Ray Giacoletti

Ray Giacoletti

A three pointer by Tony Willis with 1:22 remaining gave Illinois State the lead for good as the Redbirds rallied past Drake 67-62 in Missouri Valley Conference play Sunday in Des Moines. It was a game the Bulldogs led by 12 points early in the second half before stumbling.

“The biggest difference today is we were able to get off to a good start and dictate that first half,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “We talked about how important it was to get off to a good start in the second half and they [ISU] were able to get off to the good start. They got some energy and some confidence and we had a fight on our hands. I thought our group did a good job at making our run then, and it became a game of possessions. You’ve got to be able to make the stops, and we could not find a way.”

DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell led Illinois State with a career-high 28 points as the Redbirds improve to 8-7 overall and 2-0 in the Valley. Reed Timmer had 16 points and Graham Woodward added 15 as the Bulldogs fall to 0-2 in the Valley and 5-8 overall.