PEORIA — No love lost, no love found.
Bradley opened the game on a 7-0 run, while it took Illinois State nearly seven and a half minutes to score a point.
The Braves would go on to defeat the Redbirds, 70-58, at the Peoria Civic Center Wednesday night.
Bradley never trailed in their first victory over Illinois State in the last nine tries. The last Bradley victory was Jan. 29, 2014.
“I thought we played really hard. Bradley played outstanding, not surprisingly,” ISU coach Dan Muller said. “There’s a reason why they don’t lose much at home and that defense was outstanding.”
Bradley would lead by as many as 12 in the first half, thanks to a 6-0 run coming out of the under-eight minute media timeout.
All it took was a Koch Bar dunk and an Elijah Childs up and under lay-up for coach Dan Muller to call a timeout.
Keyshawn Evans, who was questionable with a knee injury, came off the bench and finally got Illinois State on the board.
Evans would hit two free throws, followed by a 3-pointer to give ISU its first five points of the game.
“It was frustrating just because we couldn’t make shots, but at the same time I knew we were competing on defense and playing well on defense,” Evans said of the early struggles.
Evans ended up playing 24 minutes off the bench after being limited in practice Monday and Tuesday, trying to “gut it out,” he said Wednesday night.
“I honestly wasn’t tired. I was ready to play however much [Muller] wanted me to,” Evans said. “I’m a little sore, but I mean I was expecting it, being off a week.”
At the half, the Redbirds were shooting just 27-percent from the field and had only made seven field goals, four of them being from 3-point range.
Illinois State was lucky to be down just 29-22 going into the locker rooms.
Bradley was winning in every statistical category, outside of the turnover battle.
The Braves had out-rebounded ISU 27-13, dominated the paint 24-4 and had 10 second chance points due the rebounding margin.
In the second half, Bradley led by as many as 17 down the stretch but ISU would not go away.
Illinois State would cut the Bradley lead to 10 after a Milik Yarbrough baseline jumper before a timeout was called on the floor.
Isaac Gassman scored on a put-back layup and a floater in the lane to cut BU’s lead to six.
Bradley’s Nate Kennell then hit the Braves’ biggest shot of the night, sinking a 3-pointer, breathing energy and life back into Bradley’s bench that had since been sucked out.
Brown added a 3-pointer, but Dante Thomas seemingly sealed the victory after a steal and slam with three and a half minutes to go.
Yarbrough led ISU with 25 points and Evans added 10 points in his return to the lineup.
Illinois State returns to the court at 5 p.m. Saturday when they host Northern Iowa.