Aces Win Two at Home

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On Wednesday evening, Evansville hosted Missouri State at the Ford Center. Missouri State was coming off of their first win of the season against Southern Illinois. This victory was also the Bears first against Division I competition. Evansville began the game with a 10 point scoring out burst by Evansville freshman Egidijus Mockevicius. Evansville then built up a lead as large as 6 points in the first half with Missouri State cut down 3 to (21-18) at Halftime. With this low scoring game Evansville was lucky to have a lead at the end of the half and if the Aces would have been playing a more proficient scoring team, they would have probably been down at the half.

During the second half Evansville had a 10 point lead. Missouri State took their first lead at 38 to 37 with 8 minutes remaining in the game. After this, the lead went back and forth until the final minute. Evansville was ahead of Missouri State at 47 45 after a key block from Egidijus Mockevicius with 20 seconds remaining. Colt Ryan was fouled and stepped to the free throw line for a key one and one bonus situation. Ryan was able to convert both free throws to push the lead to 4. After this, the Bears hustled down the floor to make a basket, which cut the Evansville lead back to 2. Then, all Evansville had to do was inbound the ball and maintain control and the Aces could shoot more free throws. Colt Ryan had the ball stripped away from him and Missouri State grabbed the ball and scored a basket to tie the game at 49. Then the game was off to overtime.

In overtime, Evansville and Missouri State were locked in a close tussle. Egidijus Mockevicius made a key basket with the foul and was able to convert the three point play. With Mockevicius’ play in this game, Evansville has found another potential scoring threat who can take some of the defensive pressure off of Colt Ryan. This would be key because so many times defenses will concentrate on Colt Ryan and this will shut the Evansville offense down. Troy Taylor made a key layup off of an offensive rebound to make the Evansville lead to four at 60-56, but then Anthony Downing retaliated by hitting a three pointer to cut the Evansville lead to a single point. Evansville forced Missouri State into a missed shot and then added 2 points to the lead to make the final score of 62 to 59.

Troy Taylor grabbed 19 rebounds in the game, which was 2 rebounds short of the school record. With this rebounding presence for Evansville, the Aces were able to withstand Missouri State’s many chances at winning the game. Evansville played pretty well against a Bears team who showed a lot of confidence after beating Southern Illinois four days previously. The Aces showed great poise after the game went to overtime and did not let up its intensity throughout the extra 5 minutes. The team is showing signs of making improvements in the conference season because there were games in the non-conference season, such as against Murray State, where Evansville had a 15 point first half lead and lost the contest by 14 points. Missouri State is not as good as the Racers, but Evansville stopped a team that had some confidence after a victory over Southern Illinois.

Marty Simmons thought his team was fortunate to come away with the victory over Missouri State after the game went into overtime because the Bears stole the ball away on an inbounds pass and converted a layup.“All we’ve got to do is get the ball in, and they’re going to foul. We’ve got to get more space, and we didn’t execute it well. We’ve got to be able to pull the trigger when guys are open. We’re fortunate, and we’ve got to learn from it.” Troy Taylor said his rebounding philosophy is to watch the ball leave the players hand because then he can project where the ball is going to be at once the shot misses. “I just try to position myself, play percentages and things such as that, because I can tell when it leaves their hands whether it’s short or long or right or left. I just try to get into that right position where the ball’s going.” Simmons believed the victory over the Bears was important because it was the Aces first conference victory. “With where we’re at in our season, we want to get better tomorrow. We’re very thrilled we got this win tonight. It’s a big win. We could have lost, and to get off 0-2 would have been tough. The season’s not over, and then you’d do whatever you could to win the next one. I think with our team – where we’re at – we’ve got to take it one day at a time and just try to get a little bit better.”

On Saturday Evansville played its second straight home game against Southern Illinois. The Salukis are under the direction of first year head coach Barry Hinson, who previously coached at Missouri State.

In the first half Evansville started off the game slow against Southern Illinois. As the game progressed, Evansville began to pull away and the Aces enjoyed a comfortable lead over the Salukis throughout the second half. The Aces lead was cut a few times, but Evansville responded well to push this lead out to a wide margin. Evansville cruised to an easy victory by the score of 85 to 68.

The Aces shot 57.7 percent field and 67.7 percent on three pointers. These are numbers which will win almost any game, so if Evansville can keep up this shooting performance, the Aces can have some defensive lapses as the team did against Southern Illinois. Evansville still gave up some offensive rebounds, which lead to easy baskets for Southern Illinois. Colt Ryan says that Simmons made shooting a priority for the game against Southern Illinois.“Coach Simmons made it a point of emphasis that he thought this was the best shooting team he’s had at Evansville. He mentioned that today, and we just kind of took it upon ourselves. We realized we are a good shooting team. We just haven’t been shooting the ball well, and we just made a concentrated effort to make shots.” Barry Hinson believes Evansville ran its offense superbly against his Southern Illinois team. “We didn’t do anything well defensively in the second half,” said Hinson. “They shot 67 percent (on 3-pointers). But I think you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. Cox got really hot. You’re talking about a team that shot incredibly the whole night long…They just dissected us. A lot of that had to do with layups, but you look at their 3-point percentage, it was really good.” Marty Simmons believes Evansville’s offense was better in the first half than the second half although Evansville shot higher than 50 percent in both halves. “I thought in the first half we had some careless turnovers in transition, and two or three times with didn’t capitalize with throwing under-hand passes. I thought in the second half, we played more simpler, and obviously guys made shots.”

This was an easy victory for Evansville to pick up and with the game being at home it was crucial for the Aces to have an easy win. However, Evansville has played two of the projected weakest teams in the conference at home and the Aces will need to play much stronger when they play the Shockers next Sunday afternoon. First, Evansville plays at Northern Iowa on Wednesday. Evansville needs to have more consistent play from the whole team and not have different players step each night.

Written by theSPORTSfeast Aces Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of “The Sports Beast” James Range

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