Illinois State’s men’s basketball team struggled to find its rhythm against the Panthers of Northern Iowa on Sunday evening, who defeated the Redbirds in a 72-59 decision in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Although the Redbirds faced the loss as a team, Zach Lofton of Illinois State walked away from the court Sunday night having scored a career-high 24 points during the game.
Another top scorer for the Redbirds was Reggie Lynch, who contributed 10 points to ISU’s offensive campaign.
Northern Iowa (14-14, 8-8 MVC) stormed onto the court with a 10-0 run to take the lead, eventually reaching a 40-24 advantage over the Redbirds before heading into the locker room.
First on the board, Northern Iowa sank a pair of free throws less than two minutes into the contest.
First to score for ISU was Lynch with a layup, followed closely by a Lofton three-pointer.
Panther Seth Tuttle was among the players responsible for the early lead, scoring 18 points, on 6-of-10 shooting.
Tuttle, who went six-for-six at the free throw line, also worked for the Panther’s offensive campaign, pulling down nine rebounds.
ISU (15-13, 8-8 MVC) came back onto the court after halftime and managed to outscore the Panthers 35-32.
ISU kept the scoring percentage of the Panthers hovering around 41 percent during the second half, while continuing to increase their own from 37.5 percent to 44.4 percent.
Unfortunately for the Redbirds, the heightened offensive performance was not enough to close the 16-point gap left at halftime.
Matt Bohannon of Northen Iowa contributed 14 points to the Panther’s lead.
Aiding in the Redbirds’ efforts to keep the Panthers down were Lynch and Bobby Hunter, pulling down 10 and seven rebounds, respectively.
Despite the efforts of the Redbirds, Northern Iowa remained firmly in the lead throughout the contest, not once giving up the lead or allowing a tie.
This win comes as sweet revenge for the Northern Iowa Panthers, as they lost to the Redbirds in a game played on February 8.
Northern Iowa has now moved back into a third-place tie thanks to this win.
The Redbirds bring the action back to Normal on Wednesday, when they face off against Indiana State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.