Simmons Wins 100th At UE As Aces Top Drake, 61-48
February 26, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
EVANSVILLE SPORTS RELEASE
Box Score (PDF)
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Evansville head coach Marty Simmons won his 100th game at the helm of his alma mater as the Purple Aces earned a 61-48 victory over Drake in the final regular season home game of the 2013-14 season.
D.J. Balentine led all players with 23 points on a 9-of-20 night from the floor. Blake Simmons added 13 for the Aces (12-18, 5-12 MVC) while Egidijus Mockevicius posted a game-high 10 rebounds. Drake (14-15, 5-12 MVC) was held to a season-low 48 points in the loss.
"All of the credit goes to the players, they had an excellent practice yesterday and that carried over to the game," head coach Marty Simmons said. "They really rebounded from a tough game on Saturday; I am very proud of those guys."
After posting just two points last time out against SIU, Balentine recorded the opening five UE tallies, leading to a 5-5 tie. Drake posted consecutive buckets to take a 9-5 edge before David Howard hit a layup and Balentine scored an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Aces their first edge, 10-9, just over five minutes in.
Drake fought back using the long ball, hitting four of its first seven triples on its way to a 28-21 lead. Over that span, the Bulldogs connected on 8 out of 11 shots while taking their largest lead to that point with five minutes remaining in the first half. Adam Wing ended the stretch with his first bucket of the game.
Over the final minutes of the half, defense was the key, especially for Evansville. The Aces held Drake scoreless for a stretch of over six minutes, forcing six misses and a turnover. While the defense was holding strong, the offense sputtered a bit towards the end, missing two shots while turning the ball over twice. Jaylon Moore scored at the buzzer as UE trailed by just four at the break, 30-26. Balentine tallied ten to lead all players while eight out of the nine Bulldogs to take the floor scored in the first stanza.
The drought from the floor continued to open the second half for Drake as the Aces got even closer. Balentine connected from downtown for the second time to get the Aces within one at 30-29 before another triple just over three minutes into the period put UE back on top at 34-32. Richard Carter ended the stretch from the field for the Bulldogs that lasted 10:29 as his bucket tied the game back up. Drake missed a total of ten shots over that time.
Despite that basket, the Aces retook and extended their lead. UE hit 8 of its first 12 shots of the second half en route to the first double digit lead either team enjoyed in the game at that time at 46-36. Moore's second floater of the game gave Evansville its largest lead of the night at 52-37 at the midway point of the latter half.
That lead would never go back into single digits over the remainder of the game as the Aces earned the season split with Drake, taking a 61-48 win. The 48 points marked a season low for the Bulldogs; it was a great turn for UE, who gave up 94 to DU in Des Moines. The 94 was the most the Bulldogs scored versus a Division I opponent this season.
Much of that success can be attributed to a defense that went 10:29 without giving up a Bulldog field goal at the end of the first half and opening moments of the second. Another part was the second-half performance by UE. The Aces allowed Drake to hit 72% of their second-half tries in the road contest (18-25), but gave up just 30% in the latter half tonight.
Evansville took the rebounding edge by a 35-27 final thanks to ten caroms from Mockevicius. The sophomore also added four blocks. Balentine paced all players with seven helpers while Simmons checked in with six. He also had two steals.
A trip to Loyola on Saturday completes the regular season for the Purple Aces. This marks the first road contest against the Ramblers with both being members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Tip is set for 3 p.m. We will also have updates as to the seeding of the Aces heading into next week's Arch Madness.