Redbirds Fall To No. 4 Ranked Shockers, 70-55
Zach Lofton
Zach Lofton

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Jan. 22, 2014

NORMAL, Ill. - A loud and raucous crowd of 9,510 fans at Redbird Arena watched Illinois State take a three-point lead into halftime against No. 4 Wichita State Wednesday night, but a dominant second-half effort by the undefeated Shockers (20-0, 7-0 MVC) downed the Redbirds (11-8, 4-3 MVC) by a final score of 70-55 on Doug Collins Court.

Illinois State struggled from three-point range all night, finishing just 1-for-25 from behind the arc, and the Shockers out-scored the Redbirds in the second half 45-27. Daishon Knight led the way for the Redbirds with 12 points and Bobby Hunter was the only other ISU player in double figures with 10 points. Cleanthony Early led the way for the Shockers with a game-high 23 points to lead a trio of WSU players in double figures.

Illinois State jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, as Paris Lee and Zach Lofton each scored layups off of Wichita State turnovers. Fred Van Vleet momentarily silenced the loud ISU crowd with a three-pointer from the top of the key, but a jumper by Hunter put the Redbirds back up 6-3 just over two and a half minutes in to the game.

The Shockers would later tie the game at 8-8, after Early connected from behind the arc in the corner with 15:06 left in the first half. The Redbirds would get the lead back quickly at 12-8, thanks to four-straight points from Tony Wills on a layup and pair of free throws a minute later. That lead would grow to six points, after Hunter forced a steal and took the ball the other way for a fast break layup.

Wichita State cut the lead back to three points at 14-11, when Early connected on his second three-pointer of the game just before the second media timeout of the half. The Redbirds would extend the lead back out to five points at 20-15 after a layup by Lofton, but a jumper by Ron Baker and Early's third three-pointer of the half cut the ISU lead back to three points at 23-20 with 4:24 left in the half.

The Shockers would then tie the game for the second time, this time at 23-23 after Tekele Cotton connected from three-point range with just over three minutes left on the clock in the first half. Wichita State eventually took its first lead of the game, when Darius Carter scored on a layup to make the score 25-24. A jumper from Lofton with 41 seconds left in the half gave ISU the lead back at 26-25, and he would go on to block a shot by Baker in the lane that could have given the Shockers the lead with four seconds left.

ISU called time out to set up a play, and it was executed to perfection as the long inbounds pass was taken by Reggie Lynch at the free throw line. He then dropped a bounce pass to a streaking Hunter who scored on the fast break layup as the buzzer sounded to send the Redbirds into the half with a three-point lead at 28-25.

Wichita State came out of the locker room on a 10-1 run to take the lead back for good. The final three points came via a three-pointer from the corner by Baker, which forced ISU head coach Dan Muller to call a time out four minutes into the half. A three-point play by Van Vleet extended the lead to 41-33 and two points from the free throw line by Baker after a flagrant foul by Wills extended the WSU lead to double digits at 43-33 with 13:36 left in the game. WSU took a 14-point lead at 50-36 following a three-pointer by Baker with 10:29 left, but Kaza Keane scored on a layup seconds later to cut the lead back to 50-38.

A dunk by Cotton grew the lead to 60-42 with 5:40 left in the game, before a 9-0 run by the Redbirds cut the Shocker lead to 60-49, thanks to four free throws from Knight and a three-point play by John Jones. However, the Shockers answered with a 5-0 run and put the game away.

The Redbirds will begin a two-game road streak, when they play Saturday at Indiana State. Tipoff is set for 5:05 p.m., CT from the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Ind.

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