ST. LOUIS —
Two years ago, Indiana State knocked Evansville out of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament via a last-second shot.
On Friday? It was a last-second swat.
After Justin Gant made a free throw to put the Sycamores up one with two seconds left, Devonte Brown rejected a Ned Cox layup attempt at the buzzer Friday as ISU defeated Evansville 51-50 to advance to today’s semifinal round.
The Sycamores (18-13) will play No. 1-seeded Creighton at 2:35 p.m. EST today. The Bluejays pulled away from Drake to post a 65-53 victory in the opening quarterfinal game at Arch Madness.
It was a harrowing, but ultimately, uplifting finish for the Sycamores, who had lost five of six entering the contest.
It was ISU’s first victory over a MVC opponent since Feb. 9.
“We definitely needed this win. We knew it was going to be a fight. We knew we’d have to grind the whole time. It was punch-after-punch,” said ISU center Jake Kitchell.
In a game defined by its rough-and-tumble nature, ISU mined some unexpected diamonds.
The play of ISU’s bench shined brightest of all. ISU’s bench scored 30 of the Sycamores’ 51 points.
“[The bench] is the reason we won this game. They stepped up huge,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said. “These guys were relentless today. They made big plays after big plays.”
In addition to his last-second block, Brown led the Sycamores with 11 points, all scored in a five-minute burst to end the first half. It’s the first time the redshirt freshman has led ISU in scoring.
“Devonte saved us in the first half. There was no question. We were standing around stuck in mud. Devonte came in and was really aggressive getting to the paint,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Kitchell picked up the scoring mantle in the second half. The sophomore scored seven of his career-high nine points in less than three minutes early in the half to help ISU break away from the Aces.
“For him to lift us? I’m so happy for him. He’s a tremendous teammate. Even when he’s playing three or four minutes, he’s always been a positive influence,” Lansing said.
ISU’s also held Evansville star Colt Ryan to eight points overall — 12 below his season average — and more importantly, held Ryan scoreless in the second half (see related story).
Ryan made just 4 of 18 from the field. It was the first time in 20 games Ryan failed to reach double-figure scoring. Ryan didn’t attempt a free throw, the first time he’s failed to do so in 24 contests.
Overall, ISU played defense with far more aplomb and attentiveness. In an 84-68 loss to Evansville last Saturday, the Aces had 26 assists. On Friday, Evansville (18-14) managed just six.
“We defensively stuck it to them. We got back to playing defense like we had in the past and got the monkey off our back,” Kitchell said.
The game was a bump-and-grind defensive stalemate from tipoff. Evansville enjoyed the advantage for most of the first half, but it never led by more than four points.
Brown provided a spark for ISU starting at the 5:30 mark. He converted a layup to pull ISU within one and didn’t stop scoring. By the :55 mark, Brown had scored via a putback, a layup, a 3-pointer and two free throws to fuel 13-6 run to give ISU a 27-23 lead.
The Sycamores led by two at the break despite no points from either Odum or reinstated Manny Arop in the first half.
“We really weren’t patient the first 10 minutes of the game. When I got in, if I wasn’t patient, I was coming right out,” said Brown on his spurt. “Guys were going to Gant, guys were going to Odum, so they’re leaving open lanes for me and everyone else.”
After Evansville sliced its deficit to one, Kitchell got ISU going. He provided seven of the points in a 12-3 run that helped ISU take a 44-34 lead with 10:56 left.
“We were doing a screen-and-roll thing. It was trying to find the open spaces and they found me in stride. It’s easy when guys find you inside,” Kitchell said.
ISU would only make two more field goals for the remainder of the game, and by the 6:18 mark, a 14-2 run helped Evansville take a 48-46 lead.
It was 50-50 by the 3:05 mark, but neither team could close the deal. ISU had a stretch of five consecutive empty possessions, but Ryan turned it over once and missed a pair of shots that could have put the Aces in front.
With 22.8 seconds left, Evansville had its best chance to take the lead as Troy Taylor was fouled on a backdoor cut. Taylor missed both free throws and ISU had a chance to play for the last shot.
It didn’t come to that. Instead, Gant was fouled by Egidijus Mockevicius with 2.5 left. Gant missed his first free throw, but drained the next to give ISU the lead.
Crafty Evansville elected to lob the ball into its own half. The Aces tipped the ball at the top of the key and guard Ned Cox recovered it and drove to the basket.
