Fayne, Yarbrough lead Illinois State to MVC opening round win
A double-double from Phil Fayne and 18 points from Milik Yarbrough lifted No. 7 seed Illinois State to a 65-60 victory over No. 10 seed Evansville in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Thursday night at the Enterprise Center.
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How It Happened
Illinois State took a 7-1 lead out of the first media timeout after a three-pointer by Isaac Gassman. Evansville rallied to trim the lead to one at 10-9, before the Redbirds extended the lead back out to five points at 15-10 after a jumper by Rey Idowu with just over eight minutes left to play in the first half. Once again, the Aces trimmed the lead back to a point at 15-14, before Josh Jefferson connected from long range with 5:45 to play to extend the lead back out to four at 18-14 and later, a layup by Fayne made the lead 22-17 with just over four minutes to play. A 9-0 run by the Aces gave them their first lead of the contest at 26-22, before the Redbirds answered with a quick 5-0 run on a jumper by Fayne and another three-pointer by Gassman to regain the lead at 27-26. A jumper with 15 seconds left in the half gave Evansville the 28-27 advantage at the break.
Both teams were cold to start the second half, but four points from Fayne and a layup by Yarbrough gave the Redbirds a 33-28 lead four minutes into the half. The lead ballooned to double digits at 44-33 for the Redbirds after a pair of free throws from Zach Copeland, but Evansville responded with a 12-0 run over the next five-plus minutes of action to take a 45-44 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the contest. Illinois State would respond with an 11-4 run of its own, capped off on a jumper by Keyshawn Evans in the paint to give the Redbirds a 55-49 lead with 4:31 left on the clock. After a three-pointer by Evansville trimmed the lead back to three points, back-to-back buckets by Yarbrough and Matt Chastain gave the ‘Birds a seven-point advantage at 59-52, before another Aces three-pointer cut the Redbird lead back to four at 59-55 with 2:32 to play. A jumper by Yarbrough with just under a minute to play widened the lead back out to six at 61-55 and that would be enough for the Redbirds as they closed out the victory.
After Evansville took a 47-46 lead with 7:27 left, seven-straight points including four by Yarbrough put ISU ahead for good.
Inside the Box Score
• Fayne scored in double digits (17) for the eighth-straight game and recorded his fifth double-double of the season with a team-high 10 rebounds
• The senior also blocked three shots, snapping a streak of five games without a block, and upping his season total of three or more blocks in a game to seven
• Yarbrough scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, despite being limited to just 12 minutes of action due to foul trouble
• In his first MVC Tournament appearance, Chastain finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of action
Stat of the Game
Illinois State made four of its last five field goal attempts in the game to come away with the hard-fought victory.
The Redbirds advance to the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament and are set to face No. 2 seed Drake at 6 p.m. Friday.
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