Aces Split Two Games

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On Wednesday the Aces returned home to play the Bradley Braves, trying to end a two game losing streak. In the first half the Aces started off slow. Evansville did not shoot the three well in the first half as their first made three point basket came in the second half. Bradley worked the ball around until the shot clock was close to expiring. After this, the Braves would look to attack the basket and score. Evansville still gave up to many easy points to the Braves in the first half. The Aces need to have strong defense, which does not allow offensive rebounds to its opponents because these extra opportunities are easy chances to score a basket.

In the second half Evansville started of the stanza stronger. The aces were leading 30 to 28 at halftime and came out shooting a high percentage in the second half. Evansville’s lead grew to 6 early in the half and the Braves were able to cut the lead down to 2 points. Evansville responded with a made three pointer from Adam Wing for the Ace’s first made three of the evening, which put a huge spark in the Aces offense. After this, Colt Ryan hit Evansville’s second and final three of the evening while also starting a 9-0 run to propel the Aces to victory. Evansville needs to shoot the ball better from three or just stop attempting the shot because not only when the Aces miss the shot do points not go on the scoreboard, but it also allows the opponent a fast break in transition. Evansville was then able to weather a late challenge by the Braves and pull away late for a 66 to 56 victory.

Evansville coach Marty Simmons believes Egidijus Mockevicius played well for the Aces as Mockevicius claimed 9 of his 10 rebounds in the second half. “Even when he didn’t block shots. We had a very difficult time keeping (Walt) Lemon in front of us. He’s very good, and in the first half he hit some huge 3s. In the second half, he was hesitating. With Egidijus in there it gives us a bigger guy, and when he didn’t block shots he at least adjusts shots.” This is something Evansville can use to its advantage to cause the other team to change its shot and cause turnovers, which could lead into fast breaks and easy scoring opportunities. When you have a player as tall as Moscevicius the team should use his length to its advantage to disrupt shooters shot selection and concentration.

Colt Ryan believes Mockevicius’s presence of blocking or altering shots will help the Aces going forward. “I think he had four blocks tonight, and I remember down the stretch if he didn’t block them, he was still altering them, which is big. We haven’t had that in Evansville for a while. The next step is, we need to make sure our guards are weak side rebounding.” Evansville only made two three pointers on the evening by Adam Wing and Colt Ryan. Ryan believes Wing’s shot was huge which lead to the three Ryan hit himself. “Wing’s a great shooter. He knocked it in, and I think it was a big shot for us. After he made that one, I came down and made another one. It kind of gave us a little energy — got the lid off the basket.” It is important for Evansville to find a way to win even when the three pointer is not going in and the Aces did this against Bradley. Evansville will need to have this tough minded attitude if threes ever do not fall again to pull out another victory.

On Saturday Evansville traveled to Illinois State to play the Redbirds. Illinois State is a team that has struggled throughout the early part of conference play. The scoring in the game was monotonous until D.J. Balentine hit a three to give Evansville a lead of 12-9 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. Illinois State went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 16. Once again Evansville allowed a team to go on a run and gave up its lead. The Aces need to start building upon leads and putting games away early instead of keeping the contest close until late in the game. Ned Cox hit a 40 foot three to give Evansville the lead at 19-18 and Illinois State answered with a three to lead 21-19. The Aces did not score for five minutes. Scoring droughts like this have haunted the Aces throughout the season. If outside shots are not falling Evansville should take the ball to the basket and try closer shots or pick up fouls, which will turn into free throws. After the made three Illinois State went on a 9-0 run to put distance between Evansville with an 8 point lead. At the half the Aces trailed the Redbirds 31 to 22.

Evansville started the second half strong cutting the Redbirds lead to 5. However, Illinois State built its lead back to the halftime margin of 9. Jayson Moore scored a basket to cut Illinois State’s lead to 3 at 41-38. Ned Cox scored 5 straight points to give Evansville a 1 point lead at 43-42. Next, Evansville tied the game at 48. Evansville then went down 6 to Illinois State as the Redbirds scored 6 straight points. The Aces were never able to recover from this deficit and lost by a final score of 67-62 to the Redbirds.

Marty Simmons believes Evansville’s offense was not consistent throughout the game. “Instead of continuing to execute offense, we tend to be more stationary – more one on one. We’re not very successful when we do that. For most of the second half, we got back to being who we are at least offensively.” If Evansville cannot find senior leadership who will stand up when things are not going well on the court this could be a season where the Aces struggle and waste a valuable opportunity to play in the post season. Evansville needs one player if it is not a senior to step and take accountability to shoulder the load of putting this team back together when it has offensive struggles. Once Evansville finds its way out of offensive problems and can score the ball the team is fine, but just getting to this point will be the hard part for the Aces. Ned Cox believes the Aces need to run its offense better for a whole game instead of just part of one. “It’s something that championship teams do, and I feel like we have guys on this team who want to be able to sustain it. It’s just a matter of going out and actually doing it. We’ll just do what we always do: take what we can from this and try to keep moving forward.”

Written by theSPORTSfeast Evansville Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of “The Sports Beast” James Range

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