Sycamores slam the door on Minnesota in NIT win

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Sycamores slam the door on Minnesota in NIT win

Photo by Travis David | Julian Larry hangs on the rim after flushing down a dunk in the first half Sunday. Larry finished with 16 points in Indiana State's win over Minnesota in the second round of the men's NIT.
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TERRE HAUTE — In their past two games, the Indiana State men’s basketball team fell behind by double digits.


Such would not be the case Sunday afternoon. 


The Sycamores led wire-to-wire in a 76-64 win over Minnesota in the second round of the NIT.


With the win, ISU improved to 30-6 on the season and advance to Tuesday night’s quarterfinal round against Cincinnati.


The Sycamores built an 18-point advantage in the first half before carrying a 38-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.


Ryan Conwell was fouled a made 3-pointer with just under 15 minutes left in the second half. Conwell sank the free throw to complete the 4-point play, giving the Sycamores a 52-38 lead. 


But just like ISU had done in its previous two games, the Gophers mounted a comeback.


Minnesota went on a 12-0 run to trim the lead down to just two points with 11:47 remaining on the game clock.


Instead of calling a timeout to get his team to regroup, ISU coach Josh Schetz decided to let his time work out the adversity.


Julian Larry rewarded his coach.


The shifty guard used his quickness to get to the rim for an easy layup. The play sparked a 14-2 run and the Sycamores never looked back.


“I was on the fence about calling one (timeout) there,” Schertz admitted. “If they had tied it I would have, but heading down the stretch I wanted to keep the timeouts if I could if we needed them.
“I have faith in those guys. I trust their maturity and their ability to see what the defense is doing … Julian gets to the basket there, we get a stop and hit two free throws and it just kind of resettled ourselves.”


Larry had a highlight-reel type of dunk in the first half and used the same ability to slash his way through the Gophers’ defense throughout most of the game. The guard finished with 16 points.


“There’s nobody in the country faster than him from endline to endline than Julian Larry,” Schertz said of his guard. “There’s nobody that can dictate the pace of the game like he does and he was fantastic at doing that again tonight.”


Minnesota trimmed the Sycamores’ lead to single digits twice in the final seven minutes of the game, but both times Larry answered back with a drive.


Photo by Travis David |
ISU’s Ryan Conwell celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer in the first half of Sunday’s NIT game against Minnesota. Conwell hit six 3-pointers and a game-high 23 points in the Sycamores’ win.


Conwell and Robbie Avila joined Larry in double figures in the win. Conwell splashed six 3-pointers in part of his game-high 23 points, while Avila finished with 11 points and seven assists.


“I feel like every game that I trust my shot and feel like every shot has a chance to go in,” Conwell said of his big game. “But all the credit goes to my teammates and coach Schertz for putting me in the right positions to get those open shots. Without them, I don’t hit those shots. Other than that, just trusting my shot.”


Minnesota had four players land in double figures, led by Pharrel Payne’s 16 points.


With Sunday’s win, the Sycamores reached the 30-win plateau for just the second time in program history, joining the famous 1979 team which was led by Larry Bird.


“It’s a blessing to be just the second team,” Jayson Kent said of the 30 wins. “These wins are not just for us, they are for the community. What they do for us is just as important as what we do out there on the court. So these 30 wins are for them.”


Up next for the Sycamores will be Cincinnati.


The Bearcats knocked off the Sycamores’ Missouri Valley Conference rival Bradley in the second round on Saturday, 74-57.


Cincinnati brings a 22-14 record into Tuesday night’s quarterfinal matchup inside the Hulman Center.


“I am proud of this team and the best part of this win is we get to play again on Tuesday night,” Sycamores’ coach Josh Schertz said.


Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN and tipoff will be slated at 9 p.m.


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