- Tracy Dildy,
Chicago State coach
ISU junior guard Trey Blue tries to keep his balance while driving past a Chicago State defender. (Photo by Leah Gericke / Staff Photographer)
On Thursday night, the only arc more recognizable than McDonald’s was the three-point arc painted on the court of Redbird Arena.
The Illinois State men’s basketball (5-2) team broke a school record of three-point attempts with 38, and their 14 made three-pointers is now the second most in Redbird basketball history and a Redbird Arena record.
Consequently, the Redbirds rolled over the visiting Chicago State Cougars 85-41 and finished the night shooting 48 percent from the field while holding the Cougars (0-7) to a measly 29 percent shooting percentage for the game.
“ We still have a lot to learn, but we’re coming together as a team, we’re one team and very unselfish,” Tyler Brown, ISU guard, said. “We just keep passing and getting open and having good assists.”
ISU was led offensively by John Ekey and Brown who respectively finished the night with a season-high 19 points in 22 minutes and a career-high 18 points in 25 minutes. All six of Brown’s conversions were from behind the three-point arc.
“They played a big zone so we were taking what they gave us,” Ekey said. “We were just moving the ball quickly, unselfishly, as we normally do, and it led to so many threes.”
After a slow start for the Redbirds, in which they shot 2-for-9 from the field, ISU went on a 15-5 run to take a 17-8 lead at the 11:57 mark in the first half. The Redbird run was capped off with a Nic Moore three-pointer. Moore also led all-players with his seven assists, while contributing eight points off the bench.
Chicago State cut the ISU lead to 27-14 at the 7:09 mark, but ISU followed with an 11-0 run. Zeke Upshaw’s three-pointer at the four-minute mark extended the Redbird lead to 38-14 in the first half and carried ISU to a 41-21 halftime lead.
“The guys [ISU] just tore us apart in every facet. We tried different things and they countered everything we tried,” Tracy Dildy, Cougars coach, said. “This team is deep and versatile. They can afford injury and not loose a step. I got them as the surprise of the Valley (Missouri Valley Conference).”
Already up 51-29 in the second half, the Redbirds made four consecutive three-point shots that increased the ISU lead to 63-33 with ten minutes left in the game. John Wilkins, Ekey, and Brown (2) accounted for the four triples that resulted in the 12-4 ISU run.
The Redbirds ended the game scoring the final 12 points and it increased the Redbird lead from 72-41 to 85-41.
“I like that we set a record of [three-point] attempts and makes in game.” Tim Jankovich, ISU coach, said. “I would have hated to set only the [three-point] attempts record without the makes. “
It’s great and it’s fun to have the ability to shoot the ball like we did tonight, it wasn’t luck.”
The Redbirds will play host to the University of North Carolina - Wilmington Saturday night at Redbird Arena as they look to improve their home record to 5-0. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.