Mockevicius Nears Triple-Double as Aces Top McKendree

Mockevicius Nears Triple-Double as Aces Top McKendree
Junior D.J. Balentine picked up right where he left off after last season, leading all players with 24 points as the University of Evansville men's basketball team defeated McKendree by an 88-60 final in exhibition play at the Ford Center on Saturday.

Balentine went 9-15 from the field while draining five of his six free throw attempts.  Egidijus Mockevicius fell just one blocked shot shy of a triple-double.  He scored 16 points while hauling in ten rebounds.  He blocked nine shots on the night and hit seven of his 11 shots.  Jaylon Brown and David Howard each had solid days, finishing with eight points apiece.

“We have been practicing these details for three weeks, but finally we were able to play somebody else,” head coach Marty Simmons said.  “Now we are able to take this video and use it as a teaching tool.”

The newcomers for the Aces also were strong.  Taylor Stafford scored seven points in his debut while dishing out a game-high five assists.  Mislav Brzoja notched four rebounds and four helpers while Willie Wiley scored four points and had three caroms.

“We got to see where we are at right now and see what we did well and see what we need to work on,” Balentine explained.  “Everyone got the chance to play some quality minutes and our new guys were able to come in and do pretty well.”

One Bearcat finished in double digits as Matt Holmes scored 18 points on a 5-of-11 effort from the floor.  He also tied Mockevicius for the game-high in rebounds with 10.

Mockevicius was a beast for UE in the first half, posting a game-high 14 points, including the opening four tallies of the contest.  McKendree took a 5-4 lead just over two minutes in, but a Balentine jumper put UE up for good at 6-5.

With the score set at 14-10 in favor of UE, the Aces made their largest run of the game, posting the next 12 tallies en route to a 26-10 lead.  Mockevicius had six points in the run as the Aces cruised to the advantage.  The lead went up to 21 points at 36-15 inside of six minutes remaining in the period.  Taylor Stafford drained his first bucket of the game to pad the lead.

Over the final minutes of the stanza, the Bearcats cut into the deficit, getting as close as 11 points (39-28) with 28 ticks remaining in the half.  McKendree forced three UE turnovers in the final 2:08 to assist in the run.  Mockevicius tipped in a Balentine miss in the final seconds to put UE up by a 41-28 score at the break.

Evansville shot 59.3% in the first half, led by Mockevicius' 6-for-6 effort.  He had 14 points and five boards.  Balentine totaled 10 points in the first half while Matt Holmes led the Bearcats with 11 and 6 in the first 30 minutes.

In the opening moments of the second half, all doubt was put aside as the Aces ran away with the contest.  UE scored the first four points out of the break while Balentine knocked down a trey with 15:21 remaining to reestablish the 20-point advantage at 53-33.

With UE up 57-37, several contributed to an 11-2 run that was capped off by a Jaylon Moore bucket as the Aces took a 68-39 lead for their largest edge of the game at 31 points.  McKendree cut the gap in the final minutes, but UE came out victorious by an 88-60 final.       

Evansville shot 55.7% for the contest while the defense held the Bearcats to 33.9%.  The defense for UE was even better in the latter period, allowing just nine out of 33 shots to fall.  UE also outrebounded the Bearcats by a 42-33 final.

Next Saturday, the Aces play their second and final exhibition game, playing host to Wabash at 3:05 p.m.  The women's team plays their first exhibition game earlier that day against USI.

Courtesy: University of Evansville Sports Infomation Department