|Redbirds grab come-from-behind MVC win|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 06 February 2013 23:19|
Throughout the course of this season, the Illinois State men’s basketball team has struggled to put together two winning halves, as it has commonly displayed first-half victories and second-half defeats.
But in Wednesday night’s game against the Drake Bulldogs, that precedential outcome was reversed as the Redbirds trailed throughout, only to take the lead with under a minute left and grab the 94-86, come-from-behind Missouri Valley Conference victory in Des Moines, Iowa at the Knapp Center.
With the win, ISU improved its record to 14-10 overall and a 5-7 mark in the MVC.
The Redbirds took their first lead of the game with just under two minutes to go on a Jon Ekey three, which would put ISU in the lead for the remainder of the game. With just 20 seconds left in the contest, Bryant Allen added on a layup to put ISU up by seven.
“[This win is] huge. It just kind of shows how much we’ve been growing over the past couple of weeks. We’ve come a long way,” Ekey told WJBC radio.
Tyler Brown headed the Redbirds on offense with 25 points and a career-best nine assists while also tallying four steals. Jackie Carmichael followed with 23 points, while John Wilkins contributed a season-best 18 points. Allen also contributed double-digit figures with 12 points, including a 2-for-3-effort beyond the arc.
The Redbirds went without the advantage through the course of the whole first period, with Drake leading by as much as 17 points heading into the locker rooms. Throughout the half, the Bulldogs outscored ISU 29-17 over the course of 10 minutes to grab the 42-25 lead with just less than six minutes left until the break.
But the Redbirds came back on a 13-3 run over the course of the next three minutes with the help of Brown and Johnny Hill, who scored four points apiece during the stretch, to get within seven, 45-38, with 2:30 left in the first period.
But ISU’s first-half effort was not enough to suppress the Bulldogs offensively, as they would grab their biggest lead of the half at the buzzer, 51-40.
“There was a lot of loud words being said in the locker room,” Ekey said. “We’ve been working on defense for the past two weeks, that was [an emphasis for us] coming into the game was don’t let them shoot threes … It wasn’t really a good start for us, but we got settled down in the locker, I’d say, and we really took it to heart for us to stop them.”
To open the second half, the Redbirds decreased their deficit to just six points, 59-53, in the first three and a half minutes of the period. But Drake would follow up with another double-digit lead.
In response, Brown nailed a three to bring ISU back within single-digits, 79-71, before going on its 23-7 scoring campaign that would eventually give ISU the lead and thus, the MVC victory.
“Coach was saying how we’re going to outlast them, we’re going to keep running them down, we’re going to be tougher than them, and I think it showed there towards the end,” Ekey said.
The Redbirds will continue their MVC campaign on the road as they travel to Creighton on Saturday for a game scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
“This is huge for us,” Ekey said. “We’ll enjoy this one on the flight back, but coach always says … ‘This one’s over with … so it’s on to the next one.’ We know the next one is going to be huge and it will be a tough road game again, but this one … will feel good and build our confidence for the next one.”