Sophomore Dru Smith registered a career-high of 25 points to lead the University of Evansville men’s basketball team to a 91-76 win over Bowling Green on Tuesday night at the Stroh Center.
Smith connected on 11 out of 13 attempts en route to his career mark. He also had seven assists and five rebounds for the Purple Aces (7-2). Blake Simmons knocked down four triples on his way to a 16-point evening while Noah Frederking had his best college game with 14 points.
“To go on the road like this and have so many guys contribute tonight was big for us,” UE head coach Marty Simmons said. “We have a lot of respect for Bowling Green. They are a good team and for us to come up here and win is a good night for the team.
Pacing the Falcons (7-3) was Justin Turner with 21 points. Dylan Frye finished the night with 14 points while Nelly Cummings had 11. Demajeo Wiggins led the way on the boards with 11 caroms.
Dainius Chatkevicius got the Aces on the board in the opening possession before Blake Simmons hit the first of his three first-half triples in a game-opening 7-2 run in the first three minutes of play. Bowling Green took its first lead thanks to a 6-0 run. Trailing 9-4, the Falcons grabbed their first advantage of the evening thanks to a Daeqwon Plowden bucket.
Evansville grabbed the lead right back on a Dru Smith layup before Simmons notched another from outside to make it a 14-10 game at the 12:30 mark. BGSU cut the gap to just a point on three occasions in the final eight minutes of the half, but the Aces responded each time. With 1:08 remaining, Smith’s 12th point of the game gave UE its biggest lead at 44-35.
At the first half buzzer, Justin Turner made the difference with his 10th tally of the game as his 3-pointer cut the UE lead to six points, 46-40, at halftime. Smith led all players with 12 points in the period.
Bowling Green got right back within a possession to open up the second half when Derek Koch hit a triple before cutting the deficit to one at 46-45. That is when the defense took over, keying a 6-0 run that saw three buckets scored on the fast break to push the lead back up to seven points at 52-45.
After BGSU cut the gap to five at 56-51, the Aces broke the game open with ten points in a row. Smith connected on two more 3’s before Noah Frederking added another to give UE a 65-51 lead. The advantage remained in double figures, reaching 18 with under four minutes remaining as the score was 85-67.
UE held strong in the final minutes, clinching their seventh win of the year by a final of 91-76.
Duane Gibson led UE on the glass with eight rebounds as UE won that battle by a final of 35-22. Evansville entered the night as the #3 team in the nation in 3-point shooting and added to that number on Tuesday, hitting 12 out of 15 (80%) tries. It fell just short of the program record of 83.3% in a game, which was set against Butler (1990-91) and Southern Illinois (1995-96) when the team hit 10 out of 12 attempts from outside.
Shots were falling from all over the floor for the Aces as they shot 60.7% on the night, the second contest in a row where UE finished above 60%.
UE is back at the Ford Center for its next three contests. Canisius visits Evansville on Saturday in a 1 p.m. game before the Aces welcome Austin Peay and Midway next weekend.