Illinois St. 79, American Univ. 77
BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Illinois State led by 24 points with 16 1/2 minutes to play then held off a wild rally by American University of Puerto Rico in a 79-77 victory in the fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Shootout.
The Division II host school went to a full-court press early in the second half and forced Illinois State into 18 second-half turnovers.
The Pirates (1-2) steadily chipped away, getting within 10 with 8:40 left. Alex Falcon and Rafael Diaz combined for three straight field goals to make it 79-77 with 48 seconds left and the Pirates had a chance to win it, but Miguel Davila missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left.
The Redbirds (2-1) used their size advantage to take a 49-34 halftime lead as they had a 21-9 rebounding edge.
American was able to nullify the size with the press.
Kenny Wright led Illinois State with 18 points, while Dan Muller had 15.
Joel Curbelo had 33 points for the Pirates, while Angel Sanchez had 15 and Falcon 13.
Curbelo, who had 47 points in an opening-game loss to No. 13 Louisville, was the eight-team tournament’s leading scorer at 36.3 per game.