UNI's Threes Sink Illinois State, 53-51
Feb. 2, 2011
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - It was a game of runs Wednesday night at the McLeod Center between Illinois State and Northern Iowa, but it came down to free throws down the stretch, as the Panthers sank 5-of-6 in the final 33 seconds to secure a 53-51 win over the Redbirds. The win was the eighth-straight by UNI and it snapped ISU's three-game winning streak.
Illinois State fell to 11-12 on the season and 3-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while UNI improved to 18-6 and 9-3, respectively. The Redbirds were led by Anthony Cousin, who finished with 15 points. Trey Blue joined Cousin in double-figures and added 13 tallies, while Jackie Carmichael chipped in 10 rebounds and four points.
Anthony James led the way for UNI with 18 points and 10 rebounds, as the only Panther in double-figures. UNI finished with nine made threes on 25 attempts.
For the first time in several games, Illinois State came out of the gate scoring. The Redbirds used a 9-0 run, including four points by Cousin, to build an 11-5 lead at the 13:34 mark. During the Redbird run, ISU held Northern Iowa scoreless for over six minutes. UNI's Johnny Moran sank his second three of the first half at the 7:34 mark and cut into the Illinois State lead, 16-14.
The Panthers ended the half with an 11-0 run, which included five points from the free throw line and threes by Marc Sonnen and Anthony James, to take a 26-20 lead at the half.
UNI continued its hot three-point shooting to open the second half, as threes by Moran and James put the Panthers up 32-22 with 18:11 remaining. The Redbirds used an 11-0 run of their own with treys by Jon Ekey, John Wilkins and Cousin to regain the lead, 33-32, with 13:25 left in the game.
UNI bounced right back with five-straight tallies and took a 37-33 lead and 12:01 on the clock. The Redbirds forced another tie, 38-38, but again the Panthers scored eight-straight points to take a 46-38 lead with eight minutes left. Illinois State used a 9-2 run to get back into the game and trailed, 48-47, with 2:10 remaining when UNI's Jake Koch and ISU's Wilkins were whistled for a double foul. The foul was the first for Wilkins, but Koch's fifth.
The Panthers added to the lead, 50-47, on James' two free throws with 32.8 seconds left, giving James seven-straight points for UNI. ISU's Austin Hill countered with a layup drive at the 20.1 second mark and the Redbirds trailed 50-49. Kwadzo Ahelegbe converted a pair of free throws with 17.1 seconds left, but the three-point lead was short-live when Cousin drove for a score with 11.4 left.
Ahelegbe added another free throw to push the lead to 53-51, but missed his second shot with 6.5 seconds left. The rebound bounced around before Carmichael was able to gain possession. The Redbirds pushed the ball up the floor, but Cousin lost the handle just past the halfcourt line as time expired.
The Redbirds will end their two-game road swing Saturday at Wichita State, when Illinois State faces the Shockers at 7:05 p.m.
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