By Greg Halbleib
NORMAL – Illinois State men’s basketball jumped out to a quick start but then went toe to toe before defeating Evansville 75-71 on Saturday afternoon at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds led by as much as 13 midway through the first half but the Purple Aces closed the gap to 34-33 at the intermission. Evansville (15-10, 5-7 Missouri Valley) took a brief three-point lead early in the second half but the Redbirds quickly countered.
Evansville’s Ryan Taylor drilled a three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to close to 73-71, but Redbird free throws from Taylor Bruninga and Matt Hein sealed the victory.
Taylor led the Aces with 32 points. The Redbirds received 13 points each from Hein, Phil Fayne and Milik Yarbrough.
Illinois State (13-11, 7-5) returns to action on Thursday for an 8 p.m. tip against Southern Illinois at on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
PODCAST: Listen here to the postgame interview with Redbird coach Dan Muller and center Daouda N’daiye.
Greg Halbleib can be reached at email@example.com.