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Wednesday, Jan. 10

Dyer and Eldridge stun UNI as 'Birds pick up first Valley win in OT          Send a link to a friend

[JAN. 10, 2007]  NORMAL -- Junior Levi Dyer poured in a career-high 20 points and freshman Osiris Eldridge tossed in an additional 18 as the pair led the Illinois State men's basketball team to a 67-64 overtime win over Northern Iowa on Tuesday night at Redbird Arena. The Missouri Valley Conference victory was the first of the season for the 'Birds. UNI was previously undefeated in Valley play.

With the win, Illinois State improves to 9-7 overall, 1-4 in Valley action. UNI moves to 13-3, 4-1 in the conference. The Panthers were led by Eric Coleman and Brooks McKowen, both with 12 points.

Leading to a halftime tie, the first half between the Redbirds and the Panthers couldn't have been more evenly matched. Northern Iowa took an early 4-0 lead at 18:05, but Illinois State answered with a jumper from Eldridge and a trey from Dyer to take a 5-4 advantage at the 16:34 mark. The teams traded baskets for eight minutes until UNI took a four-point lead, the largest by either team in the first period, with 8:32 to play in the half, making it 18-14, courtesy of a Adam Viet 3-pointer.

Hitting three straight jumpers, the last in the paint by freshman Bobby Hill, who finished the game with a career-high six points, ISU answered to retake the lead at 20-18. A Dom Johnson layup at the 2:29 mark put 'Birds up by a single point, but Panther center Jordan Eglseder drained a free throw with 57 seconds left to knot the score at 25 going into intermission.

Northern Iowa took a 29-25 lead just over two minutes into the second half, scoring on consecutive offensive possessions. But the Redbirds responded with a Greg Dilligard layup on a quick pass from Boo Richardson and a fast-break Eldridge layup to tie the game with 17:07 to play.

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Dyer then scored the next eight points for Illinois State, burying two shots from the charity stripe and a pair of 3-pointers. The 'Birds led by as many as five in the stretch, at 40-35, as the second media timeout of the half was called. The Panthers' Coleman tied the game at 43 on a put-back. But Dyer ran the length of the floor and drained his fourth trey of the game from the top of the key to give the Redbirds a 46-43 advantage.

The teams traded buckets for almost six minutes before Dilligard blocked a layup on a Northern Iowa fast break at the 1:04 mark and Richardson drove the basket for an open layup on the ensuing out-of-bounds play to put Illinois State up by one, 57-56. After being fouled with just seconds remaining, Dyer connected on a pair of free throws to give ISU a three-point, 59-56 lead. But a running 3-pointer by McKowen at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

In the extra five-minute period, ISU's Johnson was fouled on a driving layup that fell with 3:41 left to play. Johnson hit the ensuing free throw, putting the 'Birds up 62-59. Eldridge took over from there, scoring five of the Redbirds' eight points in the overtime to secure the ISU win, 67-64.

The Redbirds travel to Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, for a 3:05 p.m. Missouri Valley Conference contest with Drake at the Knapp Center.

[News release from Kristen Greenstreet, Illinois State University]



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