Redbirds Pull Away in Second Half, Top Western Michigan, 85-63
Dec. 8, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - After surrendering second-half leads in their last three games, all losses, the Illinois State Redbirds (6-3) made sure it would not happen a fourth time, outscoring the Western Michigan Broncos (6-3), 43-28, in the second half of a 85-63 victory, Saturday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
Coming off a season-low five-point performance in the Redbirds' loss to Wyoming on Dec. 4, Jackie Carmichael responded with 24 points and seven rebounds, his second-best offensive output of the season. John Wilkins added a season-high 16 points off the bench, while Tyler Brown chipped in 13. Johnny Hill added a Redbird season-best 10 assists after making his second-career start.
ISU started the game scoreless on its first six possessions, going 0-for-5 shooting with one turnover. The slow start allowed the Broncos to jump out to an 8-0 lead before Hill got the Redbirds on the board at the 15:48 mark with a driving baseline layup. After another Bronco bucket, ISU went on a 9-2 run to pull within one. Carmichael scored four-straight points, with Jordan Threloff adding a layup before Wilkins broke ISU's 0-for-4 start behind the arc with a three to make it 12-11 WMU with 12:24 left in the half.
After two free throws for each team, the Redbirds took their first lead of the game when Carmichael banked in a jumper to put ISU on top 15-14 at the 11:07 mark. With the game tied 17-17 at the 8:47 mark, the Redbirds began a 12-3 run, which included eight-straight points. Brown capped the spurt with his first three of the game, giving ISU a 29-20 lead with 5:37 left in the half.
Despite the Redbird defense holding WMU without a field goal from the 7:24 to 2:00 mark, the Broncos were able to stay in the game via the charity stripe. WMU made seven free throws during the stretch, before a Brandon Pokely three broke the drought and made the score 35-30 Redbirds. Still leading by five points at 40-35 with the first half winding down, Carmichael hit a jumper from the top of the key as time expired to give ISU a 42-35 halftime advantage.
Carmichael picked up where he left off to begin the second half, scoring the Redbirds' first four points of the stanza. The Redbirds equaled their largest lead of the game, nine, three times in the second half's first four-plus minutes, while never leading by less than six during the stretch.
ISU extended its lead coming out of the under-16-minute media timeout, as Brown connected on a jumper before Nick Zeisloft hit a three pointer from the right wing to put ISU up 56-42. Another Zeisloft triple at the 13:00 mark pushed the lead back to 14, at 59-45.
The Broncos climbed back within 10 before Brown connected from behind the arc, extending ISU's lead to 64-51 with 10:11 remaining. After two Threloff free throws to put ISU up 66-53 at 9:31 mark, neither team scored for the next two-plus minutes. After WMU made four-straight free throws to climb back within nine, Wilkins found Carmichael for an open layup that pushed ISU's lead back to double-digits for good, at 68-57. Two possessions later, Hill penetrated the lane before finding Geoffrey Allen for a three that gave the Redbirds another 14-point lead, at 71-57, with 5:20 remaining.
From there, the Redbirds outscored the Broncos 14-6 to close out the win. Wilkins scored nine points during the run, giving him his second-straight double-digit offensive output.
The Redbirds will conclude their three-game homestand Sunday, Dec. 16 against Morgan State. Tipoff is set for 4:35 p.m.
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