Overtime thriller: Sycamores skate by Braves for season sweep

Jan. 27—Jayson Kent delivered the points that extended Indiana State men's basketball game with Bradley in Missouri Valley Conference play Saturday.

With less than 30 seconds left and trailing by two points, the junior was being shielded by senior forward Darius Hannah in the corner when junior Isaiah Swope got airborne and hung in the air when he tried to float a pass to Kent in the corner.

Hannah got a handful of the basketball and was in a position to record a theft. Kent started his movement around him, retrieved the deflected basketball and took it in stride to the lane and was fouled going up.

He sank both free throws to tie it at 78 and Indiana State outscored Bradley 17-8 in overtime to secure a 95-86 win.

"It's tough. I put myself in a tough situation," Swope said. "Kent came through and hit two big free throws. He played great throughout the whole game. He bailed us out ... bailed me out on that play. I got caught in the air, a tough play. But like I said, we are a tough team and we pick each other up."

ISU (18-3, 9-1) posted a season sweep of Bradley in front of its largest crowd of the season at Hulman Center — 8,223.

Swope scored seven of his 19 points in the extra frame. He began that frame by poking the ball away from guard Connor Hickman, from behind, and it bounced into the hand of junior Julian Larry.

It came on the heels of Larry nearly knocking out Bradley in regulation final possession after he hounded Hickman with a foul to give with less than 10 seconds at midcourt and he nearly got a breakaway winner.

With 3:34 remaining in overtime, a stepback left-wing trey by Swope made it 83-78.

Bradley guard Duke Deen hit two free throws and drilled a 3, from deep, straightaway after an ISU turnover to tie the game.

ISU coach Josh Schertz compared Deen to Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard for his shot-making and off-balance makes in this spectacle. He had a game-best 31 points and made 6 of 9 3s, including catching fire with five straight baskets, among them three triples four minutes into the closing half.

But ISU answered the challenge against the deep shooter to close overtime.

With 2:33 left, Swope drove and kicked to senior Xavier Bledson, who made the extra pass to sophomore Robbie Avila on his left for a triple.

Thirty-nine seconds later, Swope pushed the action up the floor to the right side and set the table for Bledson to pour in his opening bucket and second look of the game.

"He has to come off the bench, but he stayed engaged because he stayed invested and he's ready to go," Schertz said. "He makes the biggest shot of the game on that right wing."

BU forward Malevy Leons hit a 3 to trim the margin in half and before Swope's teardrop in the lane with 1:10 left put the game away against the Braves (15-6, 7-3).

After ISU got a stop as Hickman's 3 rimmed out, Swope got downhill for a transition layup to ice the result.

In the waning minutes of the regulation, Leons had a jump stop in the lane to tie the score.

Swope found Avila rolling to the basket as they looked for a quick strike but the ball bounced away as Avila dribbled off a BU player in traffic. It was just the sixth turnover, which matched the Sycamores' season low against Missouri State. It came after ISU had two errors in the first 2 1/2 minutes against the Braves.

Hannah got out front for a dunk to go up 78-76 — its first go-ahead bucket since 60-58 on Deen's jumper with 11:42 left.

Conwell converted a pair of four-point plays in each half. He finished with 22 points.

Every Sycamore starter scored in double figures. Avila had 18 points and Larry had 14 and six assists.

Regulation for ISU began with two points on a putback from Kent on Avila's missed 3. He provided two more with game-tying free throws to notch the bookend points.

Kent finished with 17 points and a career-high 16 boards for another double-double against his former college basketball school. At one point, he posterized the reigning Defensive Player of The Year in the MVC, Leons, with a dunk in one of several plays that ignited a packed Hulman Center.

"The atmosphere was amazing," Kent said. "Shout out to the fans. They helped us through the win. Without them, it would be a different game. The fans are credited [with] this win. Their energy and vibe the whole game was amazing."

ISU (18-3, 9-1) will visit Belmont on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup, while Bradley (15-6, 7-3) will host Northern Iowa that same night.

Indiana State, which extended its MVC lead over the Braves to two games, has a head-to-head tiebreaker in its pocket.