Eldridge Pours in Career High, but `Birds Fall 76-72
Feb. 16, 2008
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Sophomore Osiris Eldridge poured in a season- and career-high 34 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the floor, but it wasn't enough. The Illinois State men's basketball team (18-8, 10-5 MVC) dropped a 76-72 decision to the Indiana State Sycamores in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup at Hulman Center Saturday afternoon. Eldridge was also a sizzling 7-for-9 from three-point land, tying for the fifth-best single-game total in school history. Eldridge also scored 24-plus points for the third-straight game.
Senior Anthony Slack was the only other Redbird in double-figures, as the New Orleans native chipped in with 10 points.
Indiana State (12-13, 7-8 MVC) improved to 11-1 when playing at Hulman Center this season. The Sycamores were led in scoring by Gabe Moore, Jay Tunnell and Harry Marshall, who tallied 14 points apiece. Moore was effective from the free throw line, hitting all eight of his attempts from the charity stripe in the second half. Marico Stinson also chipped in with 12 points.
Eldridge scored eight of the Redbirds' first 10 points, as Illinois State grabbed an early 10-2 lead and forced Indiana State to take its first timeout at the 18:01 mark in the first half. Eldridge hit back-to-back three-pointers during the spurt, causing matchup problems for the Sycamore defense. Eldridge continued his hot shooting, hitting another three from the left corner, as the Redbirds held a 15-6 lead at the first media timeout (15:48).
The Chicago native continued his opening stanza scoring barrage, hitting two more threes and adding a conventional three-point play, to give the Redbirds a 29-22 advantage at the third media timeout (7:34). Illinois State was able to utilize a 10-man rotation to build its largest lead of the half (13 points), after Slack hit two from the charity stripe with 2:56 remaining.
But Indiana State cut the Redbirds' lead to five points, 40-35, as the Sycamores put together a 9-1 run to close out the half. Aaron Carter led the Sycamores during the spurt, scoring three points.
The Redbirds' first-half total marked the first time that Illinois State has scored 40-plus points in the first half since dropping 42 in the league opener at Creighton Dec. 29. Illinois State also shot a sizzling 68.4 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from threes, while Indiana State shot 52.2 percent from the floor in the first stanza.
Indiana State picked up where it left off to open the second half, as the Sycamores used a 10-2 scoring run to take its first lead of the game at 45-44, after Carter hit a contested layup with 13:15 remaining. After scoring the first basket of the second half, the Redbirds were held scoreless for nearly six minutes, until Brandon Sampay hit a reverse layup to push Illinois State back into a 46-45 lead.
Eldridge elevated his game again and scored eight of the Redbirds' next 10 points, giving Illinois State a 64-59 advantage with 6:22 left in regulation. Eldridge hit back-to-back threes during the spurt, including a deep shot from the left corner that hit front iron, bounced high and fell through the net. The Redbirds' defense also picked up, as Indiana State was held without a field goal for more than three minutes.
The Sycamores were able to break out of their offensive slump, and regained the lead after they went on a 17-8 run in the final 6:03, paced by four points apiece by Moore and Stinson. Moore was the deciding factor in the game, as he went a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 32 seconds to preserve the win.
Illinois State will travel to Evansville, Ind., Feb. 20 for the second game of a two-game road swing against Evansville. Tip-off from Roberts Stadium is set for 7:05 p.m.