The ISU Redbirds struggled to keep up with the Evansville Aces for the majority of Wednesday night’s game, eventually going into overtime and falling in a 98-104 decision.
After being behind by nearly 20 points, the Redbirds were able to climb within points of the Aces, but it was not enough to clinch the victory.
Leading the Redbirds offensive campaign was Nick Zeisloft with 18 points, followed closely by Bobby Hunter and Daishon Knight with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
On the defensive side, Hunter also aided the Redbirds, pulling down nine rebounds.
The Redbirds and Aces both held high shooting percentages, with 43 and 52 percent. The high numbers contributed to two lead changes and five ties, forcing the teams into overtime.
The first on the board was Evansville, followed closely by a Hunter jumper.
Within the first five minutes of game time, the Aces jumped to an early lead with a score of 20-9.
A pair of Tony Wills free throws upped the Redbirds’ score to 13.
The Aces went on a 10-0 run, which was ended by a two-for-two performance by Reggie Lynch.
Evansville’s lead remained in the double digits despite layups by Knight and Hunter.
The gap stretched to 20 when Adam Wing of Evansville sunk four free throws.
Knight, Wills and Hunter tried to lessen the Aces’ lead, but were unsuccessful in the first half.
Heading into the locker room, the Redbirds trailed behind Evansville, 54-33.
The Redbirds came out of the gate strong with two Paris Lee free throws to open the second half.
Two layups by Knight and a shot beyond-the-arc from Hunter increased ISU’s score to 47, but it was not enough to scare the Aces, who were firmly in the lead with 61 points.
The two teams traded baskets for a few minutes, culminating in a 57-81 score.
Two threes by Lofton and Zeisloft sparked the Redbirds’ ascent to the lead 7:30 left in regulation play.
Zeisloft continued to fuel ISU’s fire with two three-pointers, a layup and a free throw.
Another layup by Lofton landed the Redbirds with a 71-83 score.
Evansville’s lead was finally cut down to single digits by a three-pointer by Zeisloft. Lofton later tied the game for the first time all night with a layup, making the score even at 89.
With renewed energy, the Redbirds continued to battle the Aces, shot for shot, until two free throws by Knight tied the game, 94-94, sending the game into overtime.
Evansville scored the first point of overtime, but was quickly answered by two Knight freethrows.
Knight went on to tie the game twice more during overtime.
The Aces finished the game with a 6-0 run, stealing a hard-won victory from the Redbirds.
ISU men’s basketball returns to action at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday when they battle Bradley at Redbird Arena.