Freshman reserve Justin Clark had a career-high 13 points and Dinma Odiakosa had 10 of his 13 points after halftime to lead Illinois State to a come-from-behind, 71-62 victory over visiting Creighton on Wednesday night before 6,288 fans at Redbird Arena.
The rally came after Creighton led 11-0 to start the game and took a 38-28 lead into the halftime break.
Illinois State improved to 14-5 on the season and is now alone in third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 5-3 league record. Creighton had a two-game win streak snapped and is now 9-10 overall and 4-4 in MVC play.
Justin Carter scored on a drive to start the game’s scoring, and CU junior Darryl Ashford drained four consecutive shots to score the next nine points in the opening 3:15 as Creighton surged to a quick 11-0 lead over the Redbirds. The ‘Birds would score the next five points before two free throws from Casey Harriman and two inside hoops from Kenny Lawson Jr. gave CU its biggest lead of the game at 17-5.
Creighton would go on a drought of 6:15 as ISU answered with a 10-0 run to get back within two points. Preseason Valley Player of the Year Osiris Eldridge had seven of those points, while reserve Tony Lewis poured in the other three points.
ISU remained close until the Bluejays got a lift from Ethan Wragge to close the first half. Wragge drained back-to-back triples to help Creighton end the half on a 12-4 run and take a 38-28 halftime lead.
Eldridge and Clark led ISU with seven points at the half, while CU was paced by the nine early scores from Ashford.
Illinois State scored on its first five possessions of the second half and forced a pair of Bluejay turnovers to close within two points at 41-39. Seniors Eldridge (2) and Odiakosa (6) scored eight of those 10 points. Eldridge would drain his third three-pointer of the game from the left corner to get ISU within two points at the first media timeout of the second half. Illinois State would then take its first lead of the game at the 13:50 mark of the second half when Clark drained a corner three-pointer to put ISU up 45-44.
Clark would hit his third three-pointer of the night, and fifth of the season, when he buried a trey with 9:02 left to cap an 8-0 run and give ISU its largest lead to that point, 55-49.
Creighton trailed 59-51 with five minutes left before Casey Harriman knocked down a three-pointer on CU’s third shot of the possession. That was just CU’s second field goal in an 11 minute-span, and helped force a Redbird timeout.
After a defensive stop, CU made it a three-point game when Wayne Runnels threw in an offensive puback with 3:52 to go. ISU’s Lloyd Phillips answered with a floater in traffic and Lewis then scored inside as ISU’s returned to seven. CU’s Cavel Witter then drained a trifecta with 2:35 left, getting the Bluejays back within 63-59, but the Jays would not score again until 22.5 seconds remained.
Odiakosa, Alex Rubin and Eldridge would combine to score ISU’s final eight points at the line to give ISU the 12-point lead. Antoine Young scored the game’s final points on a three-point play with 22.5 ticks remaining.
Creighton was led by 11 points from Ashford and Lawson. The Bluejays shot 39.3 percent from the field (22-56), 24.0 from three-point land (6-25) and 60 percent at the stripe (12-20).
Illinois State was led by 17 points from Eldridge 13 from both Odiakosa and Clark, while Lewis and Phillips scored 12. Odiakosa added 11 rebounds and career-high-tying three steals. The Redbirds shot 44.4 percent from the field (24-54), 8-of-18 from three-point land (44.4 percent) and 55.6 percent at the stripe (15-27).
Creighton returns to action on Sunday when it hosts Missouri State in a 7 pm game.