Colt Ryan led the Aces once again, but road woes continued for the University of Evansville men's basketball team as Southern Illinois took a 65-56 win over UE on Wednesday night at SIU Arena.
Ryan finished with a game-high 21 points as he stands just five points away from tying Marcus Wilson for No. 2 on the all-time UE (14-12, 7-7 MVC) scoring list. He hit seven out of 15 shots on the night, including five out of nine 3-pointers. Troy Taylor was the other Aces to finish in double figures, tallying ten.
Jeff Early led the way for SIU (10-15, 3-11 MVC) as he notched 14 points and a game-high 10 boards. He was one of three Salukis in double digits as Anthony Beane and Jalen Pendleton tallied 12 apiece.
Momentum was on Evansville's side early on as they hit their first two shots en route to a 5-0. Lewis Jones hit the first basket before Colt Ryan turned an SIU turnover into a three-pointer. The Salukis fought right back, hitting four of their first six shots as a shot by Desmar Jackson gave SIU an 8-7 lead. Seconds later, Ryan connected on his second trey to put UE back in front just over four minutes in.
With 11:35 left in the half, Anthony Beane put SIU back on top and they utilized a 5-8 stretch to take their largest lead at 27-18. Troy Taylor ended the stretch with his layup off of an offensive rebound to end an 0-6 stretch that saw UE go scoreless for four minutes of play.
Down 28-20 with 4:21 left in the frame, the Aces posted a 10-0 run, thanks in part to two more treys by Colt Ryan and solid play by Ryan Sawvell, who notched three rebounds and four points. Southern Illinois ended the run to take a 31-30 lead into the break.
Ryan led everyone with 12 points at the break, but the difference came on the boards as SIU held a 19-10 lead in that department while scoring 14 out of 20 second chance points.
Egidijus Mockevicius got on the board with a dunk to give UE the lead to open up the second half, but the Salukis countered with a 10-2 stretch, capped off by threes courtesy of Beane and Jalen Pendleton to go back up by seven at 41-34 with 16 minutes remaining.
The stretch by the Salukis turned out to be 15-0 as they took a 48-34 lead, their largest lead of the game. In that run, UE missed all seven shots while committing five turnovers. Evansville countered back as Colt Ryan ended a drought of 8:16 without a point. The defense held SIU without a point for a stretch of almost four minutes, forcing them into three turnovers and a miss, but UE was able to muster up just four points over that span.
Down by as many as 16 points inside of six minutes remaining, the Aces slowly chipped away, getting within eight points with 2:41 remaining, but the dagger came on the defensive end as SIU grabbed its 14th offensive board of the game and turned that into a Jeff Early bucket as the lead went back into double figures at 58-48. Evansville would be unable to get any closer as the Salukis held on for the 65-56 final.
SIU finished with a solid 38-26 lead in rebounding, led by Early's ten. They shot 46.7% while UE was held to 40.7%. Both squads struggled with turnovers as Evansville recorded 18 and Southern Illinois had 20.
A pair of home games is up next for Evansville, beginning on Saturday at No. 23 Creighton comes to the Ford Center for a 2 p.m. game on ESPNU. Fans in attendance are asked to wear their purple as UE looks to set its season-high in attendance. Next Wednesday, UE will play host to Illinois State in a 7:05 p.m. contest.
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