Illinois State Falls Short Against Illinois, 63-59
Jon Ekey

Jon Ekey

Nov. 24, 2011

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CANCUN, Mexico - Junior Tyler Brown's potential game-tying, three-point field goal attempt with 1.3 seconds left in regulation fell short, as Illinois State fell 63-59 to Illinois in the championship game of the 2011 Cancun Challenge at the Galactic Ballroom in the Moon Palace Resort Wednesday night.

With the loss, Illinois State fell to 3-2 on the season, while Illinois improved to 5-0. ISU's Jon Ekey and John Wilkins were each named to the all-tournament team. Ekey finished the night with 14 points and six rebounds, while Wilkins added 10 points and seven boards.

Illinois State jumped out to a 10-3 lead, thanks to four points by Jackie Carmichael, but the advantage was short-lived. Illinois responded with a 20-3 run to take a 23-13 lead, while Carmichael was whistled for a pair of personal fouls and watched the rest of the half from the bench.

To change momentum, the Redbirds dropped into a zone defensively and were able to claw back, 27-22, thanks to a 9-4 ISU run. As part of the ISU offensive surge, Ekey fired in nine-straight Redbird points and finished the first half with 12 points. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the frame, until Illinois' Joseph Bertrand dropped a floater in the middle of the lane with four seconds left to push the Illini lead to 34-27 at the half.

ISU opened the second half on a 17-3 run, with six points from Carmichael, and took a 44-37 lead with 16:12 remaining. The Redbirds remained in control until Illinois followed with a 13-3 run, giving the Illini a 50-47 edge with 7:10 left in the game. With the game tied, 56-56, Illinois' Sam Maniscalco drained a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Illini a 59-56 lead.

Brown appeared to tie the game seconds later with a three-pointer of his own, but the junior college transfer stepped out of bounds. Maniscalco added a basket to put the Illini up, 61-56. On the following possession, ISU's Zeke Upshaw drained a three-pointer from the left corner to close the deficit, 61-59. Brown stole the Illinois' inbounds pass, but his three-point try from the top of the key fell short. Illinois' Brandon Paul added a pair of free throws for the final score, 63-59.

Carmichael led the Redbirds with 17 points, as Illinois State fell to 0-8 all-time against Illinois. Maniscalco led four Illinois players in double-digits with 14.