|Redbirds ‘sloppy’ down the stretch but hold on for win|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 07 December 2011 23:43|
It is often said, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
And after handing UNC-Wilmington its first win of the season Dec. 3, the ISU men’s basketball team was in a tough spot.
Likewise, when the Redbirds were about to face yet another tough spot during the final stretch of their game against Morehead State Wednesday evening when the Eagles were on a comeback. However, ISU got going and held onto its lead to seal a victory when they outfought the Eagles, 78–73, in Morehead, Ky.
“All-in-all I’m really proud, it was a really good effort, we kept our poise, that’s probably our best case scenario in a game like that, to fight off the ropes, it was a good win,” ISU head coach Tim Jankovich said on WJBC radio after the game.
“Our zone offense was hitting about anything we wanted, it was just a matter of if we were going to make the shot. I thought we executed tremendously, completely opposite to how we executed our last game [against UNC–Wilmington], so I’m really proud of that,” he added.
Down the stretch, Morehead State (4–6) hit the acceleration peddle coming within six points of the Redbirds (6–3) at Johnson Arena.
“We played a great 32 minutes [to start the game], we controlled the game and just kept extending our lead, and then got really sloppy a couple possessions … then all of a sudden it was a six point swing,” Jankovich said.
And with 1:19 left in the second half, the Eagles sank a three-pointer to bring the score within three, 73–70.
After ISU guard Nic Moore was sent to the line, making 1-of-2 to draw the ’Birds’ lead to four, the Eagles had their chance to respond as Marsell Holden was sent to the free throw line. He made both baskets and brought his team within two of the Redbirds, 74–72, with 30 seconds remaining in the game.
But after Jon Ekey completed both free throws, extending the lead to 76–72, Morehead State was unable to make a run at anything, sending the Redbirds to the line one more time when Moore hit both free throws, helping ISU to earn its sixth win of the season.
“We knew going in that the really difficult parts about playing [Morehead State] is they love to switch between being conventionally big to four guards … and that can be a real challenge, and that’s exactly what happened down the stretch,” Jankovich said.
While the second half was a close-fought battle, the first half was equally even as the game jumped to a tie at 10–10. ISU, however, leapt ahead with a 7–0 run to dray its lead to 17–10.
The Redbirds pushed the lead a majority of the first half while the Eagles remained relatively close, and despite MSU’s Holden burying a three-pointer right before the halftime buzzer, the ’Birds were able to hold onto the lead heading into the locker room, 34–26.
Jackie Carmichael and Ekey led the ’Birds with 17 points apiece, as Carmichael also added 10 rebounds to notch his eighth-career double-double. Tyler Brown added 13 points, while Moore and Wilkins each contributed 10, respectively.
“Having five guys in double digits is wonderful; anytime that happens, you have good offensive flow,” Jankovich said.
The Redbirds will have 11 days off before hosting Norfolk State at Redbird Arena Dec. 18.