The University of Evansville women's basketball team snapped an eight-game losing streak and halted an 11-game skid to Missouri Valley Conference foe Drake Thursday night at the Ford Center, as the Purple Aces topped the Bulldogs, 68-62, in the MVC opener for both squads.
Four Evansville (3-9, 1-0 MVC) players finished the night in double figures, as sophomore Mallory Ladd led the Aces with 16 points and 10 rebounds, recording her third double-double in as many games in a UE uniform. Her 16 points also tied a career high, matching a 16-point effort she posted against Montana State last year at Valparaiso.
Senior Samantha Heck tallied 15 points, going 6-for-10 from the field, while fellow senior Taylor Ware finished with a season-high 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Redshirt sophomore Khristian Hart rounded out the double-digit scorers for UE, adding 10 points and a game-high four steals.
Evansville shot a season-high 42.6 percent from the field, nailing 23 of its 54 shot attempts, and shot 44.4 percent behind the arc, going 8-for-18.
Drake (5-7, 0-1 MVC) posted a better shooting percentage than the Aces, hitting 42.9 percent of their field goal tries, but finished just 4-for-17 from three-point land (23.5%) and committed 21 turnovers that Evansville turned into 24 points.
The Aces found their mark from long distance early in the contest, scoring their first nine points on a trio of three-pointers by Ware, Friday and Hart to take an early 9-5 lead with 16:42 to go in the first.
UE used a 9-0 run, highlighted by a deep three from Ware from the left corner, to push its advantage to 18-7 just over two and a half minutes later. However, Drake responded with an 8-2 run of its own to trim Evansville's lead to 20-15 with 11:19 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Aces pushed its lead to double digits once again at the 7:14 mark, taking a 28-18 lead on a driving layup by sophomore Juliann Miller.
Both sides traded baskets for the rest of the half and Evansville held a 34-27 lead heading into the locker room, as the Aces forced 11 first-half turnovers and converted them into 18 points.
The Bulldogs quickly erased UE's halftime lead, going on an 8-2 run, capped by a free throw by Alyssa Marschner, to start the second half and pull within one at 36-35 with 16:05 remaining in the contest.
The Aces regained the momentum when redshirt senior Chelsea Falkenstein buried a three from the right wing at the 13:35 mark and Miller knocked down a 15-foot jumper to give UE a 48-43 advantage with 11 minutes remaining.
Evansville began to pull away midway through the second half, as Ladd converted on a pair of free throws to extend the Aces' margin to 55-46 with 7:17 remaining.
Heck drained a trey with 2:04 remaining and later scored on an inbound play to give UE its largest lead of the contest at 65-52 with 1:29 showing on the clock.
Drake cut the lead to single digits on a late layup, but would not threaten in the final minute, as the Aces secured their first win over the Bulldogs since 2008.
UE outrebounded DU, 37-33, and recorded a season-high 13 steals.
Evansville will look to stay perfect in Valley play Saturday, Jan. 5, when it hosts MVC preseason-favorite Creighton at 5 p.m.
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