Balentine’s 25 points paces UE to 75-66 win - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Balentine’s 25 points paces UE to 75-66 win

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -

D.J. Balentine hit three triples and 10 free throws on his way to 25 points as the University of Evansville men's basketball team held off a furious rally to defeat Southern Illinois by a 75-66 final on Saturday at the Ford Center.

Balentine led UE (15-5, 5-3 MVC) with 25 points on a 6-of-11 day from the floor. Egidijus Mockevicius posted 15 points and 8 rebounds while Adam Wing chipped in nine. Taylor Stafford continued his solid play, hitting a pair of 3-pointers before finishing with seven points.

“It feels great to come out of here with a win,” UE head coach Marty Simmons said. “We were fortunate to get a couple of stops late and hit our free throws down the stretch. Our guys came off the bench and gave us a huge boost.”

Southern Illinois (9-12, 2-6 MVC) had the upper hand early in the contest, hitting two of its first three shots en route to a 7-2 lead. Evansville overcame four turnovers in the first four minutes to fight back from the early deficit.

Balentine spurted a 14-0 run, scoring nine points in a row for UE. Wing capped it off with a three to give UE a 16-7 lead. Anthony Beane ended a 7-minute drought for SIU, hitting a three midway through the first half. It ended a 0-7 stretch for the Salukis.

Evansville endured a drought of its own, going 4:43 without a point as SIU scored five in a row. The Aces, who had ten turnovers in the first half, had five in that stretch as SIU fought back. Blake Simmons ended the stretch with a free throw. Stafford knocked down a three and Jaylon Brown had a breakaway dunk to pace UE to its first double figure lead at 23-12 with 6:13 remaining.

Inside of the 4-minute mark, SIU cut the gap to eight before the Aces finished the half on an 11-4 stretch to lead 39-24 at the half.

A Simmons free throw gave UE what would be its largest lead at 40-24 on the first possession of the second frame. With 12:44 left in the contest, Stafford's second three reestablished the 16-point advantage at 52-36. That is where the Salukis roared back. A 16-4 run saw then get within four at 56-52.

Christian Benzon hit an and-one in what would be a pivotal 6-1 rally to put Evansville back up by nine with five minutes remaining, but the Salukis kept battling. Inside of three minutes left, Bola Olaniyan hit a layup to make it just a 3-point game at 62-59. On the ensuing possession, Mockevicius hit a pair of free throws as UE retook a 2-possession lead and never looked back, taking the 75-66 win.

Beane was the top scorer for SIU, finishing with 19 points as he knocked down all eight free throw attempts. Jordan Caroline registered 15.

UE outshot the Salukis by a 48.6%-41.7%, but it was the Salukis outrebounding the Aces by a 27-25 final.

On Tuesday, UE will play host to Indiana State at the Ford Center in a 7 p.m. game. It will also be Military Appreciation Night. For tickets, call 812-488-ACES or visit the ticket office at the Ford Center or Carson Center.

Provided by UE Sports Information Department

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