Coach Dan Muller's Redbirds dropped to 3-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference with the loss. (WJBC File Photo)
By WJBC Staff
PEORIA - After leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, eight at halftime and seven in the second half, the Illinois State men’s basketball team (12-10, 3-7 MVC) fell to in-state rival Bradley (13-9, 5-5 MVC) for the first time in the last eight meetings, 83-77, Tuesday evening at Carver Arena.
The Redbirds surrendered points on 14 Bradley’s final 15 possessions and were held without a field goal for over five minutes down the stretch. Despite tying a season-high with 13-made three pointers, turnovers hindered the Redbirds throughout the contest. ISU committed a season-high 23 in the loss, with Bradley scoring 27 points off of the miscues.
Jackie Carmichael and John Wilkins each scored 16 points to lead ISU, a season-high for Wilkins. Tyler Brown (13) and Jon Ekey (11) both also scored in double figures. Bradley’s Walt Lemon Jr., scored a career-high 27 points to lead the way for the victorious Braves.
After Bradley took its first lead of the game, 43-42, at the 15:27 mark of the second half, Illinois State seemed to regain control. A pair of three-pointers from Nick Zeisloft and Ekey helped extend the lead to seven, at 59-52, with 7:56 left. However, with ISU up 63-58 at the 5:08 mark, the Braves ripped off a 9-0 run in just 1:13 to take a 67-63 lead at the 3:48 mark. Three-straight Redbird turnovers aided the run, from which ISU could not recover.
After a back-and-forth start that saw each team go on a 5-0 run in the game’s first four minutes, the Redbirds grabbed early control of the game with an 18-2 spurt through the middle part of the opening half. Wilkins, Zeisloft and Ekey each hit three pointers early in the run to give ISU a 19-9 lead at the 12:08 mark of the first half. Zeisloft’s three began a stretch of 12-straight ISU points, during which the Redbird defense held Bradley scoreless for 5:27. A one-handed alley oop dunk by Carmichael on a feed from Johnny Hill capped the run and gave the Redbirds a 25-9 lead with 9:02 left in the first half.
The Braves responded, however, cutting the ISU lead from 16 to seven in less than four minutes. Will Egolf’s and-one on a putback dunk brought the Braves within seven, at 27-20, with 5:35 left in the first half. After Carmichael put the Redbird lead back into double-digits with a dunk and ensuing free throw, Lemon Jr., scored four-straight points to make it 30-24. Wilkins hit a three on the following possession, the last field goal of the half for either team, as ISU went into the break with a 36-28 lead.
Bradley opened the second half on an 11-3 run to tie the game at 39 on a three-point play from Tyshon Pickett with 17:04 left. Brown responded with his first points of the game on a three from the left corner to put ISU back on top momentarily, before four-straight BU points resulted in ISU’s first deficit of the night, 43-42, with 15:42 left. The BU lead was short-lived, as Allen, Wilkins and Allen again hit treys on back-to-back-to-back possessions to put ISU back on top, 51-45, with 13:31 remaining. However, the Redbirds could not hold on to the advantage.
ISU returns to Doug Collins Court for its next game, Saturday, Feb. 2 against Southern Illinois. It will be Retro Night at Redbird Arena, with the team sporting throw-back jerseys. Tip off is set for 3:05 p.m. with Redbird Preview getting underway at 2 p.m. on WJBC AM 1230 and FM 93.7.