Final: ISU 74, WSU 59. Redbirds end game on a 22-8 run.
3:55 remaining: ISU 63, WSU 54. WSU hasn’t made a field goal since Reggie Chamberlain’s jumper in the lane that cut ISU’s lead to 52-51.
5:50 remaining: ISU 59, WSU 53. Heady, hustle play by Hannah. WSU will gladly trade the timeout for possession.
7:26 remaining: ISU 56, WSU 51. The Redbirds aren’t quite as scary without Lloyd Phillips. When they get it going, however, they are plenty fun to watch. Oguchi and Eldridge are two athletes I don’t think anybody in the Valley can match. Gregg Marshall called a timeout to stop this run. WSU can’t fall too much farther behind. Durley has only two points. He and Murry are the missing guys in WSU’s scoring.
11:55 remaining: WSU 47, ISU 45. Clemente with five straight points to give WSU the lead. He is 5 of 6 from the field (5 of 8 from the line) for 15 points. ISU is doing a good lockdown job on Murry, who is rarely getting any room to shoot. He has two points. Three shots. Eldridge is following him everywhere.
15:34 remaining: ISU 40, WSU 39. Sometimes it seems like the Redbirds are so talented they coast, thinking they can turn it on. Often, they can. WSU is doing a nice job of sticking close. Hannah has 16 points and has made 3 of 4 threes. Clemente has 10 points.
Halftime: ISU 32, WSU 29. Shocks made a nice rally to get close. Eleven turnovers is the story for WSU.
11:56 remaining: WSU 13, ISU 10. Oguchi is 0 for 4.
15:51 remaining: WSU 8, ISU 2. No complaining about the refs tonight. Hawkins got away with a walk and, perhaps, a charge, on his basket. Great start for the Shockers. They looked locked in and ready to go. ISU missed its first five shots.
WSU starters – Hannah, Clemente, Murry, Hawkins, Durley. ISU – Eldridge, Holloway, Shipley, Oguchi, Odiakosa.
WSU’s resurgence is pretty much a home-based phenomena. A win tonight over the Valley’s third-place team and the late-season rally takes on a whole new tone. No question, it will be difficult. ISU, apparently, has moved past some of its issues and played very well at Drake. The Redbirds are still playing for the title, seeding and post-season play. They are widely considered the MVC’s most physically talented team. For only the second time in MVC play, the Shockers are playing a team with revenge in its heart.
This is another game, like Saturday’s UNI game, where WSU must score close to 70 point to have a chance. ISU has scored 65 or fewer points at home twice this season, both in victories. WSU has scored more than 60 points twice in seven previous MVC games.
A month ago, the loss of David Kyles wasn’t much of an issue for WSU. Now it feels like a problem. It would be nice for the Shockers to throw him at Osiris Eldridge.
I checked out Illinois State’s new baseball stadium this afternoon. Much work remains, but it will be a definite upgrade and one of the nicer stadiums in the Valley. Among on-campus stadiums, it may well rank only behind Wichita State’s. It is the right size for the program.
Here’s a column by ESPN.com’s Pat Forde worth reading. Forde details the uphill battle for conferences such as the MVC to earn at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. It’s scary reading for MVC fans. Last season, I didn’t get too upset at the Valley’s one bid. Illinois State was certainly a worthy team that would have been representative as a seed in the No. 10 range. But the Redbirds went 0-3 against Drake and dug their own hole. This season, UNI, if it wins the regular-season title, probably deserves a bid. Its non-conference performance, however, makes that unlikely. If the champion isn’t good enough for an at-large bid, it’s another hard blow to the MVC’s reputation. Creighton, should it continue on its hot streak, is the other MVC team worthy of consideration. Should they both win out until the championship game in St. Louis, I think both are deserving – UNI for winning one of the top 10 conferences and Creighton for its great finish. Illinois State, because of its uninspiring non-conference schedule, has no argument.