Toledo, Ohio — The spark was gone for the Indiana State men’s basketball team against Toledo on Saturday. In more ways than one.
ISU went more than 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half. An ISU lead that had peaked at 11 had evaporated into a five-point Toledo lead with 1:57 left.
Just when it seemed the pilot light was out, Carl Richard and Jake Kelly lit a match.
Kelly made a 12-foot jumper with six seconds left in the game as ISU escaped Savage Arena with a 55-54 nonconference victory. It was ISU’s third road win of the season and fourth away from Hulman Center.
“It feels real good. Hopefully that shot will get me in rhythm and get me going, but it was a good team victory,” Kelly said.
It was a welcome moment both for Kelly and the Sycamores given that the man the Sycamores have depended on to be their ignitor — Harry Marshall — did not make the trip to Toledo due to his second suspension of the season.
Marshall was suspended from the program for a “violation of team and university policies.” ISU coach Kevin McKenna declined comment what the specific violation of team and university policies was.
“It’s a one-game suspension for now and we hope to have Harry back as soon as we can,” McKenna said.
When asked when the suspension was levied, McKenna said the determination was made during the past week. McKenna had no other comment on any other specifics of Marshall’s suspension.
It is the second time Marshall has been suspended this season. He was suspended for four days in November for another undisclosed violation of team rules and missed a Nov. 3 exhibition game against Rose-Hulman. Marshall was also academically ineligible for first semester games during the 2008-09 season.
“Playing without him was rough for the first two or three minutes, but after that, we just have to deal with who’s out there,” Richard said.
Though ISU made key shots in the final minute and took advantage of woeful Toledo free throw shooting (8 of 18 for the game, including three misses in the final minute), it was the Sycamores’ second half defense that ultimately kept them in a winning position.
Leading by three at halftime, ISU began the second half on a 10-2 run as the Rockets (3-9) were shut out on eight of their first nine possessions. ISU led 42-31 with 14 minutes left in the contest.
“In the second half, we were solid with our defense. There weren’t many gift baskets in there. Defensively, we did a decent job,” McKenna said.
ISU would need every point it put in the bank during its early run as its offense dried up. From the time ISU led by 11 until the final minute, the Sycamores scored on just three of 17 possessions, only once via a made field goal. The Sycamores could not hit its jump shots and Toledo did a good job cutting off penetration into the paint.
But ISU’s defense never completely fell off. Despite ISU’s drought, Toledo did not take the lead until Mouhamed Lo’s layup at the 2:48 mark. Jake Barnett, who led all scorers with 20 points, made a 3-pointer with 1:57 left to put the Rockets up five.
After Kelly made a pair of free throws with a minute left to make it 54-51, ISU gave itself a lifeline via smart fouling out of its press. Lo missed the front end of a one-and-one and eventually ISU got the ball to Richard on the baseline. He converted a layup to cut the deficit to one.
ISU then fouled Jordan Dressler — a 53 percent foul shooter — and he missed a pair of free throws in the double bonus.
Kelly got the rebound, and after an ISU timeout, got the game-winning shot.
Kelly put a step-fake on Barnett and had an open 12-footer on the right wing just inside the free throw line. He buried the shot to put ISU in front. Toledo could only muster a long 3-point attempt by Jay Shunnar, which clanked off the back of the rim.
“Last year around this time, we wouldn’t have pulled a game like this out. It’s so good for us. Confidence was crazy for us in the locker room,” said ISU center Isiah Martin, who had eight points and 10 rebounds.
ISU next plays host to IUPUI on Wednesday afternoon.
Toledo, Ohio — The spark was gone for the Indiana State men’s basketball team against Toledo on Saturday. In more ways than one.
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