Late Run Helps Aces Down Bradley, 66-60
January 26, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A 15-10 run over the final 6:23 of play saw the University of Evansville men's basketball team earn a 66-60 victory over Bradley on Sunday afternoon at the Ford Center.
Evansville (10-11, 3-5 MVC) led by as many as 13 in the second half before Bradley (8-13, 3-5 MVC) held the Purple Aces without a field goal for over eight minutes. Solid free throw shooting down the stretch helped seal the win as the Aces knocked down their final eight over the last 7:16 of the contest.
Once again it was sophomore D.J. Balentine pacing UE, scoring a game-high 24 points as he downed all 12 of his free throw attempts. Egidijus Mockevicius has his top offensive game of conference play, recording 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and a 5/6 day from the charity stripe. He along with David Howard tied for the team lead with six rebounds.
In the opening minutes of the contest, Evansville had the upper hand, posting 10 of the first 14 points hitting three of its first seven attempts to take a 10-4 lead five minutes in. The lead would grow from there as D.J. Balentine hit his stride, scoring seven points in a row as UE opened up a 23-10 lead with 8:23 remaining in the half. His first shot extended the lead into double figures before the first triple of the contest capped off the run.
Over the next four minutes, it was the Braves who rallied, outscoring UE by an 8-2 margin to get within seven tallies at 25-18. The Aces were held to 0-2 with a pair of turnovers over that stretch before Duane Gibson hit a free throw to end the run at the 3:49 mark.
After an Xzavier Taylor layup with 3:17 left, the Braves were held scoreless over the remainder of the period as Evansville took a 30-20 lead into halftime. Bradley missed its final three shots of the half while turning the ball over twice.
A 4-for-5 start from the floor helped Evansville match its largest lead at 41-28 as the second half got underway. The double figures lead held strong despite Bradley hauling in eight offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes of the second half. The Braves hit five of their first 15 shots in the frame.
In the same fashion they did in the first half, the Braves shot their way back into it in the second. An 11-3 stretch that featured an Omari Grier trey cut the gap to just five at 44-39. Later, that run turned into a 22-10 rally as the Braves cut the gap to just one tally at 51-50 inside of seven minutes remaining. Capping off that run was Austin Barnes, who drained back-to-back treys off of assists from Walt Lemon Jr.
The only points for UE over that run came from the charity stripe until Jaylon Brown halted it by utilizing his athleticism. He created a shot through the Bradley defenders with 6:23 left to give the Aces their first basket since the 13:57 mark.
That would be the closest Bradley would get over the remainder of the game as Evansville hit its final eight free throws down the stretch to seal the 66-60 victory.
Four Braves found their way into double figures, led by Lemon, who posted 14 points and 6 assists. Tyshon Pickett had 13 while Auston Barnes and Omari Grier posted 11 and 10, respectively. Bradley accumulated 15 more attempts in the game thanks to 12 offensive boards, ten of which came in the second period of play.
A pair of road contests await the Aces over the next week as the squad begins the road stretch at UNI on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. game set to be on ESPN3. From there, the crew heads to Wichita State to face the Shockers in a nationally televised game on ESPNU at 4 p.m. Saturday.