The Illinois State men’s basketball team got sweet revenge on Saturday as the Redbirds won the final battle of the 2014 ‘War on 74’ against in-state and Missouri Valley Conference rival Bradley in a 70-54 decision. The ’Birds previously fell to the Braves, 64-45, on Jan. 29 in Peoria.
The victory marked the seventh-consecutive win for the Redbirds over the Braves at Redbird Arena — the longest home-court winning streak in series history. ISU now sits on a 14-12 overall record (7-7 MVC), including a 10-3 record at home.
“We played a pretty complete game,” ISU head coach Dan Muller told WJBC Radio. “Daishon Knight had a heck of a game. It was a great team effort. I thought our crowd was awesome. Thank you to everybody who came. It’s always nice to beat Bradley.”
Knight fronted the Redbird offense with a career-high of 26 points, including a 5-for-7 effort beyond-the-arc. Paris Lee followed with 13 points, while Bobby Hunter rounded out ISU’s double-digit scorers with 10 points. Jamaal Samuel contributed eight rebounds en route to the win.
“Fifteen minutes, eight rebounds in the first half, a couple blocked shots — [Samuel] was terrific. [He] continues to get better. Obviously his rebounding in the first half was key to our success in the first half.”
Knight, Lee and Samuel helped to give the Redbirds the 13-2 lead by the 13:50 mark, including a two-handed dunk from Samuel. The Braves responded however, going on an 18-5 run of their own to take the 20-18 lead with 6:02 left in the first half.
The two teams exchanged baskets in teeter-tottering fashion until a trey and two free throws from Lee and another free throw from Knight secured the 30-27 halftime advantage for ISU.
To open the second half, Knight netted back-to-back treys to outscore Bradley, 8-5. BU would pull within three points, but a 9-3 Redbird run would give ISU the 44-35 advantage with 14:03 remaining.
Zach Lofton nailed a shot beyond-the-arc to give ISU the 10-point lead. Reggie Lynch then widened the ’Birds’ lead to 51-39 at the 11:18 mark.
The Braves would cut ISU’s lead back down to single digits with 6:27 to play, but ISU quickly stretched its advantage back out as Lee, Knight and Hunter hit consecutive three-pointers to build the Redbird lead to 64-48. ISU went on to outscore Bradley, 70-54.
ISU will hit the Doug Collins Court hardwood again at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday as they host Missouri State.