Taylor and Riley help UE men take 63-59 win over Valpo

Taylor and Riley help UE men take 63-59 win over Valpo

University of Evansville junior Ryan Taylor finished with 30+ for the second game in a row to lead the Purple Aces to a 63-59 win over Valparaiso on Wednesday night inside the Ford Center.
"I think we just hung in there more than anything tonight.  We gave up too many three's in the first half, but we were a little better at pressuring shots in the second half," Aces head coach Marty Simmons said.  "Our guys are giving it everything they've got.  I am so proud of them."Box Score (PDF)Taylor connected on 10 out of 23 shots and 9-of-10 free throws to post 31 points for UE (16-10, 6-7 MVC).  The effort comes on the strength of a 32-point game at Illinois State for the reigning Co-MVC Player of the Week.  He also hauled in a game-high seven rebounds while playing 40 minutes for the second game in a row.  It marked the first time a UE player has had consecutive 30-point games since D.J. Balentine did so in the 2014 MVC Tournament against Drake and Wichita State.  K.J. Riley had a nice game, totaling 9 points and 6 rebounds.
"We just stuck together tonight.  We played pretty well over some stretches, but came together and got closer while making sure we came out with the win," Taylor explained after the game.  "A big emphasis tonight was getting to the free throw line and I feel like that was a big key in the win."
Leading the Crusaders (12-14, 3-10 MVC) were Bakari Evelyn and Markus Golder, who notched 15 points apiece.
The first five points of the night belonged to the Crusaders as a Max Joseph trey capped off the game-opening stretch.  John Hall got the Aces on the board with a free throw at the 17:43 mark.  Valparaiso's lead extended to 7-1 before K.J. Riley hit UE's first bucket of the game.
With the shot clock running down, he threw up a trey at the buzzer and banked it home.  It was the first 3-pointer of his career.  VU pushed its lead back up to six at 14-8 before the Aces rallied.  A 10-3 stretch was finished off with a Blake Simmons jumper that gave Evansville its first lead at 18-17.
UE's lead grew to as many as five points with 6:32 remaining in the half.  Noah Frederking connected on his first shot to give the Purple Aces a 24-19 advantage.  The close contest continued as Valparaiso roared back to retake the lead when a Micah Bradford trey made it a 28-27 game.  The Crusader lead remained at one as they took a 32-31 edge into the half.
Taylor led all players with 11 in the first 20 and added to it with a jumper to give UE the lead right back early in the second half.  Valparaiso came right back with a Bakari Evelyn and-one that matched their largest lead at 41-35 at the 13:56 mark.  Two huge buckets paid large dividends for UE.  Riley hit one from six feet before Taylor knocked down a triple to get the Aces back within one.  Both shots came with intense pressure from Valpo.
Evansville's stretch continued as a 16-2 run that was finished off by a Dainius Chatkevicius dunk to make it a 51-43 game inside of six minutes remaining.  John Kiser connected on his second from outside with just over three minutes on the clock to make it a one-possession game - 55-52.
Following a UE free throw, another VU bucket cut the UE lead to just a pair with 2:35 on the clock, but the Aces halted their rally from there.  Two more Taylor free throws in the final minute saw the lead grow back to six points before a Valpo shot made it a final of 63-59.
In the final box score, UE finished with the edge in most statistics, finishing with a 32-26 edge on the boards and a 46.8%-44.2% advantage in shooting.  UE also went 3-6 from outside.
"One thing is that we did not settle for 3's, we got to the paint more and Ryan did a great job of getting to the free throw line," K.J. Riley said. 
Two road games are up next for UE, who heads to Missouri State for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday before the squad makes the trek to Cedar Falls, Iowa to play UNI on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Courtesy: University of Evansville Athletics