ESTERO, Fla. – Cameron Henry and Xavier Bledson combined for 44 points Wednesday night as the Sycamores hit back and defeated Drexel (85-81) at Hertz Arena to take third place in the 2022 Gulf Coast Showcase with a record 201 in the tournament.
Henry hit his first double-double of the year with a season-high 22 points and a team-high 10 boards, while Bledson hit a career-high Division I with 22 points off the bench.
student in the first year Robbie Avila played over 25 minutes and shot 4-of-5 from the field with three triples for a career-high 11 points.
There were 11 lead changes in the first half of the game, but after Henry’s And-1 at 5:30 in the opening frame, the Sycamores (5-1) would never fall behind again.
After Indiana State was behind 16-14 on the first media timeout, Bledson checked in and immediately began lighting it. With 7:11 left, he fouled a hook shot and saved his free throw to put the Sycamores 27:26 ahead. He hit another bucket less than a minute later and then sent a no-look behind-the-head pass to Henry, who was coming in from the back door, and Henry put it up while drawing a foul to give the lead for ISU win back, 32-30, with 5:30 left at the half.
Avila drilled his second triple of the night at 1:52 to push the ISU lead to 37-32, and Bledson fired one from the deep on the buzzer to send the Sycamores 40-35 at the break.
The Sycamores came out in the second half and made their first four attempts of the frame, including a pair of threes. Avila swiped a pass to set Henry up for a layup in the first minute before slamming down his third three of the night to put the Sycamores eight points ahead 45-37 with 18:35 to go.
Drexel came back to five points at ISU, but Bledson responded with another and-1 to bring the lead back to eight, and then Cooper Neese knocked down his first three of the game at 12:00 to make it 62-54 Sycamores. The Dragons threatened again, cutting their deficit by 7:51 to three points, but ISU countered that with a three-point playoff and an and-1 for Henry, followed by a huge triple of Trenton Gibson at 6:12 to put the Sycamores at 70-63.
Henry gave the Sycamores their biggest lead of the night at 2:59 when he swiped a pass and set up the transition basket for the 81-71 lead, and Gibson threw two crucial free throws with 18 seconds on the clock making it 85-75 and give some scope for a pair of Drexel threes in the final five seconds.
In the numbers
- Indiana State started the game 0-6 from three and didn’t hit a three until 7:47 of the first half. ISU then shot down 3-of-4 the rest of the half with a pair of Treys Robbie Avila.
- The Sycamores passed the Dragons 55.2 percent to 52.6 percent from the field, but the Dragons shot 52.4 percent from three compared to the ISU’s 30.4 percent.
- ISU won the battle on the boards, overtaking Drexel 33-27.
- All five of Drexel’s starters scored double digits, and the ISU bench proved the difference between Bledson’s 22 points and Avila’s 11 points.
- The Sycamores gave out 15 assists and only made 11 turnovers.
Messages & Notes
- The Sycamores improved to 37-43 in MTEs in Wednesday night’s DI era.
- Cameron Henrys Double-double was his first of the season and fourth in a Sycamore uniform. He shot 9-of-12 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity streak, along with a season-high and six assists as a team-high.
- Xavier Bledson was 5-to-5 from the free-throw line and 8-to-14 from the field for his career-high 22 points.
- On Wednesday, the ISU let two players score 20 or more points in a game for the first time since February 17, 2021 against Evansville.
- Robbie Avila was 3 of 4 beyond the arc for a career-high 11 points alongside a career-high four rebounds.
- Bledson was named to the All-Tournament for leading the Sycamores in scoring, averaging 15.7 points in all three games. He also averaged 3.0 rebounds per game and dished out six assists with two steals.
The Sycamores return home to host Trinity Christian Sunday, November 27, at the Hulman Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m
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