The Indiana State Sycamores stayed perfect in MVC play with a thrilling 62-59 home court victory over visiting Bradley in front of 5,545 fans inside Hulman Center.
The Sycamores won their sixth consecutive game to improve to 13-3, 4-0 MVC. This marks just the third time Indiana State has been 4-0 to begin Missouri Valley play and the first since the 1978-79 campaign. Indiana State also improved to a perfect 6-0 at home and won for the fifth time in a row over Bradley. The 13-3 overall record is also the best start to a season since the 1978-79 team went 16-0 out of the gate. Bradley fell to 6-11, 1-3 MVC.
Jake Odum's 12 points led the Sycamores in the game as he drained eight free throws in the contest. He now has 496 made free throws in his career, which is second-best in the history of the program and is only 47 away from the school record of 542 -- a mark held by Larry Bird. Additionally, Odum now has 1,330 career points scored and moved passed Ray Goddard and into 11th place on the Sycamore scoring chart. Odum is now just 17 points away from the Top 10.
Dawon Cummings added 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Cummings hit his second triple with 1:16 remaining in the contest to stretch the Sycamore lead out to 57-49. Also in double figures was Justin Gant, who scored 11 points.
Lucas Eitel, who earlier in the day attended funeral services for his grandfather Ray Welsh, scored nine points and gave the Sycamores the boost they needed to get over the hump against Bradley. Eitel went 3-of-4 from long range in the contest. His first trey came with 8:38 remaining to get the Sycamores within a point while his second of the half put the Sycamores ahead 47-46 with 5:17 on the clock. Leading by two points, his third 3-pointer after halftime gave the Sycamores a 55-49 advantage with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Sycamores shot just 39.1 percent from the field for the game (18-of-46), but held a 41-40 edge in the rebounding battle. The Sycamores used nine offensive rebounds to tally 13 second chance points. Indiana State committed 14 turnovers in the game and forced nine but they scored 14 points off Bradley miscues while the Braves were able to muster only six points off Sycamore turnovers.
Additionally, the Sycamores improved to 46-4 under fourth-year head coach Greg Lansing when holding teams to 63 points or less and are now 7-0 this season when the Indiana State starters outscore the opposition's starters. The game also marked the 49th close victory (five points or less) for Indiana State since 2005 and the Sycamores are 23-12 in close games under Lansing.
Bradley opened its largest lead of the second half on a lay-up from Tyshon Pickett with 10:08 remaining for a 44-38 advantage. A lay-up from Odum followed by the first trey by Eitel got the Sycamores within 44-43. Odum hit 1-of-2 free throws with 7:24 remaining to knot the score at 44. The 6-0 run was stopped with a jumper from Walt Lemon, Jr., to briefly put the Braves ahead before Eitel's second trey gave ISU a 47-46 advantage at the 5:17 mark.
Bradley countered with a Omari Grier jumper on the next possession, but Devonte Brown came back with a lay-up with 4:42 on the clock to get the Sycamores back out in front 49-48. Pickett would a free throw to level the score at 49, but Gant answered with a long jumper off the feed from Odum with just under four minutes to go for the 51-49 lead.
The game deciding 8-0 run continued with Eitel's third triple and was capped with a huge 3-pointer from the right corner by Dawon Cummings at the 1:16 mark as the Sycamores opened a 57-49 cushion. Lemon, Jr., and Odum traded free throws to keep the advantage at 59-51 before Grier hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to get the Braves within 59-54.
Gant tallied a free throw with 23 seconds left for a 60-54 lead before Lemon hit another 3-pointer as the clock ticked under 15 seconds to make it 60-57. Arop was able to hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds on the clock for a 62-57 lead and Lemon layed in a runner with four seconds remaining to make it 62-59. The Sycamores avoided the defense on their final possession to secure the victory.
Arop opened the scoring with a 3-pointer on the Sycamores' first possession of the game for a quick 3-0 advantage. The Sycamores had an early 6-0 run which was capped by a jumper from Khristian Smith at the 16:33 mark for a 9-4 cushion. A pair of Grier free throws with 12:35 left before halftime got Bradley within 13-12, but the Sycamores scored the game's next six points and held Bradley scoreless for over four minutes of game time as two free throws from Odum made it 19-12 at the 8:30 mark.
The Bradley dry spell ended on a 3-pointer from Grier with 7:59 left before the half to cut the Indiana State lead down to 19-15. A Cummings lay-up with just over three minutes of the clock made it 23-17 before Bradley scored four in a row to make it 23-21. Smith added a lay-up with 34 seconds on the clock for a 25-21 lead. Lemon hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Sycamores clung to a 25-24 halftime advantage.
Lemon, Jr., led the way for Bradley with 22 points while Grier posted 12.
Indiana State will put its perfect 4-0 MVC mark as well its six-game winning streak on the line when they host Missouri State this Wednesday, January 15 inside Hulman Center. The game will tip-off at 7:05 p.m. (ET) and will televised by ESPN3.