A career-high 16 points by Blake Simmons was overshadowed by 14 3-pointers by UNI as the Panthers earned their second win in a row, topping the University of Evansville men's basketball team, 80-53, on Wednesday evening at the Ford Center.
Simmons was the lone double digit scorer for UE (7-9, 0-3 MVC) as he connected on six of his eight attempts and 2-of-3 3-pointers. Finishing just behind him was sophomore D.J. Balentine, who chipped in eight points. It marked the first time this season that Balentine failed to reach the 10-point mark, ending a streak of 15 games. Three Panthers (8-7, 2-1 MVC) were in double figures, led by Matt Bohannon, who was 5-9 from long range and tallied 17.
UNI came out firing from long range, hitting seven in the first half on their way to a 43-24 halftime advantage. Three of those came in a 15-4 run to open the game as the Panthers hit six of their first nine shots including 3-of-4 treys in the first five minutes. Evansville started the night 1-5 from the field before a Simmons jumper made it 15-6.
His bucket, coupled with a D.J. Balentine field goal, brought UE within seven tallies, but it was all Panthers from there. Back-to-back treys, led off by one from Deon Mitchell, saw UNI re-establish its double figure advantage. Their first-half edge grew to as many as 22 points at 40-18 as Wes Washpun drained the seventh three of the night with 2:49 left in the period.
Over the final minutes of the half, the Aces cut slightly into the game, cutting it to 19 at halftime. Simmons led UE with nine points at the break while Washpun had 10.
Out of the break, the Panthers quickly saw their advantage grow to 25 points in the first three minutes before Matt Bohannon knocked down the 14th trey of the game for UNI to give them a 34-point advantage at 67-33. The lead hovered around 30 for the remainder of the game until a Tyler Ptacek three concluded the scoring as UNI finished the night with an 80-53 win.
Fourteen treys found the bottom of the net for UNI as they were 14-of-30 (46.7%) beyond the arc; for the night, the Panthers attempted 30 treys and only 25 buckets inside. For the night, UNI shot 50.9% overall as Evansville finished the game at 40.4%.
A 7-rebound effort by Seth Tuttle, a game high, helped the Panthers finish the evening with a 34-31 tally on the boards. Duane Gibson checked in with six points, five assists and three rebounds while Egidijus Mockevicius posted four boards and three shot blocks.
Saturday will see the Aces make the short trip to Carbondale, Ill. where they are set to take on Southern Illinois. Game time is slated for 3:05 p.m. at SIU Arena.
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