Redbirds Drop Home Opener To Drexel, 78-70
Michael Middlebrook recorded his first double-double in a Redbird uniform with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Michael Middlebrook recorded his first double-double in a Redbird uniform with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Nov. 12, 2013

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NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State and Drexel were tied and changed the lead four times in the first half of play, but an early second-half surge by the Dragons (1-1) proved to be the difference in a 78-70 defeat over the Redbirds (0-2) in the home opener on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.

Bobby Hunter led five Redbird players in double figures with 14 points, with John Jones right behind with 12 points. Zach Lofton chipped in 11 points, Paris Lee added 10 points and Michael Middlebrooks recorded his first double-double at ISU with 10 points and 15 rebounds against the Dragons. Chris Fouch led all scorers with 26 points and was one of four Drexel players in double figures.

Drexel jumped out to an 8-4 lead, thanks to a 4-for-7 effort from the field, over the first four and a half minutes of action. The Dragons would extend that lead to 14-9 by the second media timeout, before Lofton connected from three-point range to cut the lead to 14-12 with just over 11 minutes left in the first half.

The Redbirds would take the lead at 15-14 soon after, when Lee nailed a three-pointer from the right corner, and John Jones added a pair of free throws to cap off an 8-0 run for ISU. The lead would last for a minute, until Tavon Allen tied the game at 17-17 with a three-pointer. Drexel would take the lead at 19-17 on a layup by Frantz Massenat just under a minute later.

Illinois State would rally back with a layup by Hunter and a pair of free throws from Lofton to regain the lead at 21-19, after Drexel's Damion Lee was called for a technical foul. After Drexel tied the game for the fourth time at 21-21, a tip-in by Nick Zeisloft gave the Redbirds the lead at 23-21 with 5:19 remaining in the first half. The lead would grow to 27-23 a minute later, when Daishon Knight hit his first three-pointer of the game. Drexel would end the half on a 7-0 run, after a jumper by Allen and five-straight points from Chris Fouch, to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Dragons did not cool down after the break, and started the second half on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 41-32 a minute and a half in. Illinois State would answer with a quick 5-0 run, capped off by a jumper from Lee, to cut the lead to four points at 41-37 at the 16:44 mark. Drexel then went on a 12-5 run to widen the lead to 53-42, after Fouch connected from three-point range with just over 11 minutes left on the clock. The teams traded baskets and Drexel maintained a double-digit lead, until Lee connected from three point range to cut into the Dragons' lead at 60-53 with 6:10 left in the game.

The lead stayed at seven points for Drexel at 64-57 after Middlebrooks scored on a tip-in two minutes later, but the Dragons fired back with a 5-0 run to widen the lead back out to 12 points at 70-58 with under two minutes left in the game. Four-straight points from Hunter in a 35-second stretch cut the lead back to single digits at 70-62. He added two free throws to cut it to six points at 70-64, but that would be as close as the Redbirds would get and Drexel held on over the final minute for the win.

The Redbirds return to action Sunday, when they travel to Evanston, Ill., to face off against Big Ten Conference foe Northwestern. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.