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No Luck of the Irish for Aces

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Evansville was defeated by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 58 to 49 on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Indiana. Evansville started off the game slow against Notre Dame as it took the Aces time to start making shots throughout the game. Also, picking up fouls was a problem as Colt Ryan picked up his second with about eight minutes left on the first half clock. This forced the Aces to be without the services of Ryan and this caused an issue because Evansville’s floor leader and leading scorer was not out to help run the offense. Evansville was a little slow on the defensive side of the ball as well which allowed the Irish to obtain some offensive rebounds. Moving forward, it will be important for Evansville to limit a team to one possession per trip down the floor. However, for most of the time Evansville was able to play well against the physical style of a Big East team in Notre Dame. During the first half Evansville was only four of ten from three point land. If a few more of these shots could have went in the basket this would have changed the complexion of the whole game.

At the beginning of the second half Evansville seemed like it was going to mount a charge to come back in the game. The Aces came out with a lot of hustle, but they could not cut down the Irish lead heading into the under 16 minute media timeout. Evansville’s shooting woes continued throughout the second half.

Marty Simmons was impressed with Jack Cooley of Notre Dame who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. “Our guys battled hard against him. Obviously, we fouled him too much. He’s a heck of a player. He’s got great hands. He’s really smart. He really knows how to play, gets angles in there and moves with the ball.” Mike Brey of Notre dame was pleased with the win and thinks Evansville will be good during the season.  “I’m pleased with our win because I think we beat a really good team. I think that’s a win that can be part of our resume…We had to work to win, and I love that the first game of the season. Every time they made it interesting, I thought we really executed, got a key stop or made a heck of a play. I think that will do us well over the course of five months.” Evansville sophomore Ryan Sawvell believes the Aces are close to beating a team the caliber of Notre Dame in the near future. “We’re not that far from beating a team like that, I think, and that’s definitely an NCAA tournament team. Anything’s possible this season, especially within our conference.” Marty Simmons said it was tough for Evansville to make a key shot throughout the game. “We could never get over the hump. That’s partly us not executing enough to get over that hump, but give them credit because I felt like, in times, they were able to raise their intensity and prevent us from doing it.”

With the loss this was Evansville’s only chance to beat a BCS team on the season. Evansville has not beaten a BCS team since the Aces defeated Purdue 75-69 in Matt Painter’s first season in 2005-2006. This would have been a big win for Evansville and the Aces would have added a win to their tournament resume which would have helped during the selection process. There are some other Missouri Valley teams who have big games left on their schedule such as Bradley facing off against Michigan and Creighton plays Nebraska as well as Wisconsin. Indiana State lost to UCLA on Friday evening so the conference needs to start picking up some wins to strengthen the leagues RPI and strength of schedule for March Madness. Evansville still has three games against some high mid majors in Colorado State, Murray State, and Butler left on the non conference schedule before the start of Missouri Valley play. However, before these contests Evansville hosts three teams next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Ford Center in the sub regional round of the Coach’s vs. Cancer Classic. The teams are Buffalo, Yale, and Western Illinois. With the way the games are scheduled Evansville will face the toughest of the three opponents in Buffalo on Thursday evening when the team will have fresh legs. By Saturday, in Evansville’s third game in three days, the Aces may be showing signs of being tired as they are playing a lesser team in Western Illinois who Evansville defeated 68-45 last season during the Sears Bracket Buster series. Buffalo will provide a tough challenge for Evansville on Thursday evening so the Aces need to be ready to play. It will be crucial for the team to put this loss out of their head and move forward with the rest of the season.

Written by theSPORTSfeast Evansville Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of The Sports Beast James Range

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