Late Run Helps No. 2 Wichita Escape With 84-68 Win Over Aces
February 17, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
EVANSVILLE PRESS RELEASE
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – No. 2 Wichita State finished on a 19-8 run as they finished with an 84-68 victory over the University of Evansville men's basketball team on Sunday afternoon at the Ford Center.
The Aces (11-16, 4-10 MVC) cut what was a once double-digit lead to just five points with five minutes remaining before the Shockers (27-0, 14-0 MVC) finished on the late run.
D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius each finished with 19 points to lead the offense for UE. Balentine hit 5 of his 17 shots while dishing out four assists while Mockevicius went a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor while hitting all five free throws. He also finished with 10 caroms to earn his sixth double-double of the season.
Balentine gave Evansville its first lead of the day as he hit an early triple to give UE a 3-2 lead. Later, Mockevicius converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play as the Aces took an 8-5 advantage.
With Evansville up 10-8, Wichita State made its first run of the afternoon, scoring seven in a row, led by a Fred VanVleet triple. VanVleet scored five of those seven tallies as the Shocker defense forced a pair of UE misses and three turnovers to take a 15-10 lead.
Just as fast as the Shockers built the advantage, Evansville came right back. Jaylon Brown hit a jumper just inside the stripe before Blake Simmons knocked down his first triple of the game as UE tied it back up. Inside of the 11-minute mark, Jaylon Moore made back-to-back buckets as the Aces retook the lead at 21-20.
Ron Baker, who hit 5 of his first 7 shots, scored five in a row just past the midway point of the opening half as the momentum swayed back in favor of Wichita State. A 12-2 run saw the Shockers take their largest lead of the first half at 32-23. With their deficit threatening to reach double figures, the Aces made a stand, scoring seven of the next nine to get within four points at 36-32 inside of two minutes remaining in the period.
Wichita added a late bucket as they took a 38-32 edge into the half. The main disparity in the game in the opening frame was turnovers and points off of them. UE committed nine turnovers, which led to 15 Shocker tallies. Baker finished with 15 in the half while Balentine was UE's top scorer with ten.
Out of the break, Wichita matched its largest lead of nine points as Tekele Cotton knocked down a trey on the opening possession before Simmons got it right back with his second long ball of the afternoon. After UE cut the gap to six, WSU reeled off the next eight points to take a 49-35 edge. The Shockers started the half 4-5 from the field while the Aces were 1-4 with a pair of turnovers in the opening four minutes.
At that point, it was the Mockevicius show as the sophomore scored eight points in a row for UE as they cut the lead down to just six thanks to a 10-2 run. Cleanthony Early ended the stretch at the midway point of the half with his first long ball on his third try as that shot put the Shockers up 60-51. The Aces continued to show strong fight as they closed the gap even more as they hit 6 out of 8 shots at one point as part of a 19-10 run as the Shocker lead stood at 65-60 inside of five minutes remaining.
Despite the rally, the Shockers were able to pad their lead as Baker posted nine WSU tallies in a row. Over the final 6:10 of the game, the Shockers outscored the Aces by a 19-8 margin to escape with an 84-68 victory.
Baker led all players with 26 points as he hit 10 of his 17 attempts while registering five steals. VanVleet was the second of four Shockers to post double figures as he totaled 18.
Evansville finished with a 28-26 edge in rebounding while also outshooting the Shockers by a 51-1%-49.1% margin.
Next up for UE is a quick trip up Route 41 to Terre Haute as the Aces face Indiana State. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET at the Hulman Center. Next Saturday, UE returns home to face Southern Illinois at 7:05 p.m.