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College Sports

Big Four men’s hoops struggle on New Years Eve

Cyclones, Panthers, Bulldogs all lose

AMES (AP) — Rod Melton Jr. scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, D.J. Jones added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Florida A&M beat Iowa State 70-68 on Tuesday night.

Melton made 9-of-13 from the field, and Jones finished with seven rebounds and two blocks. M.J. Randolph had 13 points and Kamron Reaves scored 10 for Florida A&M.

The Rattlers (2-9) have won back-to-back games after opening the season with nine consecutive losses.

Iowa State (7-5) led by as many as 13 points in the first half and took a 36-24 lead when Rasir Bolton hit a 3-pointer 22 seconds after halftime.

Melton scored six points during a 13-2 run that gave FAMU a 44-42 lead with 12 minutes to play.

Bolton made another trey before George Conditt hit two free throws to give Cyclones a one-point lead with 48 seconds remaining, but Melton made a jumper and, after an Iowa State turnover, Randolph made 1-of-2 free throws to seal it.

Bolton finished with a career-high 29 points, including 23 in the second half, for Iowa State.

Conditt scored 12 points and Terrence Lewis had 10 points and eight rebounds.

After missing seven of their first nine from the field, the Cyclones hit 11 of their next 16 as they turned a four-point deficit into a 32-20 lead after Bolton made a layup with 4:31 left in the first half.

But Iowa State went cold once again, hitting just four of their next 18 as the Rattlers caught fire and took control of the game.

The Cyclones were without leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton (17.3 points per game). The sophomore guard, who leads the Big 12 in assists (7.7) and steals (2.6) per game, missed the game due to a wrist injury suffered in practice and is expected to play in the Big 12 opener on Saturday.

According to reports, Halliburton’s absence was “primarily precautionary, against a team that’s 1-9 and hasn’t played a home game yet this season.”

Bradley 80, Drake 72

PEORIA, Illinois — The Drake University men’s basketball team opened up the Missouri Valley Conference season with an 80-72 loss in a game that neither team led by more than three possessions at any point.

The thrilling start to league play saw the lead swap hands 15 times with nine ties before Bradley took the lead for good in the final three minutes.

D.J. Wilkins put the Bulldogs up 69-68 with 3:15 left, but Bradley reclaimed the lead for the final time with eight straight points as part of a 12-3 run to close the game. 

“In the critical balance in the second half, Bradley made some big plays and came up with a couple of big loose balls,” Drake head coach Darian DeVries said. “It came right down to the wire, and unfortunately we weren’t able to make some big plays down the stretch.”

Drake (10-4, 0-1 MVC) was led by Liam Robbins’ 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting. 

Roman Penn added his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 12 assists. His passing helped the Bulldogs shoot 52 percent in the second half, but untimely miscues allowed Bradley (10-4, 1-0 MVC) to defend its home court.

“Every game in this league comes down to a handful of possessions,” DeVries said. “If you’re going to win on the road, you have to come up with those and find a way to make those plays.”

The Braves were paced by 19 points and eight assists from Darrell Brown and 16 points and nine rebounds from Nate Kennell. 

Facing a halftime deficit, The Bulldogs blitzed the Braves to start the second half with nine straight points, six of them from Robbins to take a 46-41 lead four minutes into the period. But nearly two scoreless minutes followed for the Bulldogs as Bradley retook the lead at 51-49. Five more lead changes ensued before Bradley rallied back for the final time to dispatch the Bulldogs.

In the first half, Jonah Jackson made a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minutes to briefly give Drake the lead before Bradley reeled off a 9-2 run to take an 18-13 lead midway through the first half. Those 3-pointers were part of a 15-point night for Jackson on a 5-of-12 night from the arc for his second-highest output as a Bulldog.

Drake erased that early deficit to take a 34-33 lead on a Noah Thomas 3-pointer with 1:42 left in the period.

A wild 90 seconds followed as Bradley scored eight straight points before Antonio Pilipovich hit a 3-pointer as time expired to pull the Bulldogs within four points, 41-37, at halftime and set up the entertaining second half.

Newton native Garrett Sturtz had one point, one assist, one steal and three rebounds in 13 minutes for Drake.

Illinois State 76,

Northern Iowa 70

NORMAL, Illinois — Northern Iowa kicked off MVC basketball play on Tuesday, falling to Illinois State 76-70 to move to 11-2 overall and 0-1 in the MVC.

The Panthers led for more than 17 minutes in the first half.

A.J. Green scored the Panthers first five points before climbing out to a 15-point lead.

Green would end the first half with 10 points while Noah Carter finished with eight, going 3-of-4 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the 3-point arc.

UNI hauled in 21 rebounds including four offensive rebounds in the first half while holding the Redbirds to 10. The Panthers turned the ball over 10 times and the Redbirds turned it over only seven times. Collectively, the Panthers shot 52 percent from the field.

The Panthers shot 44 percent from the field in the second half but was only 4-of-13 from 3-point range.

UNI led by as much as 15 points in the game, and held the lead for more than 23 minutes.

The Redbirds took the lead with 13:28 remaining in the second half and managed to hold the lead for 8 minutes before Tywhon Pickford made a free throw to tie the game with 5:52 remaining.

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