EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -Marty Hill led the University of Evansville men’s basketball team with 15 points, but Missouri State led by 18 at the half and hung on for a 68-56 win over the Purple Aces on Wednesday night inside the Ford Center.
Hill led Evansville (10-16, 4-9 MVC) with his 15 tallies. He knocked down 7 of his 12 shots. K.J. Riley scored 10 points while Dainius Chatkevicius posted nine. Riley added five more free throws over six tries in the game while Chatkevicius has at least nine points in each of the last three games. It is the top streak in his time at UE.
“It was disappointing because we had a great crowd come out to support our guys and we just did not compete in the first half. Give MSU credit, they came out ready to play,” UE head men’s basketball coach Walter McCarty said. “Our guys came out much better and had more fire in the second half, but we need to do that for the whole game. Everyone understands that this game honors the team that plays the hardest and plays with toughness.”
Tulio Da Silva was the top scorer in the game, leading Missouri State (14-12, 8-5 MVC) with 17 points. He also had a team-high seven rebounds. Jarred Dixon and Ryan Kreklow finished with 15 points apiece.
In the opening half, Missouri State shot 73.9% on their way to a 42-24 halftime lead. The Bears connected on 17 out of 23 attempts and were 7-of-10 from outside. Evansville took an early 4-3 lead before MSU recorded eight in a row to take an 11-4 advantage at the 15:28 mark. Marty Hill knocked down his first trey of the night to end the run.
Evansville got within a pair at 13-11 on a K.J. Riley jumper before MSU tallied six more in a row to push their lead to eight. With just under eight minutes left, Shea Feehan knocked down a triples to cut the MSU lead to a pair at 24-22. That is when the Bears kicked it into gear. Over the remainder of the half, they outscored the Aces by an 18-2 margin to open up the 18-point halftime lead. Evansville was 1-for-1 from the field with four turnovers over the final 7+ minutes of the period. Marty Hill and K.J. Riley were the top scorers for UE in the opening 20 minutes, registering seven points apiece.
The tenacious Aces bunch regrouped during the break and it showed in early part of the second half. UE opened on a 12-2 run while the defense held the Bears to 0-for-9 from the floor to begin the half. Shamar Givance hit from outside before a Noah Frederking floater cut the deficit to just eight points - 44-36 - with 12 minutes on the clock.
Missouri State regained control with a 7-0 run that pushed the advantage back to 15 points. Evansville never gave up and K.J. Riley helped UE get closer with a pair of free throws that made it a 52-44 game with 6:37 left. From there, the Bears were able to close out and finish with the 68-56 triumph.
“We just did not play two halves tonight, we played much better in the second half but it took so much energy for us to make up that deficit,” senior Marty Hill said. “We just have to put two halves together and come out and play hard from the jump.”
Both squads had 26 rebounds on the night. After shooting 73.9% in the opening stanza, MSU was 5-of-18 (27.8%) in the second half and finished the game at 53.7%. Evansville shot 40.8% for the game.
On Sunday, UE is back inside the Ford Center with a 3 p.m. game against UNI.
Courtesy: UE Athletics