Redbirds Win World Vision Invitational Opener Over Nicholls, 75-65
Nov. 28, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Junior guard Osiris Eldridge racked up a season-high 24 points and four three-pointers to lead the Illinois State men's basketball team (5-0) to a 75-65 victory over Nicholls (1-2) Friday night in the first game of the World Vision Invitational on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Illinois State started the season 5-0 for the first time since the 1982-83 season, when it won its first six games.
Eldridge's 24 points scored marked his 12th-straight double-digit scoring game, dating back to last season, and the 47th time overall in his career.
Three other Redbirds landed in double-figures in scoring. Champ Oguchi recorded 18 points and a season-high-tying six free throws, while Lloyd Phillips scored a career-high-tying 15 points and Emmanuel Holloway added 10 points.
Nicholls was led in scoring by Ryan Bathie and Fred Hunter, who scored 17 and 15 points, respectively. As a team, the Colonels shot 57.4 percent from the field, which marked a season-high for an Illinois State opponent.
On a night when Dr. Lee Walden, "The Three-Point Doctor" was in the arena to excite the crowd at halftime with his ability to consistently make three-pointers, both Illinois State and Nicholls utilized the three-pointer to their advantage. The Redbirds made 10 treys in the game for 30 of their 75 points scored, while Nicholls chipped in seven made three-point baskets.
Illinois State began its 2008-09 home season with a quick offensive burst, as the Redbirds went into the first media timeout of the first half (15:32) with a 7-0 lead off a three-pointer by Eldridge that came on the heels of his steal and slam dunk in the first minute of the game.
Nicholls fired back coming out of the timeout, as the Colonels rattled off nine points in a two-minute stretch to cut the Redbird lead to 12-9. Nicholls temporarily tied the game on a three-pointer at the top of the key from Bathie, and following a made free throw by Illinois State, the Colonels took their first lead (14-13) of the game on a jump shot in the lane at the 9:42 mark.
Coming out of the second media timeout, Illinois State was forced to call a quick timeout after Nicholls scored five points in a 30-second stretch, thanks in part to a three-pointer by Kyle Ford, as the Colonels went up, 24-20.
A three-pointer by Oguchi at the 2:15 mark in the first half put ISU up by seven points at 36-29, but then Nicholls fired back with a traditional three-point play by Chris Page and a three-pointer from the right corner by Ford, as halftime hit with ISU leading, 40-35.
An impressive 10-0 scoring run by Eldridge accounted for the majority of Illinois State's scoring through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Eldridge recorded two three-pointers and a pair of jump shots during that period to keep the Redbirds ahead of the Colonels, 53-52.
After Nicholls rallied back following a 59-56 ISU lead to tie the game at 59-59, the Redbirds powered past the Colonels' defense and produced an 8-0 run on three-pointers by Holloway and Phillips to take a 67-59 lead. Illinois State sealed the victory on a pair of jumpers by Oguchi and Eldridge with less than a minute left that gave the Redbirds their 75-65 win.
Illinois State will return to action at 6 p.m. Saturday when it plays host to Winston-Salem State in day two of the World Vision Invitational from Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.