Redbirds fall in MVC Championship game, await NIT invitation

Illinois State’s offensive struggles forced the Redbirds to fall in the Missouri Valley Championship game for the second year in a row. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)

By ISU Sports Information

ST. LOUIS – Led by 12 points from Illinois State’s two members of the MVC All-Tournament Team – Phil Fayneand Milik Yarbrough – the Redbirds fell in the 2018 MVC Tournament Championship game to the Loyola Ramblers by a 65-49 final score.

How It Happened

Loyola jumped out first in the game before a running lay-in from Keyshawn Evans knotted the score at two apiece. The Ramblers answered with seven straight points to take a 9-2 lead, and the tournament top seed never let go of its lead for the remainder of the contest. The Redbirds twice cut the deficit to one, the first on an Isaac Gassman lay-in, and again on the second of two Fayne free throws to take the score to 20-18 with 7:09 to play in the first half. Loyola answered with its second 7-0 run of the half, pushing ahead to a nine-point, 36-27 halftime advantage.

William Tinsley struck first out of the gate in the second half with a three-pointer to cut the gap to six; however, Loyola ran off eight straight points to push the margin to double-digits, and Illinois State could not respond, falling 65-49.

Key Moment

Fayne’s two made free throws with 7:09 to play in the first half cut the gap to two, the closest Illinois State would get the rest of the way in the game.

Inside the Box Score

  • Fayne had a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double, his ninth of the season and second of the tournament, en route to earning All-Tournament team honors. Fayne also picked up a game-high three steals in the loss.
  • Yarbrough scored 12 points to go with five assists and four rebounds, and was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
  • Tinsley scored eight points while pulling down 10 rebounds, making 2-of-6 shots from long range while blocking two shots.
  • Gassman hit two three-pointers and scored eight points overall for the Redbirds

Stat of the Game

6: Illinois State committed just six turnovers, tied for the fewest in a game this season (the other was the home game against Missouri State on January 7)

What’s Next

Illinois State waits to see what its future holds, as the NCAA and NIT brackets will be released on Sunday, March 11.

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