Second-Half Surge Sends Redbirds Past Northern Iowa, 76-65
Jamaal Samuel scored a career-best 10 points.
Jamaal Samuel scored a career-best 10 points.

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Feb. 5 2014

NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State (13-10, 6-5 Missouri Valley Conference) used a 17-2 second-half run to surge past Northern Iowa (11-12, 5-6 Missouri Valley Conference), 76-65, Wednesday evening at Doug Collins Court, as Illinois State improved to 9-3 at home.

Illinois State capitalized on Panther mistakes, picking up 30 points off of 16 UNI turnovers. Four Redbirds scored in double figures, with Bobby Hunter and Daishon Knight pacing the Redbird offense at 17 and 15 points, respectively.

Matt Bohannan led the way for the Panthers, leading all scorers with 19, while Seth Tuttle added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Back-to-back three-point baskets from Paris Lee and Hunter put the Redbirds up an early six points, but eight-straight points from Tuttle would aid in a 16-2 run from the Panthers. A Jamaal Samuel layup would silence the run, making the score 16-10.

At the 10:05 mark, Bohannan picked up the Panthers fourth three-pointer, as Northern Iowa went 6-of-9 from behind the arc in the opening half. After Lee missed a three-point shot with 6:32 to play in the half, the freshman guard grabbed his own rebound, dishing the ball out to Hunter for a basket behind-the arc.

A pair of free-throws from Tuttle put the Panthers up 26-22, but Zach Lofton answered with a three-point make of his own. At the four minute mark, Northern Iowa notched five quick points, including its fifth three-pointer of the game, but in the final seconds of the game, Samuel knocked in a bucket, shrinking the Panther lead making the score 31-34. The New Orleans, La., native concluded the half with eight points and finishing the game with a career-best 10 points.

In the opening minute of the second-half, Hunter capitalized on steal, converting a Panther turnover into a quick two points.  UNI did not back down, as it answered the Redbirds with a Tuttle layup and a three-pointer from Bohannan off an ISU turnover, extending its lead to 39-33. 

At 15:37, Knight picked up a pair of free throws, followed by a fast-break layup to tie the game at 39. Lofton added a jumper to give the Redbirds their first lead game since the 15:34 mark of the first-half, but UNI answered right away with a quick layup from Jeremy Morgan.

At 12:53 a Panther turnover sparked a Knight dunk, igniting the crowd and giving the Redbirds a 45-41 lead. Knight converted on another UNI turnover with a shot behind-the-arc to give ISU a nine-point lead.

The Redbirds were 8-of-13 in the first 10 minutes (60-percent) of the second half, until a missed three-point attempt from Nick Zeisloft, but the LaGrange, Ill., native would not be rattled as he knocked down the very next shot from behind-the-arc.

With just under six minutes to play, Lofton converted a three-point play, giving the Redbirds a 58-52 lead, but Northern Iowa would not quit, as Bohannan hit a quick jumper to keep the Panthers within reach. A pair of free throws from Morgan at the four minute mark closed the gap 62-56, but it would not be enough for the Panthers. Hunter sealed the victory with the seventh Redbird three, and a pair of free throws from Tony Wills would give ISU an 11-point lead. Reggie Lynch scored his seventh point in the final minutes, after making a free throw to convert an old-fashioned three-point play. Northern Iowa answered with a quick layup, but it was not enough as the Redbirds claimed the victory, 76-65.

Illinois State is back in action Sunday, as the Redbirds travel to Loyola for a 3:05 p.m. tipoff. The game will be available on ESPN3.

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