NORMAL, Ill. - A last-second three-point shot by Southern Illinois forced overtime against Illinois State Sunday on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena, but the Redbirds (7-15, 6-6 MVC) out-scored the Salukis (4-20, 2-11 MVC) in the extra period to come away with a 68-63 victory in the annual Play 4 Kay game.
Senior Chloe Nelson hit big shots down the stretch and in the overtime session to lead the Redbirds with 18 points. Freshman Kayln Gebhardt set a career-best with 11 points and added five rebounds and Zenobia Bess finished with nine points and five rebounds.
Illinois State jumped out to an early four-point lead, as Nelson had the seven of ISU's first 12 points, before the Salukis battled back to take a one-point lead, 13-12, eight minutes into the game. The two teams traded points before the Salukis were scoreless for six minutes.
Illinois State was scoreless for over three minutes until five-straight free throws increased the Redbirds' lead to seven, 22-15, with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Then, the two teams traded baskets to end the half, but four-straight points by the Redbirds sent Illinois State into the locker room with a seven-point advantage, 28-21, its largest of the half.
At the half, Nelson led all players with nine points, eight other Redbirds also scored in the first half. ISU shot 31 percent from the field in the opening half, while SIU connected on 28 percent of its shot attempts. On the boards, five Redbirds pulled down three rebounds, while nine players grabbed rebounds in the opening half. Illinois State had the advantage on the boards with 23, six more than Southern Illinois. Illinois State also had six steals and four blocks in the first 20 minutes.
The Salukis scored six-straight points to get within one, 28-27, to open the second half. ISU went without a basket for nearly four minutes, until Katy Winge recorded a steal followed by a fast-break layup. Gebhardt scored seven-straight points, including an and-one play. Then, a layup by Octavia Crump made ISU's run 9-0, 39-32, forcing a SIU timeout with 12:28 to play in the game.
The Redbirds kept the offensive momentum going, as they went on a 12-2 run, including threes from Mackenzie Freeman and Winge, forcing a Saluki timeout, 51-36, with 7:24 left to play. The 15-point advantage was the largest for the Redbirds in the game. The advantage shifted to SIU's favor, as the Salukis scored 14-straight points, cutting the lead down to one with 3:44 left to play, 51-50.
Southern Illinois took the lead, 54-53, with 1:15 to play, but Illinois State wasn't done yet. With a minute to play, Winge tied the game with a free throw and back-to-back jumpers by Nelson gave the lead back to ISU, 58-56, with 15.8 seconds left in the game. Nelson completed the and-one play, 59-56, with a free throw, but an off-balanced three by the Salukis forced the game into overtime.
The two teams traded baskets through the first four minutes of overtime, until ISU took a four-point lead, 67-63, with a minute to play. Both Nelson and Bess scored four points during the extra time and SIU couldn't overcome the deficit, as ISU won the game, 68-63.