NORMAL, Ill. — Malik Yarbrough converted five straight free throws in the final minute to allow Illinois State to hold off a late rally by Northern Iowa, 79-75 in a Missouri Valley Conference clash on Saturday night.
Illinois State entered the game tied with Drake for the No. 3 seed into the conference tournament. The Bulldogs face Missouri State Sunday afternoon. Northern Iowa is in ninth place, a game behind Indiana State.
The Panthers took an 11-point lead into intermission, but the Redbirds hit five consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half and Yarbrough tied the game on a layup with 14:34 left. Isaac Gassman drilled a 3 with 11:50 to go to put Illinois State up for good, 51-49.
Yarbrough finished with 25 points, six boards, nine assists and three steals. Illinois State (15-13, 9-7) knocked down 15 of 27 shots from behind the 3-point arc. William Tinsley was 6 of 9 from deep and finished with 18 points.
Klint Carlson scored 20 points and grabbed nine boards to lead Northern Iowa (13-15, 5-11). Spencer Haldeman added 16 and Tywhon Pkckford added 14 points and eight rebounds.