NORMAL, Ill. — Paris Lee made it clear on Sunday: He was not losing on Senior Night.
“I love our fans. They come out and support us and show us love,” said the Illinois State senior from Maywood, Illinois. “I can’t lose on Senior Night.”
The Redbirds, in a defensive struggle, finished the regular season a perfect 15-0 at home by defeating Southern Illinois, 50-46. Senior Tony Wills netted 16 points while sophomore Phil Fayne recorded his third career double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
“[We] had big plays down the stretch, again,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller, who captured his 100th career win in the process. “Our defensive numbers were great. It’s pretty cool to be a part of the first team to go undefeated in Redbird Arena history.”
Every year, teams see their dreams of making the NCAA Tournament come true, while others accept bids into other post-season tournaments.
Last season, 68 teams made the NCAA Tournament, 32 made the NIT, 16 made the College Basketball Invitational, 32 made the CollegeInsider.Com Tournament, and 8 teams took part in the inaugural Vegas 16 tournament. If the math is correct, that leaves 195 teams without a spot in post-season play.
Some teams aren’t even eligible for post-season play due to off-court issues, whether it’s due to low APR scorers or self-imposed bans.
That’s where we come in. We don’t discriminate, and even teams who aren’t eligible in the real world are welcome in our eyes. Living up to the Canadian stereotype of always being nice, we have included all 351 teams into one hypothetical post-season tournament.
WICHITA, Kan. — They’re back and the whole Missouri Valley Conference is watching.
One day after being ranked in the Coaches’ Poll for a fifth consecutive season, the Wichita State Shockers extended their winning streak to 11 games defeating Evansville, 109-83. Shaq Morris’ 18 points led six Shockers who scored in double-figures.
“Obviously it’s a big night,” said Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall. “I don’t know if we have ever scored 109 against a defense that good. I don’t know if we have scored 109 period.”
Evansville led for 69 seconds. The Purple Aces had leads at 4-2 and 7-5 during the opening three minutes.
Arch Madness, also known as the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, is just 11 days away, but before the action heads to St. Louis, Illinois State and Loyola had business to settle at Redbird Arena.
And, the action did not disappoint.
Concluding the season series between two of Illinois’ best, the Redbirds fended off the pesky Ramblers, 65-63. A pair of Deontae Hawkins free throws gave Illinois State the lead prior to Ben Richardson’s half court heave rimming out at the horn.
“I feel lucky that we won, to be honest,” said Illinois State head coach Dan Muller. “Obviously, one inch or another and we don’t win.
“We got to start playing better.”
A sea of 8,052 was rocking from the tip. Surged by six from senior Deontae Hawkins, Illinois State flew out to an 8-2 lead.
SPRINGFIELD, MO. — Ever since his arrival on campus, Ronnie Rousseau III had been a big piece of the rotation for the Missouri State Bears in 2016-17.
He transferred to the Bears from State Fair Community College, where he averaged 23.2 points per game as a sophomore, earning him NCJAA Division I Second Team All-American honours in the process. Along with the likes of Alize Johnson, the Bears landed some talented jUCO transfers for this season.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — From Missouri State to Wichita State, the Illinois State Redbirds have passed every test Missouri Valley Conference play has thrown at them.
But, there are no “gimmes” in “The Valley.”
Thanks to a dominant second-half from senior Deontae Hawkins, Illinois State, without MiKyle McIntosh, subdued Evansville, 69-59. The win flew the Redbirds to 10-0 in conference play, their best MVC start in school history.