University of Evansville senior Colt Ryan scored a season-high 33 points while registering 2,000 for his career as the Purple Aces men's basketball team picked up an 84-78 overtime win over Drake on Sunday evening at the Ford Center in front of a national audience on ESPNU.
Ryan hit the milestone with 1:21 left in the first half as he registered his sixth point of the game. The Batesville, Ind. product entered the game with 1,994 points in his career and became just the third player in UE history to hit 2,000 and the 14th in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference.
"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."
Head coach Marty Simmons was also pleased with the win and proud of Colt's milestone
"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," Simmons said. "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."
With the win, Evansville (14-11, 7-6 MVC) improves to 6-0 in conference home games this season and 12-2 overall at the Ford Center. Drake fell to 11-13 and 5-8 in the Valley.
Drake jumped out to the early edge at 7-4 as the Purple Aces began the game 1-5 from the floor before Ned Cox hit a layup to bring UE back within one at the 15:50 mark. With the Bulldogs lead standing at 11-6, UE rallied to tie before eventually taking the lead thanks to a 10-4 run.
Evansville's defense held the Bulldogs to 1-of-9 shooting and forced four turnovers over the stretch while a Ned Cox trey put UE back on top at 16-15. With 7:46 left in the first half, Joey King hit a three to mark the third lead change of the game as DU grabbed the lead back.
The game was tied for the fourth time with four minutes remaining before the Bulldogs finished the half on a 14-5 stretch. Ben Simons, who led all players with 15 in the first half, hit a pair of threes as DU hit four out of their last five shots to give Drake a 35-26 halftime lead.
Colt Ryan hit a milestone in that final stretch as his bucket with 1:21 remaining in the frame gave him 2,000 for his career. He scored six in the half while Cox led UE with nine. The late flurry helped Drake shot 40.6% in the half, including 5-of-10 from long range. Evansville was held to 28.1%, connecting on nine of their 32 attempts.
With the pressure of accomplishing such a special feat off of his mind, Ryan and the Aces came out with a reenergized spirit in the second half, reeling off seven in a row over the first 3:19 of the half. Ryan scored the first five before tallying ten in the first five minutes. His trey with just over 15 minutes left gave the lead back to UE at 38-37.
Drake missed two shots in the run while turning the ball over four times. Simons put DU on the board with 16:26 remaining, but the UE run to open the half would extend to 12-2. Both teams shot lights out early in the half as Evansville began 9-of-13 while the Bulldogs missed their first two buckets before hitting five out of seven.
The run culminated in Drake holding a 49-46 lead before Evansville posted a 7-0 run to take their largest edge at 53-49. It began with a Cox trey before capping it off with a layup. Richard Carter hit a pair of free throws to get Drake back on track.
The back-and-forth action continued as a Ryan free throw put UE up 58-56 with five minutes left but seconds later, it was Simons knocking down another trey to put DU back on top marking the 11th lead change of the contest. His fifth three of the game two minutes later gave the Bulldogs a 64-61 lead
Their lead would extend into the final minute, but with 15 ticks left in regulation, Colt struck again as his three tied it up and Drake was unable to muster up an open shot in their last possession as the game advanced into overtime.
UE scored the first four points of OT before Drake hit back-to-back threes to take a 72-70 lead with 2:47 left. From there, it was all Aces as they finished off overtime with a 14-6 run to earn the 84-78 win. Evansville hit an incredible 16-of-18 free throws in overtime to seal the win while hitting 25 out of 29 on the game. Drake was also strong from the line, making 14 out of 16.
Leading Drake was Simons, who notched 27 on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting night while hitting five out of seven treys. Jordan Clarke notched a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 14 boards. His efforts helped the Bulldogs finish with a 39-36 edge in the rebounding battle.
Behind Ryan's performance was Cox, who tallied his season mark of 21. Troy Taylor also reached double figures with 11 tallies to go along with 10 rebounds. Egidijus Mockevicius was a dominant force down low. He tied his career mark with six blocks while pulling in eight rebounds. Evansville was once again unselfish as a team, recording assists on 22 out of 26 made baskets.
Featuring a total of 16 lead changes and 11 ties, the contest ended a three-game slide for the Aces against the Bulldogs.
Wednesday will mark UE's annual trip to Carbondale, Ill. as the Aces will square off against Southern Illinois. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at SIU Arena. Following the trip to SIU, Evansville will host Creighton and Illinois State at the Ford Center.
Courtesy: UE Sports Information Department
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