NORMAL, IL (WFIE) - Sophomore Evan Kuhlman scored a career-high 14 points while Marty Hill matched that mark as the University of Evansville men’s basketball team dropped a 58-46 game to Illinois State on Saturday afternoon inside Redbird Arena.
The effort for Kuhlman eclipsed his previous mark of 12 points, which came at Xavier earlier this season. He was 4-8 from the field and 3-6 from long range. Hill knocked down six buckets and a pair of triples for the Aces (7-8, 1-1 MVC). Phil Fayne scored a game-high 20 points to pace Illinois State (8-7, 1-1 MVC).
“I thought we did pretty well today in some ways, but we turned the ball over too much and could not get in a nice rhythm,” Aces head coach Walter McCarty said. “We had a lot of opportunities to shoot the basketball, but just did not make shots.”
John Hall gave Evansville its first lead of the day when his triple gave UE a 7-4 lead three minutes in. Marty Hill made it 2-for-2 from outside to start the game when his three pushed the lead to 10-6. The Aces were scoreless for six minutes, going 0-5 with five turnovers in that span. Shea Feehan got UE back on track when his layup cut the ISU lead to 13-12 midway through the half.
Evan Kuhlman knocked down a triple with 6:06 on the clock to get UE within a possession (17-15) before Illinois State reeled off the next four to take their largest lead at 21-15 with under five minutes remaining. Hill and K.J. Riley hit buckets in the final minutes to make it a 23-19 game in favor of the Redbirds at the break.
Kuhlman was true from outside for the second time in the game to get UE on the board in the second half to cut the ISU lead to a pair at 24-22. On the next possession, the Aces had a chance to take the lead but a triple spun around the rim before going out. ISU took advantage, posting the next five to open up a 29-22 lead three minutes in.
Evansville was 1-for-8 from the field to begin the final half, but Marty Hill scored on a nice feed from Kuhlman to cut the gap to five once again. A few possessions later, Riley attacked the basket with his second field goal of the day to make it a one-possession game at 31-28. After two ISU buckets, Kuhlman continued his solid day, getting fouled on a 3-point attempt before converting all three free throw attempts to make it a 35-31 game with under 12 minutes left in the game.
The Aces continued to fight back as Kuhlman reached his career scoring high when his 13th point cut the gap to a pair – 35-33 – near the midway point of the half. Just as fast as UE got within a possession, Illinois State responded with a 7-0 run that gave them their largest lead at 42-34. Hill was the hero on the other end, nailing his second 3-pointer to end the run.
ISU quickly rebounded, extending their lead to 11 with six minutes left. An 11-2 run saw them put the game out of reach, going up 54-39 with three minutes left before winning by a final of 58-46.
Both defenses played outstanding as the Aces held ISU to 39% shooting and Evansville finished the game shooting 32.7%. Hall was the leading rebounder for UE, hauling in eight. UE was on the losing end of the rebounding battle by a 39-35 final.
On Tuesday, UE welcomes Loyola to the Ford Center in a 7 p.m. game before hosting Indiana State on Saturday, January 12 at 1 p.m.