Evansville Runs Sink Redbirds, 79-71
Jan. 21, 2012
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Evansville used first-half runs of 15-2 and 15-5 to build a 15-point halftime lead and held off a late Illinois State rally in a 79-71 Missouri Valley Conference victory over the Redbirds Saturday night at the Ford Center.
The loss dropped the Redbirds to 12-8 on the season and 4-5 in league play, while Evansville improved to 10-9 and 5-4, respectively, to bump Illinois State out of a tie for fourth place.
After making the first basket of the game, Illinois State led again,12-10, with 13:44 left in the half. Evansville made the first run of the game with a 15-2 spurt to take a 25-14 advantage. The Redbirds cut into the lead, 27-22, with an 8-2 run thanks to four points by Nic Moore. The freshman led the Redbirds in scoring with 17 points. Junior Tyler Brown also added 14 points for Illinois State, marking his seventh double-digit scoring game in the last eight.
Evansville closed out the first half with a 15-5 run, including six points from Colt Ryan and five by Denver Holmes. As a result, the Purple Aces led 42-27 at the break. Evansville's 42 points were the most Illinois State has allowed in the first half all season. Ryan finished with a game-high 20 points and led five Evansville players in double-digit scoring.
The Purple Aces opened the second half on an 8-2 run and built a 50-29 lead. Trailing 55-32, Illinois State countered with an 8-0 spurt to cut the deficit, 55-40. The Redbirds continued to mount a comeback and Moore's three-point field goal at the 8:58 mark, closed the Evansville lead, 63-51.
Illinois State got to within eight points twice down the stretch, but was unable to get any closer. Evansville's Ned Cox finished with 16 points and Holmes and Kenny Harris each scored 14 points apiece. Troy Taylor tossed in 11 points for the Purple Aces.
Illinois State will have a pair of home games next week, as the Redbirds host Missouri State Wednesday night for a 6:05 p.m. tip, before playing Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m.
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