EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - The 2014-15 season began in an historic way as the University of Evansville men's basketball team earned a 116-45 victory over Earlham at the Ford Center.
Evansville's 71-point margin of victory was the most in school history, surpassing the 62-point margin in a 116-54 victory over Chicago State on Jan. 25, 1993.
"We're just trying to get better," Aces head coach Marty Simmons said. "We played three games now and are trying to learn from each one. Now we have to get on to Miami, it is a big game for us."
Two players finished with 20 or more tallies, led by D.J. Balentine. The junior began his season with a game-high 22 points while tying his career mark with six rebounds. Balentine also posted five assists as the Purple Aces were credited with 34 helpers on 50 makes.
Finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds in his Evansville debut was redshirt sophomore Mislav Brzoja. He drained 10 of his 12 shots while posting four assists and three steals.
Egidijus Mockevicius was 7-for-9 from the field to finish with 16 while David Howard notched the first double-digit game in his collegiate career, finishing with 13.
Duane Gibson had a 4-6 day from the floor while leading everyone with five steals. Adam Wing rounded out the scoring leaders with his 10.
The Purple Aces began the contest on a 15-0 run as the Quakers missed their first nine shots while turning the ball over six times.
Despite the fast start, the Aces hit just six of their first 15 attempts. That all would change for the remainder of the game as the Aces were 44-for 65 the rest of the way.
Evansville shot 62.5% for the game, but over the final 32 minutes, UE shot 67%.UE extended its lead to 21-2 at the 11:20 mark of the first half before holding a 30-point advantage (54-24) at the break.
In the second half, it was all Aces as they outscored Earlham by a 62-21 margin to finish with the 116-45 win.
Earlham was led by Taylen Alexander, who notched 18 points and 5 rebounds. He was 7-for-13 on the day while blocking the lone shot of the day for the Quakers.
They connected on six treys in the game while UE knocked down three."We played well for the most part, it was a good overall team effort," Balentine said. "Coach did a great job in the locker room of having us compete against ourselves."
Turnovers favored the Aces as they forced 27 while committing just seven of their own. It marked the first time UE forced 25 or more since Oakland City had 28 on Dec. 18, 2011.
Evansville recorded 30+ assists as a team for the first time since recording 31 at Bradley on Feb. 1, 2012.
The Aces had 34 against the Quakers as five players were credited with five apiece.One of the largest disparities came in the paint. Ninety of Evansville's 116 tallies came down low.
The Aces outscored Earlham in the paint by a 90-14 margin. UE also finished with a 42-4 advantage in points off turnovers and did not give up any fast break points while scoring 32 of their own. Lastly – 54 points came off the bench for UE.
With a successful opener in the books, UE has its sights set on Wednesday's road trip to Miami Ohio.
"We got off to a good start and are starting to concentrate on Miami Ohio," Mislav Brzoja said. "We know we have to rebound better against them as we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds to these guys."Coach Simmons echoed those sentiments."We will watch the tape and get some things off of it, but our attention now is on Miami," he said. "This will be a huge road contest for us. We need three sharp days of practice to get prepared."
That road trip takes place on Wednesday as UE makes the trek to Oxford, Ohio for a 7 p.m. ET contest.