Brown, who originally had defended Ryan off the inbounds pass, slipped to the baseline and blocked Cox’s attempt at the buzzer.
“I thought we were beat. My heart was about to fall out of my chest,” Lansing said. “The basketball gods were watching and Devonte saved us.”
ISU had anticipated the tip play, but didn’t defend it correctly. Brown saved the day.
“We had a breakdown and somebody had to make a play. I just sprinted and got there and got the block. That’s all it really was. It was just a breakdown,” Brown said.
A “breakdown” that has ISU playing in a MVC Tournament semifinal for the second time in three seasons.
INDIANA STATE (51) — Arop 1-6 2-2 4, Mahurin 3-6 2-5 10, Cummings 0-3 2-2 2, Odum 2-8 0-1 5, K. Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Kitchell 4-4 1-2 9, Eitel 1-3 0-0 3, Gant 3-8 1-2 7, Brown 4-7 2-2 11. Totals 18-47 FG, 10-16 FT, 51 TP.
EVANSVILLE (50) — Mockevicius 4-5 3-3 11, Taylor 4-7 1-3 9,. Ryan 4-18 0-0 8, Wing 0-3 1-2 1, Cox 2-7 0-0 5, Sawvell 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 2-7 2-2 6, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Balentine 4-8 0-0 10. Totals 20-56 FG, 7-10 FT, 50 TP.
Halftime score — ISU 27-25. 3-point goals — ISU 5-16 (Mahurin 2-5, Eitel 1-3, Odum 1-2, Brown 1-2, Arop 0-2, Cummings 0-2), UE 3-11 (Balentine 2-3, Cox 1-3, Ryan 0-3, Jones 0-2). Rebounds — ISU 35 (Gant 6, Brown 6, Mahurin 5, Kitchell 5, Team 4, Arop 3, Odum 3, Eitel 2, Cummings), UE 34 (Taylor 10, Mockevicius 7, Balentine 4, Team 4, Ryan 4, Jones 2, Cox, Sawvell, Nelson), Assists — ISU 10 (Odum 4, Brown 2, Arop, Cummings, Eitel, Gant), UE 6 (Cox 2, Taylor, Ryan, Wing, Balentine), Steals — ISU 3 (Cummings 3), UE 6 (Mockevicius 3, Wing 2, Ryan), Blocks — ISU 3 (Mahurin, K. Smith, Brown), UE 2 (Mockevicius), Turnovers — ISU 11 (Arop 3, Odum 2, Brown 2, Mahurin, Cummings, Kitchell, Eitel), UE 7 (Ryan 3, Taylor 2, Mockevicius, Wing), Total fouls — ISU 12, UE 14. A — 14,567 (first two games of session).
Next — ISU (18-13) plays Creighton (25-7) at 2:35 p.m. today in a MVC Tournament semifinal game. Evansville (18-14) will await its postseason fate.
Rejection at buzzer helps ISU advance to MVC semifinal
ST. LOUIS —
Two years ago, Indiana State knocked Evansville out of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament via a last-second shot.
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
Rose-Hulman wins third straight HCAC tournament crown
Tied with Hanover 26-26 at halftime of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game Saturday night, host Rose-Hulman knew it had a couple of things in its favor.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Engineers, Hanover to vie for HCAC title
For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball teams of Rose-Hulman and Hanover will square off for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship in Terre Haute.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Sheehey's career-high 30 helps Hoosiers over No. 20 Iowa
Will Sheehey scored 19 of his career-high 30 points in the first half and Stanford Robinson added a career-best 17 to lead Indiana over No. 20 Iowa 93-86 on Thursday night in a game that was postponed last week.
A.J. Reed picks up multiple NCAA baseball honors
Kentucky junior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed has been named National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a National Player of the Week by NCAA.com, according to separate announcements.
A member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, the Terre Haute native was named National Hitter of the Week by the NCBWA, with VMI right-hander Reed Garrett earning NCBWA Pitcher of the Week.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Rose coach expects wide-open race for HCAC title
Both Rose-Hulman basketball programs hope their teams will still be talked about in the Wabash Valley media after this weekend when they compete in their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournaments.
No. 16 Michigan rallies past Purdue
Glenn Robinson III got a late bank shot to roll in as time expired Wednesday night, giving No. 16 Michigan a 77-76 overtime victory at Purdue.
Metro roundup: Hutson awarded USA Track and Field grant
Terre Haute native and 2016 Olympic hopeful Kylie Hutson was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation.
- More College Headlines
- Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals