Indiana State's bench rode to rescue in a way that would make any calvary proud on Wednesday at Loyola.
ISU's bench scored 37 points as the Sycamores defeated the Ramblers 65-61 at Gentile Center to improve to 6-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Khristian Smith led ISU (15-4, 6-1) with 18 points. Brandon Burnett had a career-high 10 points. Jake Kitchell tied a career-high with seven rebounds.
The Sycamore trio came off the bench to make their contributions and kept ISU from taking on too much water as its starters struggled mightily for most of the contest.
"We showed the depth that we have. It's times like this where we really just have to be tough on the road," Smith said. "We'll take it. It's a conference win on the road and they're always tough, especially coming off the loss at Wichita [last Saturday]."
It wasn't one for the scrapbook by any stretch of the imagination. Kitchell described it as "ugly", but one that exemplified ISU's toughness.
"Those ugly wins ... fans don't like them. We don't necessarily like them, but I think it's a toughness thing" Kitchell said. "When it boils down to it, when the game comes down to it like it did, we're a veteran group and took care of business towards the end of the game. It comes down to gutting it out and being the tougher team."
But the bench had to get ISU there first and it was in the first half was where the bench came through the most.
ISU's starters were ice cold from the field. The Sycamores' starting five combined to clank 1 of 15 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The first Sycamore off the bench to ride to the rescue was Smith. He scored ISU's first 11 points and scored in equal parts on drives and on jump shots. His spurt -- he scored the 11 points in the span of just over four minutes -- minimized the damage Loyola could inflict. The Ramblers led 12-11 after the Smith burst.
Later, it was Burnett who provided a lift. Loyola led 24-18 when Burnett helped jump-start a 10-0 ISU run that helped the Sycamores take their first lead of the contest.
Burnett scored seven of the points in the run. ISU led 28-24 at the end of it.