Freshman standout Reggie Lynch had a stand out performance in what was dubbed senior night at Redbird Arena, setting career-highs in points, rebounds and blocks in the ISU men’s basketball team’s final home game of the season Wednesday night.
The ’Birds built as much as a 20-point-first-half lead and never relinquished it en route to the 77-59 victory over Missouri Valley Rival Indiana State.
“It was a fun game, really good performances by a lot of my guys,” ISU head coach Dan Muller said. “Reggie was obviously dominant on both ends. A lot of guys played well offensively against a very good team. It was a pretty fun way to end our home schedule.”
Daishon Knight paced the Redbirds’ offensive effort with a game-high 20 points. Lynch recorded 16 points, five blocks and eight rebounds, while Zach Lofton tallied 16 points in the victory.
“I’m really proud of my team, I’m really proud of their attitude and their effort over the season. We have guys that got better; we have guys that like each other and stayed together and found ways to win,” Muller said.
Both teams scored on their first possessions of the game and combined to make their first seven baskets. Nick Zeisloft set the tone, putting the ’Birds on the board first with a 3-pointer, initiating the first of six consecutive buckets.
With ISU in the lead at 17-10, Lofton made three-straight baskets, including a shot well beyond-the-arc. Illinois State made five of its first 3-point attempts to lead 25-12 at the 11:18 mark. During the shooting spurt, the Redbirds held the Sycamores without a field goal for over four minutes.
At halftime, the Redbirds held the advantage at 42-26.
In the first 12 minutes of the second half, Illinois State continued to grow its lead to as much as 21 points, 58-37, before the Sycamores powered through a run to get within 61-49 with 7:21 to play.
The Sycamores cut their deficit to 12 points twice, but Illinois State held on for the victory.
“I thought we were laxed when they cut it to 12,” Muller said. “They hit some easy, uncontested buckets, but Daishon made free throws [and] we extended it after that. Our defense and our ball handling and our offense were really good.”
The Redbirds will conclude their regular season Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. in Carbondale.