Colt Ryan scored 20 points and Evansville turned two big first-half runs into a 79-71 victory over Illinois State on Saturday night.
The Purple Aces (10-9, 5-4 Missouri Valley) had runs of 15-2 and 15-5 to go on top 42-27 at halftime, and increased the lead to 23 points early in the second half.
An 8-0 run by Illinois State (12-8, 4-5) cut the deficit to 55-40, and a 3-pointer by Nic Moore made it 63-51 with 8:58 remaining. The Redbirds rallied within eight points twice down the stretch but could get no closer.
Ned Cox added 16 points, Kenny Harris and Denver Holmes had 14 each, and Troy Taylor finished with 11 for Evansville.
Moore led Illinois State with 17 points, and Tyler Brown had 14.
The teams split the season series after Illinois State won 75-73 in Normal, Ill., on Jan. 7.