers countered the Redbirds’ run with one of their own, scoring five points and shutting the ’Birds out of the game.
Heading off the court, Muller hopes his team can learn from this game and continue to improve.
“To beat a team like that you have to play 40 good minutes and we didn’t,” Muller said. “We have to fight and claw and play as hard as we can at all times to beat that team … we’ve got to learn from it.”
The Redbirds hit the road on Saturday to take on Indiana State. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m., this Saturday at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Ind.