NORMAL - Doug Collins was about to address Illinois State's basketball team before Saturday night's game. His message?
"I know how excited you are to play," Collins said he would tell the Redbirds. "Make sure you use that energy in a positive way."
The Redbirds did just that, zipping out to a 10-0 lead. The dedication of "Doug Collins Court" was off to a flying start, and the greatest player in ISU history was loving it.
Bradley made sure it didn't last.
The Braves withstood ISU's initial surge and tied the game by midway through the first half. Reserve Danny Adams scored all 14 of his points in the second half, sinking several clutch shots, as Bradley beat arch-rival ISU 70-62 in a Missouri Valley Conference game before a Redbird Arena crowd of 9,294.
"That's my job and role on the team to come in and knock down shots," said Adams. "My teammates were good enough to get me open and find me when I was open. I have to knock those down."
Dom Johnson scored 14 points to pace four ISU players in double figures. Levi Dyer added 13, while Boo Richardson had 12 and Greg Dilligard 11.
ISU fell to 12-12 overall and 4-9 in the Valley with its fifth straight loss to the Braves.
ISU now goes on a three-game road swing, beginning with an 8:05 p.m. game Tuesday against Missouri State at Springfield, Mo.
The Redbirds remembered the 88-67 whipping Bradley put on them just 10 days ago in Peoria and knew what they had to do to keep up with the Valley's highest scoring team.
"They can score fast. I thought we had to score 70 to put ourselves in a position to win with the way they score and move it and shoot it," said ISU coach Porter Moser. "I anticipated us guarding them better (than in Peoria). We scrambled better."
Zach Andrews and Will Franklin scored 15 points each to pace Bradley (16-9, 7-6).
Bradley, which led 34-30 at halftime, upped the margin to 43-36 early in the second half before ISU rallied. Johnson, who attended his grandfather's funeral in Missouri earlier in the day, capped a 9-0 by sinking a 3-pointer to givethe Redbirds a 45-43 with 12:25 left.
The lead lasted all of 23 seconds.
Andrews' reverse layup tied the game and Matt Salley's layup on a give-and-go with Daniel Ruffin put the Braves in front 47-45. Then Adams, a senior from Metamora, took over.
Adams sank two 3-pointers to extend the lead to 53-46. Each time ISU crept closer, Adams was ready. Another 3-pointer gave Bradley a 58-50 lead with 6:30 left.
ISU closed within 60-55 on Dyer's 3-pointer. With the shot clock winding down, Adams got the ball with 6-foot-7 Anthony Slack bearing down on him. Adams launched a long, arching 3-pointer that\ swished for a 63-55 lead with 3:01 left and took the air out of the Redbirds.
"I didn't know if it was ever coming down. I'm glad it did," said Adams. "Danny is our energizer off the bench," said Bradley coach Jim Les. "You talk about the shots he made and they were big, but he also made some big defensive plays and came up with some loose balls and rebounds that were equally big."
Dilligard, who grabbed 10 rebounds to post his fourth double-double of the season, knew letting Bradley get back in the game so quickly after ISU's fast start hurt the Redbirds.
"Some of our guys got a little tired and let up a little bit," he said. "That's something you can't do if it's a big rivalry. You cannot anyone the slightest chance because they're going to take advantage of it."
The "Doug Collins Court" logos were officially unveiled about 10 minutes before the game. Les figured the Redbirds were "going to come out with great energy and enthusiasm."
"We talked about weathering the storm by continuing to make it tough for them on the offensive end," added Les. "We were rushed early on. We helped and fueled that run by taking some quick shots and trying to get it back on one play."
The Braves shot only 37.1 percent in the first half, while ISU made 44.4 percent. But Bradley took 17 more shots and had only two turnovers while grabbing a 22-17 rebounding advantage.
No one in the building, including Collins, had more emotion going for him than Johnson. The junior guard didn't start, but scored in double figures for the first time since Jan. 6 against Indiana State.
"I remembered what my grandfather told me before he passed to take care of myself and take care of my business," said Johnson. "That's something I brought into the game to make sure I was doing the right things and being on point."
ISU shot 47.7 percent (21 of 44) from the field, but went 12-of-22 at the free throw line. Bradley shot 56.5 percent in the second half to finish at 44.8 percent (26 of 58). While ISU did a better job keeping Ruffin in check with six points, the other veterans who helped Bradley advance to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen last season were ready for the challenge.
"The three seniors really stepped up in a rivalry game," said Moser of Adams, Franklin and Andrews. "You have to tip your hat to that. There's a fine line in a close game with separation. It's close, and Adams hit a couple daggers. That was the separation."
Slack went down with 1:35 left and was withering in pain on the floor. He suffered a sprained ankle and is listed as day-to-day by ISU trainer John Munn.
FRONT COURT - C: Greg Dilligard made all five of his shots, yet the Redbirds weren't fully able to exploit their size advantage in the low post when Bradley used four guards.
BACK COURT - C: Dom Johnson and Boo Richardson hit some outside shots, but Osiris Eldridge went 0-of-5 from the field.
BENCH - C: Johnson gave the Redbirds a nice lift. The Redbirds needed others to do the same.
OVERALL - C: A great start was wasted. Now, a three-game road swing awaits.
Compiled by Jim Benson