Jackie Carmichael led the Illinois State men’s basketball team with his fourth double-double of the season, as the Redbirds (9-3, 1-0 MVC) opened Missouri Valley Conference play with 65-61 victory against Northern Iowa (10-3, 0-1 MVC) Thursday night on Doug Collins Court.
Illinois State is now 4-1 in league openers under head coach Tim Jankovich and the win for ISU snapped a seven-game losing streak to UNI. Carmichael led the Redbirds with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Jon Ekey also added a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, with all 13 points coming in the second half. Nic Moore also scored in double figures with 13 points to go along with four assists and Anthony Cousin made five free throws in the final minute to clinch the victory and finish with 11 points. The Panthers were led by Anthony James, who scored a game-high 21 points.
Illinois State jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first half, after a three-pointer by Moore and a pair of layups by Carmichael. During that stretch, the Panthers were held scoreless for the first six-plus minutes of the game, until Austin Pehl made a layup at the 13:55 mark. During that stretch, UNI was 0-for-8 from the field. The Redbirds maintained a nine-point lead after another four-point run, pushing the score to 11-2 with a layup from Tyler Brown and foul shots from Carmichael.
After UNI cut the lead to 13-8 after a pair of free throws by Seth Tuttle, Cousin hit a three-pointer to extend the lead back to eight at 16-8. The Panthers answered with an 8-0 run, including three pointers from Marc Sonnen and Matt Morrison, to tie the game for the first time at 16-16 at the 6:45 mark. Back-to-back layups from both teams kept the game even until a three-pointer from Cousin, and a layup and foul shot from Carmichael put the Redbirds back in the lead, 24-18.
The Panthers responded with an eight-point run, including two three-pointers from James and a layup from Tuttle.
Carmichael scored a layup and brought the game back to a tie at 26-26. Northern Iowa’s Johnny Moran gave the Panthers a quick two-point lead with a layup, which was answered with a dunk from Johnny Hill. After a final block from Carmichael, the two teams went into the locker room tied at 28-28.
Carmichael scored the first points of the second half within the first fifteen seconds and after two three-pointers from Ekey, the Redbirds jumped back to an eight-point lead, 36-28. Northern Iowa cut the lead to seven points, 42-35, but a dunk and three-pointer from Ekey pushed the ‘Birds back to a thirteen-point margin, 48-35. Despite back-to-back baskets from Northern Iowa and Illinois State, the Redbirds stayed ahead with a basket from Moore, bringing the Redbird lead to 52-39.
A three-pointer from UNI’s Sonnen cut the lead, 52-42, but ISU fired back with two layups from Carmichael, keeping a twelve-point margin on the Panthers, 56-44. Moore later scored a three-pointer to push the lead back to thirteen points, 59-46, which the Panthers quickly responded to with a three-pointer from Chip Rank. Northern Iowa brought the game back to a five-point game with a basket from Moran and a three-pointer from James, 59-54.
Northern Iowa’s Sonnen and Moran both scored to cut the ISU lead to just one at 59-58. That would be as close as the Panthers would get, as Cousin hit five free throws in the final minute to secure the 64-61 win.
The Redbirds return to action on January 1, 2012, at 2 p.m. in Carbondale, Ill., against Southern Illinois.
article courtesy ISU Sports Information