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Redbirds Overcome Turnovers To Defeat Purdue Northwest

Written by on November 28, 2021

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

Story by Rachel Hickey

NORMAL Ill.- Although turnovers and sloppy ball handling threatened to be the end of Illinois State men’s basketball, the Redbirds triumphed over the Pride of Purdue Northwest 81-71 Saturday night in Normal.

Following Illinois State volleyball’s Missouri Valley Conference victory, the men got off to a slow start in Redbird Arena, holding just single point leads through the first half of gameplay. With the ‘Birds struggling to snatch rebounds and giving up numerous turnovers to the Pride, a strong lead was difficult to secure over the Division II foe.

Head coach Dan Muller recognized the team would likely get off to a sluggish start and addressed the team in the locker room.

“Different day today with an awesome volleyball win… About over half my team watched the entire thing and was cheering the entire day so its kind of been an odd day,” noted Muller. “Purdue Northwest did a great job, we had some ups and downs and kind of sloppy here an there. Most disappointed in our turnovers but I knew it would be sloppy so this was an important win for us.”

An improved 3-point field goal percentage and more rebounds helped propel the Redbirds into a double-digit lead in the second half, despite turnovers continuing to plague the team on the court. Throughout the game, the Redbirds racked up 17 turnovers to the Pride’s 11.

Illinois State also managed higher field goal percentages, averaging 47% to Purdue Northwest’s 40%. Purdue Northwest had double-digit fouls in the second half, further allowing the Redbirds to launch ahead of the game.

Offensively, junior Antonio Reeves scored a team and game-high 20 points. Teammate Sy Chatman led on the opposite side of the court with 12 rebounds and starting guard Mark Freeman contributed seven assists. Three Redbirds finished the game with double-digit points, with Reeves, Chatman (12) and Kendall Lewis (10).

“Pretty much in the first half, I felt like we had low energy, lack of focus,” commented Reeves. “But we just continued to stay the course and put our heads down at the half.”

Tonight’s win shatters ISU’s two-loss streak, granting the ‘Birds some much needed momentum headed into regular season conference play.

The Redbirds stay home once again this Wednesday December 1 at 7 p.m. to take on their first conference opponent in the Missouri State Bears. This is the earliest MVC regular season matchup in recent men’s basketball history.

“Going into practice this week, we’ll be ready,” said Reeves on the team’s preparedness for such an early matchup. “I believe in my teammates, picking up other teammates – that we’re going to be ready going into Wednesday.”