NORMAL, Ill. – Colt Ryan scored 19 points and Evansville used a couple of big second-half runs to overtake Illinois State and post a 59-54 victory on Saturday night.
Ryan, the Missouri Valley Conference's freshman of the year last season, made just 6 of 15 shots, but three of them were 3-pointers for the Purple Aces (9-8, 3-4). It was Evansville coach Martin Simmons' first win over Illinois State (8-10, 0-7) in his four seasons there. The Redbirds, who had won the last eight meetings against the Purple Aces, dropped their seventh straight game.
Illinois State stretched its 28-25 halftime lead to 32-25 before Evansville started the first of two dominant stretches. The Purple Aces used a 15-3 run to take a 40-35 lead. After falling behind 46-42, they outscored the Redbirds 12-1 to take a 54-47 lead with 1:02 remaining and held on the rest of the way.
Zeke Upshaw led Illinois State with nine points. John Wilkins and Jon Ekey had eight each.
Kenneth Harris had 11 points for Evansville.