Illinois State struggled to keep up with the Bradley Braves (BU) in Wednesday night’s contest, ultimately falling to BU, 64-45 at Carver Arena in Peoria.
Leading the Redbirds offensively were Paris Lee and Daishon Knight with eight points-a-piece, followed closely by Nick Zeisloft, Reggie Lynch and Tony Wills, each scoring seven points.
Bobby Hunter headed the Redbird defense with a career high of eight rebounds.
Illinois State maintained a steady scoring percentage, hovering at 32.7 percent for the game.
The first on the board was Illinois State thanks to a dunk by Lynch with a Zeisloft assist, followed closely by a three pointer by Lee, all within the first three minutes of game time.
The Redbirds outscored the Braves 11-3, six of those points from Lynch, within the first nine minutes.
ISU’s lead was stolen when the Braves went on a 10-0 run, taking their first lead 13-11 at the 10:39 mark.
A shot beyond-the-arc by Zeisloft helped the Redbirds to regain their lead, until a 7-2 run by the Braves gave them back the 25-20 lead with 27 seconds remaining in the first half.
Hunter grabbed a rebound and scored at the buzzer to close the gap to 25-22 heading into the locker room.
It was a game of unfortunate injuries for the Redbirds with a Lynch nose injury and a knee injury to Zach Lofton, rendering him inactive for the second half.
“When Reggie got hurt I think it took the wind out of our sails a little bit, we dropped our heads a little bit. They went on a run and we didn’t respond very well,” head coach Dan Muller said.
The Redbirds started the second half strong with a three-pointer from Lee to tie the game at 25. Lee’s shot sparked an ISU 10-2 run, pushing the ’Birds to a 32-27 lead.
Bradley responded by outscoring ISU, 21-3 for a 46-35 lead. Bradley’s Walt Lemon, Jr., who led all scorers during the contest, made his first of 20 buckets with 9:36 left in the game, scoring nine during the Braves’ run.
A three-pointer by Zeisloft pulled the Redbirds within 59-45, but Bradley refused to give up its double-digit lead and held the Redbirds off until the end of the contest, defeating them 64-45.
Zeisloft sites a hole in the Redbirds offense, noting the 17 turnovers during Wednesday night’s game.
“Anytime you have 17 turnouvers in a game, especially on the road, your chances of winning go down greatly,” Zeisloft said. “We need to cut our turnovers down and that will be the focus for Saturday’s game.”
Illinois State returns to Redbird Arena to open a two-game home-stand, which will begin at 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 against Drake.