The Illinois State men’s basketball season came to a halt last night in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) semifinals after Siena defended its home court in a 61-49 decision at Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. The ’Birds concluded their 2013-14 campaign with an 18-16 record.
“It’s been a long, hard season for these guys,” ISU head coach Dan Muller said on his postgame radio show. “The guys in the locker room, I love and am proud of them. I can’t wait to get back in the gym with them.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” he said. “I don’t want to schedule them (Siena) next year. They’re really good. They’re big and physical. They probably made four 3s at the end of shot clocks that were big.”
Despite the defeat, ISU standout freshman Reggie Lynch set the Missouri Valley Conference freshman single-blocks record, recording five blocks in the game to finish the year with 96 total.
Lynch’s record-setting block came at the 14:30 mark of the second half when he blocked Siena’s Brett Bisping. The record was previously held by Creighton’s Benoit Benjamin, which was set in 1982-83.
Lynch fronted the Redbirds offense with 15 points and recorded seven boards. Daishon Knight also finished with double figures, earning 11 points.
ISU never obtained a lead in the season-ending loss. Siena jumped out to an early 9-0 lead with three buckets from Bisping. Tony Wills accounted for ISU’s first basket on a layup at the 15:20 mark, which was followed by a Nick Zeisloft three-pointer to bring the ‘Birds within 12-9.to 20-11, Wills hit a trey followed by a Lynch free throw to pull the Redbirds with 26-19, but Siena took the lead heading into the locker rooms at 31-21.
ISU started out the second half with a Lynch offensive rebound which was turned into a layup, outscoring Siena 6-2 to pull within 34-27 at the 15:08 mark. ISU would then trim the Saints’ advantage to 42-35 on a 7-3 run with 7:51 to play.
A dunk by Lynch and an ally-oop from Paris Lee would bring ISU within 51-43 at the 4:23 mark, but Siena would regain the double-digit lead. ISU would pull with 58-48 on a Knight free throw with 53 seconds to go, but that was as close as the ’Birds got as Siena held on for the 61-49 victory.