Illinois State broke open a tight game with a second half sprint as it celebrated the 25th anniversary of Redbird Arena on Saturday with a 59-50 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Loyola-Chicago.
Guard Nick Zeisloft scored 12 points, center Reggie Lynch had 11 and guard Bobby Hunter and forward John Jones each added 10 as the Redbirds (9-7, 2-2) broke away from a 27-27 halftime tie to outscore the Ramblers 32-23 in the second half.
Guard Milton Doyle had a game-high 15 points while guard Jeff White added 12 for Loyola (6-10, 1-3) which has now lost five of its last six games.
It was the Ramblers’ first MVC meeting with the Redbirds. Illinois State now holds an 8-3 all-time series lead, including 4-1 at home in Normal, Ill.
Zeisloft scored his 12 points on four 3-pointers in the first half, while Loyola’s Doyle hit a jumper with six seconds to send both teams into intermission tied at 27.
Illinois State led by as much as 14 points with 23 seconds to go in the second half before Loyola hit five straight points to close.
Saturday’s game marked a quarter century since Redbird Arena’s debut. On Jan. 11, 1989, Illinois State beat Chicago State 71-70 in the first game at the $17.4 million venue. The Redbirds are 269-100 all-time at the arena.
It was also Loyola coach Porter Moser’s first match against his former team. He coached Illinois State between 2003-07.
Loyola returns to action Wednesday against Drake at Gentile Arena while Illinois State hosts Evansville.