Illinois State slides into second place in the Missouri Valley standings with win over SIU

Illinois State was led by freshman Elijah Clearance, who scored a career high 15 points in the win. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)

By ISU Sports Information

NORMAL, Ill. – Three players – Elijah Clarance, William Tinsley, and Daouda N’Diaye – each recorded new career-highs with 15, 14, and 13 points, each, as the Illinois State Redbirds used overtime to topple the Southern Illinois Salukis by a 76-68 final score on Thursday evening.

How It Happened

Southern Illinois scored the first seven points of the game – the Salukis’ largest margin in the contest. The Redbirds fought back, and followed with a 21-6 run to push ahead by eight, halfway through the opening 20 minutes of action. Illinois States’ margin reached as high as 9 in the half following a lay-in by Clarance, and led by seven with 3:22 to play in the period before SIU closed the opening half on a 7-2 run, with the Redbirds taking a 38-36 lead into the locker room at halftime.

 

The Redbirds increased their lead back to nine points with 12:19 to play after a pair of free throws from Clarance; however, the visitors chipped away at the Illinois State advantage, and eventually took a three-point, 59-56 lead with 4:48 to play in the game. The lead remained at three until Taylor Bruninga converted on an old-fashioned three-point play with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 64. The Redbirds forced a shot clock violation on Southern Illinois’ next possession, but could not get anything offensively on their try with 4.8 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.

In the fourth overtime game this season for Illinois State, the Redbirds never trailed, as the team got a free throw from N’Diaye with four minutes to play, and a three-pointer from Matt Hein 44 seconds later to stretch the lead to four at 68-64. A Saluki lay-in closed the gap back to as few as two; however, the hosts ran off four straight points on a free throw from Clarance and three free tries from Hein to push ahead by six, and two free throws late in the game from Clarance sealed the game’s 76-68 final score.

Key Moment

With 35 seconds left in regulation and trailing by three, Bruninga made a lay-in and made the ensuing free throw to tie the score and send the game to an extra period.
Inside the Box Score

  • The Illinois State bench out-scored Southern Illinois’ 38-9 in the game, with two players (Clarance and Tinsley) scoring in double-figures, and another (Bruninga) scored nine points.
  • Clarance scored a career-high 15 points, making 3-of-8 shots from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. He also set career-highs with four assists and four rebounds.
  • Tinsley made a career-high four three-point field goals (on seven tries) and 5-of-8 overall from the field for his career-high 14 points.
  • N’Diaye scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. He also pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots over 39 minutes of action.
  • Milik Yarbrough scored 11 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. He also dished out a team-high five assists with a steal.
  • Hein scored nine points on 2-of-5 shooting from long range with 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
  • Bruninga scored nine points, making 2-of-4 from long range, and 3-of-6 overall with three rebounds.
  • Illinois State out-rebounded Southern Illinois 46-to-31, as the +15 margin tied a season-high for the Redbirds.
  • With the win, Illinois State moves into a two-way tie for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

Stat of the Game

10: Illinois State has had 10 different players reach double-figures in a game this season. Only 14 programs across the country have more players that have scored in double-figures during the season.
What’s Next
Illinois State travels to Valparaiso, Indiana, to face off against the Crusaders on Sunday, February 11 in a 3 p.m. tip-off on ESPNU.

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