- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Deontae Hawkins made a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points to lead Illinois State to an 85-71 victory over UC Irvine in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.

Top-seeded Illinois State (28-6) bounced back from a loss to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game, and will play No. 4 seed Central Florida (22-11) in the second round.

Hawkins was 8 of 11 from the floor and made all six 3-point attempts. MiKyle McIntosh and Paris Lee added 13 points apiece for the Redbirds, who shot 52.5 percent (32 of 61) from the field and 13 of 25 (52 percent) from long range, and had a season-high 22 assists.

Jaron Martin scored 24 points and Luke Nelson had 17 to lead UC Irvine (21-15).

The Redbirds had a double-digit lead for most of the second half. A 12-3 run pulled UC Irvine to 61-55 but the Anteaters didn’t get closer.

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