DES MOINES, Iowa – A late 16-point swing by Illinois State allowed the Redbirds to sneak past the Drake University men’s basketball team, 94-86, in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup Wednesday night at the Knapp Center.
A 6-0 Illinois State (14-10, 5-7) run, that lasted 1:29 late in the second half gave the Redbirds their first lead of the game, 85-84, with 1:44 remaining in the game. Before that point, Drake (11-12, 5-7) had led the entire game. The Bulldogs offense was stymied in the final three minutes of the game by an effective Illinois state press that allowed only two points during that span while generating offense for the Redbirds.
“Part of the press is when it works, it has a mental aspect to it,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of ISU’s defense. “When you turn the ball over, you’re more anxious the next time. It worked liked presses are supposed to work and we needed to attack it better.”
A balanced offensive attack saw five Bulldogs score in double figures, led by 17 points from junior Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.). Senior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) recorded his sixth double-double this season, with 12 points and 10 boards. Seniors Chris Hines (Houston, Texas) and Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) scored 16 and 13 points respectively, and freshman Joey King (Eagan, Minn.) added 11 points.
Despite shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, the Bulldogs struggled in the second half, shooting just a 38.5 percent clip in the period. Illinois State shot 48.3 percent from the floor on the evening.
The Redbirds had four players score in double figures, including a pair 20-point performances from its top two scorers. Tyler Brown had a game-high 25 points and nine assists, while All-MVC selection Jackie Carmichael exploded for 18 second half points to finish with 23 total. John Wilkins tallied 18 points and Bryant Allen added 12.
Drake’s offense, fueled by a flurry of three pointers, was potent in the first half to take a 51-40 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs put together their best offensive first half of the season, topping previous season-high scoring totals and three-point totals set in the game at Nevada, on November 30. The Bulldogs drained nine three-point buckets in the first half. Drake led by as many as 17 points in the half, but the Redbirds trimmed their deficit to 11 at the break. Clarke led the Blue and White with 12 points at halftime and had seven boards.
Drake will travel to Evansville this weekend for a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Tipoff is scheduled for 7p.m. Sunday against the Purple Aces at the Ford Center.
“We will show the same resiliency we have,” Phelps said of preparing for the Bulldogs’ next opponent. “It’s a disappointing loss, but guys in the locker room will be determined. They’ll hurt tonight but they’ll get a good dose of resilience and resolve tomorrow and be ready to play on Sunday.”