(Photo Credit: Mick Lite)
In the battle of the ISU’s, the Indiana State Sycamores took down the Illinois State Redbirds 65-57 in the first upset of the MVC tournament. The six seed Sycamores used lockdown defense and an advantageous offense to take down the three seed Redbirds, who were the favorites to win the game. Indiana State advances to the semifinals tomorrow to play the two seed Evansville Purple Aces, who took down Missouri State earlier in the evening. The game will take place at 5:00pm tomorrow.
During the first half, it was nothing but a defensive battle. The two teams combined for four total points in the first five minutes. Brandon Murphy and Niels
Bunschoten had made shots to put the Sycamores up 4-0 early. The Redbirds however, struggled mightily. They failed to get any points until the 14:56 mark of the first half, which is when Paris Lee nailed a jump shot. Soon after that, Illinois State guard Justin McCloud hit two consecutive shots (one of them was a three) to put the Birds up 5-4. That 5-4 lead would be the only time the Redbirds had the lead in the first half.
A couple of threes by Matt Van Scyoc and Bunschoten then increased the Sycamores lead. The action was back and forth with a lot of fast breaks and layup opportunities. The Sycamores held the lead for the rest of the half, and it ranged anywhere from two to nine. This was quite shocking, as the Redbirds were big favorites over the Sycamores. Illinois State played great defense, but just couldn’t get it going on offense in the first half. Indiana State led Illinois State 24-17 at halftime. Illinois State shot 7/30 in the first half and Indiana State shot 9/29. Neither team was potent on offense in the first half.
In the second half, the Sycamores jumped right out of the gate, scoring on three straight possessions including a three and a layup
from Brenton Scott, to quickly increase their lead to 31-17. Illinois State continued to struggle from the field, and trailed by double digits for a majority of the second half. Just passed the halfway point of the second half, the Redbirds seemed like they were coming back. They cut the Sycamore lead to single digits at 45-37. But right after the deficit was down to single digits, Scott hit another three for Indiana State.
After increasing the lead to double digits once again, Indiana State didn’t look back. At least it seemed that way. The Redbirds again got the Sycamore lead under double digits with just over two minutes to play. The Redbirds cut the Sycamore lead to as little as five, with under two minutes left in the game. Then with just 41.5 seconds left, Illinois State only trailed by four and had possession. But the Redbirds failed on two three point attempts, proverbially ending the game.
The Sycamores kept up the aggressive mentality under head coach Greg Lansing and the Sycamores were able to upset the Redbirds 65-57 and clinch the final spot in the semifinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. They play against a tough, two seed Evansville tomorrow afternoon.