Ryan Surpasses 2,000 as Aces Split

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On Tuesday evening Evansville started the game slow against Bradley. The Aces only scored four points in the first 7 minutes of the half. Throughout the half the Aces trailed by as much as 12 points. However, Colt Ryan scored 14 points in 10 minutes to give Evansville a 1 point lead at the half. For once Evansville was able to get out of an offensive slump to take the lead over Bradley. This is a sign of progress to show how the Aces are coming together as a team. This is something the team needed to do so this might be a good sign for the remaining games of the season.

As the second half began, the Aces did not slow down. Colt Ryan scored the first 5 points of the half and forced Bradley to call a timeout to stop the run. The Braves did this as Bradley took a 4 point lead over the Aces. Bradley continued to stretch outs its lead, but D.J. Balentine hit a three to cut the Braves lead to 7 at 61-54. The Aces cut the lead to 3 later in the half, but the Braves kept adding a point or two to the lead so Evansville never had the lead at 1 possession for long. Finally, The Aces were able to cut into the Braves lead as Jaylon Moore made a shot to put the lead at a point. Picket scored for Bradley and Colt Ryan answered by making a 3 to tie the game. Walt Lemon was fouled twice for the Braves and made two out of four free throws. Jaylon Moore missed a dunk which would have again knotted the score. Bradley was fouled again and put in 2 free throws which sealed the game. The aces lost by a final score of 76-70. The Aces do not have any confidence when they travel on the road. Evansville cannot consistently win road games, which has been a struggle for the team for the past few seasons. This is a trend which will need to change if Evansville is going to have any success in the future.

Marty Simmons believes the Aces were taking to many quick shots throughout the second half which lead to easy baskets for Bradley. “I think they got up eight. We just shot quick. It seemed like when we had more patience on the offensive end, we were able to get more efficient.” Troy Taylor believes defending teams will be important as the season progresses to not allow teams free throw opportunities as Bradley shot 26 free throws on the evening, making 20 of them. “I know we got to the 12-minute mark and they were already in the one-and-one. That was a huge thing tonight…A lot of teams are setting ball screens, and then the guards are just attacking. It’s our job to contain it. It got to the point where they were getting to the middle, touching the paint, and when that happens the defense collapses.” Simmons maintains the most important part of the game for Evansville is practice. “We’ve just got to stay positive and keep bringing energy to practice. I thought yesterday’s practice was as good as any we’ve had all year. We’ve got a resilient group.”

On Sunday evening the Aces returned home to play the Drake Bulldogs in a nationally televised Sunday evening ESPNU contest. Once again the Aces started out the game slow against Drake. The Bulldogs built up a 5 point lead in the early stages of the half. As the game progressed Drake built this lead out to 9 points with a 35-26 halftime advantage. The first half struggles continued for the Aces as Evansville allowed the Bulldogs plenty of easy shots around the basket. Also, Drake was able to claim some easy offensive rebounds, which lead to easy baskets.

The second half was completely different for the Aces. Colt Ryan scored the first 5 points of the half and prompted Drake coach Mark Phelps to have to call a timeout to stop the Evansville run. The game was close throughout the second half and then the game came down to the last minute. Evansville was down by 3 when Colt Ryan hit a three pointer to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Evansville came out strong and did not allow Drake to score for the first 2 minutes. The Aces were able to build a lead and hit free throws to pick up a 84-78 win over the Bulldogs. Colt Ryan put up a season high effort for the Aces in the victory while also surpassing a milestone by scoring his 2,000th point in his Evansville career. Ned Cox scored 21 while Troy Taylor scored 11 for Evansville. The Aces were much improved from the free throw line, making 25 out of 29 free throws on the game. Egidijus Mockevicius stepped up for the Aces making 6 blocks while also contributing 8 rebounds.

Colt Ryan was proud of scoring his 2,000th point in an Aces uniform. “It was great to get it over with but more importantly to get the win,” Ryan said. “I just want to keep doing great things for me team and our fans. Our senior class is working hard to finish on a high note.” Marty Simmons believes Ryan has had an outstanding career so far for Evansville. “Colt has worked so hard for so long, he is just that kind of player, he loves the game and has gotten better every year, it is a special accomplishment. I am so proud of my team because they give so much to practice, weight training, their schoolwork and the game, so it is great to see them get this win.” Colt Ryan made 14 out of 15 free throws on the game for Evansville. “As the halves go on and things, I always keep an eye on the foul count of the other team and try to be more aggressive once the team is in double figures once we’re in the bonus and can shoot free throws.”

Written by theSPORTSfeast Evansville Insider Bryce Weiler

Photo Courtesy of “The Sports Beast” James Range

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