|Redbirds fall to Bulldogs in 82-77 decision|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 13 January 2013 18:13|
At the start of Saturday’s men’s basketball game at Redbird Arena, both Illinois State and Drake were on the hunt for their first Missouri Valley Conference victory after a four-game Valley losing streak on both sides.
Though leading 41-32 at halftime, the Redbirds were ultimately defeated by the Bulldogs after a 25-6 run allowed Drake to take control of the game.
“Our intensity in the second half dropped quite a bit,” ISU head coach Dan Muller said. “We missed a lot of baskets that were good shots, and that along with our … defensive intensity not sustaining really did us in. I’m very disappointed for our players — not in them, for them.”
Sophomore guard Johnny Hill led the way for the Redbirds in their offensive effort, scoring a career-high of 24 points — all of which were accumulated in the second half. Hill added a career-best of nine rebounds to front ISU as well.
“[Hill] gave us a chance to win, or to come back, because of his intensity and making his free throws,” Muller said. “Johnny cares a lot, he wants to win, he’s a competitor, he’s trying to lead, he’s guarding the best player a lot of times … Johnny’s playing pretty well recently, but overall it’s a team game.”
Junior Bryant Allen followed Hill in the scoring sector, finishing with 22 points, including a 5-of-9 effort beyond the arc. Jackie Carmichael finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, boosting him to his third-straight double-double and sixth of the sort in the last seven games overall.
After tying the score at 7-7 in the first four minutes of the game, ISU went on a 6-0 run to take the 13-7 lead at the first media timeout with help from Carmichael and John Wilkins.
ISU would extend its lead to 22-12 with 10:56 left in the first half with help from Allen, Kaza Keane and Jon Ekey, including a three-pointer from Allen.
But the Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run to cut the Redbird lead to 26-25 with just under six minutes left in the half before Allen shot his third trey of the night to extend the ISU lead back to four points.
The Redbirds finished out the half on a 5-0 run after a Carmichael layup and a shot-beyond-the-arc from Wilkins put ISU ahead 41-32 at halftime.
The Bulldogs fired up a comeback at the start of the second half, using a 12-3 run to tie the game at 44-44 with 16:42 left in the game. Drake then took its first lead since early in the first half, and continued to widen it with the help of two three-pointers.
Both teams continued to score in a teeter-tottering fashion, but ISU would not get the lead back for the duration of the game, despite getting within five points, 77-73, with 37 seconds left in the game.
The Bulldogs ultimately held on for the 82-77 victory.
“We play from behind too much,” Hill said. “We got up in the first half, then in the second half we came out lackadaisical … and you can’t do that. This is one of the best conferences in my opinion — in a lot of people’s opinion — in the whole country, so you can’t do this against these guys.
“We’re a better team than we have been displaying. Once we put that together for a full 40 minutes, that’s when we’re going to be great.
“At this point, we’re in the situation we’re in and we’re going to fight,” Muller said. “We’re going to stay together, we’re going to be men about it and we’re going to do our jobs. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves because that’s not what you do in tough times. We’re going to work harder, we’re going to stay together and we’re going to figure it out.”
Despite having a rest from academic responsibilities over winter break, the Redbirds continued checking games off of their schedule, notching wins against Morgan State (87-68), Dayton (74-73) and Austin Peay (83-57), but losing to Indiana State (77-75), Creighton (79-72), Northern Iowa (70-60) and Missouri State (62-55).
The Redbirds will head to Wichita, Kan. on Wednesday, Jan. 16 for a two-game road bout against nationally-ranked Wichita State. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Koch Arena.