The Indiana State Sycamores (9-6, 2-2 MVC) defeated the Illinois State Redbirds (6-10, 1-3 MVC) 65-52 on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind.
Indiana State’s junior guard Tyreke Key led the Sycamores with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting. He also played 36 of the possible 40 minutes.
Freshman guard DJ Horne led the Redbirds with 18 points on 7 of 13 from the field and 4 of 6 from three.
The Trees outscored the ‘Birds 29-21 in the first half. Both teams shot poorly, with Indiana State at 11 of 31 and Illinois State at 8 of 26. Both teams shot 3 of 10 from 3. The Sycamores made 2 more free throws and led for 19 minutes and 45 seconds.
Illinois State started poorly and quickly fell behind 8-0. Horne scored 9 points, but the rest of the team struggled. Freshman guard Antonio Reeves scored the only layup of the half for the ‘Birds. Illinois State’s bench outscored the Sycamores bench 9-2.
Indiana State struggled too, but it had a much easier time generating opportunities. The team came up with 5 layups and capitalized off Redbird turnovers. Winning the turnover differential 5-10 allowed the Trees to overcome the small rebound disadvantage.
The Sycamores’ offense came alive in the second half with a 50% (14-28) shooting performance. The team also made 5 of 12 threes.
The final half yielded much of the same for the ‘Birds. They shot 10 of 32 and 4 of 16 from three.
Horne made a three to start the half. The Sycamores went on a 16-6 run and with 12 minutes left in the game the score was 30-45. Every time the ‘Birds tried to rally, Indiana State answered with points of their own.
The Sycamores won the second half 36-31 and won the game 65-52. Indiana State led in rebounds (44-39) and made more three-pointers.
The difference in this game was shot-making. Redbirds not named DJ Horne went 11 of 45 from the field and 3 of 20 from three.
79 minutes came off the bench for Illinois State in this game, with Redshirt sophomore Taylor Bruninga (16 minutes) and senior guard Zach Copeland (27 minutes) playing more minutes than two starters.
This win moves the Sycamores up to fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. They trail Northern Iowa by four games. Illinois State has the worst record in the conference.
The ‘Birds will look to rebound against conference-rival Drake (12-4, 2-1 MVC). ISU won the series last year 2-1, with Drake winning the last game 78-62. That game is set for Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.