In its final tune up before starting conference play, Illinois State received a game-high 23 points from senior guard Osiris Eldridge on way to an 80-56 victory over Grambling State on Doug Collins Court at Redbirds Arena Tuesday night.
Eldridge, who scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half, was one of three Redbirds in double figures thanks to a 9-for-13 effort shooting from the field. Freshman forward Jackie Carmichael tied his career high with 16 points against the Tigers and senior forward Dinma Odiakosa recorded his fourth double-double performance of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead after a jumper by George Akpele at the 17:08 mark, but Eldridge quickly answered with a steal and threw down a thunderous dunk on the other end to cut the lead to three points. Grambling State continued to build its lead and eventually took a 17-11 lead at the 12:26 mark in the first half on a three-pointer by Donald Qualls.
Illinois State finally got going and went on an 11-1 run over the next four and a half minutes to take a 22-18 lead. Odiakosa started the run with a layup at the 11:48 mark and capped off the streak with a jumper with less than eight minutes remaining on the clock. Qualls hit two free throws for the Tigers soon after to cut the lead to 22-20, but that would be as close as they would get.
Eldridge kick-started the ISU offensive attack with a three-pointer and later added a three throw to extend the lead to 28-22. Alex Rubin then hit a trey to widen the lead to 31-22, but the Tigers kept the deficit close at eight points after a three-pointer by Lance Fuertado with 39 seconds remaining in the half. The Redbird held for the last shot of the half, and it was Eldridge who came up big once again as he hit a three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired to finish with 18 first-half points.
The halftime break did not cool down the Redbird offense, as ISU opened the second half on a 7-0 run to widen the lead to 46-28 just a minute and a half in. Odiakosa dunked home the first two points of the half after off an assist from Eldridge and hit the first of two free throws, before Carmichael hit a pair of free throws to keep the run going. A jumper by Odiakosa extended the run to the 18:23 mark, before Ariece Perkins completed a three-point play to cut the lead to 46-31.
Kevin Loyd then connected from long range to cut the lead to 12 points, before the Redbirds answered with a 9-0 run to balloon the lead to 23 points at 57-34. Lloyd Phillips scored his first six points of the game in three-consecutive trips down the floor before Akpele put a stop to the run for the Tigers with a jumper at the 12:44 mark to make the score 57-36.
Grambling State attempted to mount a comeback and cut the lead to 64-49 at the 7:43 mark thanks to a quick 7-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Fuertado. That momentum quickly faded, as the Redbirds extended the lead back to 23 points at 74-51 after Eldridge’s fourth trey of the game made the score 74-51 with just under four minutes left to play.
The Redbirds cruised the rest of the way, allowing just five points in the final three minutes of play to come away with the 80-56 victory over the Tigers. Illinois State returns to action at Redbird Arena Tuesday, Dec. 29, when it opens Missouri Valley Conference play against the Wichita State Shockers. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. on Doug Collins Court.
article courtesy ISU Sports Information