EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -In one of the most hard-nosed contests in recent memory, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team was edged by SMU on Monday in a 59-57 defeat at the Ford Center.
DeAndre Williams was the top performer for the Purple Aces (3-1), totaling 13 points and 8 rebounds. Artur Laninowicz and Noah Frederking finished with 12 apiece. Labinowicz had another stellar effort from the free throw line, knocking down 7 out of 8 tries. Frederking did his damage from outside, hitting three triples.
The difference in the contest came on the glass as SMU (4-0) outrebounded the Aces by a 47-25 tally. That included a 17-3 margin on the offensive side.
“Going in, we told them this team averages 15 points per game just on second chance points. If we keep them off the class, we win the game,” Aces head coach Walter McCarty explained. “If we clean up just a few of those rebounds, we win the game. Our guys need to engage and understand what makes other teams successful.”
“They had 17 offensive rebounds; that was 17 times we could have gotten out in transition and attempted shots ourselves. We played hard; there were times we forced up a few shots. Our offense is really good, we can put a lot of pressure on people – but we have to grab rebounds.”
John Hall got the Aces on the board with a triple before DeAndre Williams gave UE a 5-0 lead. SMU scored the next five to tie it up at the 16-minute mark before Noah Frederking drained a three to put UE back in front. Sam Cunilffe found Artur Labinowicz for a triple on the fast break that gave UE a 14-9 lead with 10:37 remaining in the half.
SMU changed the course of the game, scoring the next 13 points over the next five minutes. Evansville missed seven shots in a row while turning the ball over twice. Williams got Evansville back on track, drilling a three with an even five minutes on the clock that made it a 22-17 game in favor of the Mustangs. The Aces got one points closer in the final four minutes as they went into halftime trailing by a score of 25-21. Defense was the name of the game in the first half as the Mustangs finished at 30% while the Aces completed the opening 20 minutes shooting 28.6%.
The Aces came out of the break with a renewed focus and posted the opening four points to tie the game at 25-25. DeAndre Williams turned a steal into a dunk for the first two tallies before the defense forced a shot clock violation and K.J. Riley hit two free throws on the next trip down the floor to tie it up. After SMU retook a 4-point lead, Frederking took a feed from Williams for his second trey to make it a 31-30 game.
After UE made the run, the Mustangs were able to extend the lead back out to six (38-32) whem Ethan Chargois was true from downtown for the second time. Evansville never gave up and it paid off when John Hall and Labinowicz hit back-to-back buckets to tie it at 38-38 as the second half closed in on the midway point.
K.J. Riley put the lead back on Evansville’s side with a pair of free throws with 7:12 remaining. After SMU tied it up, Hall knocked down a triple that made it a 47-44 game. SMU countered with a 7-0 stretch that put them up by four with under five minutes left. The Aces fought back as Frederking’s second triple of the game cut the deficit to one with just over three minutes left. In the final minute, Labinowcz added two more free throws that got Evansville back within a pair, but a huge offensive board for the Mustangs saw them convert two more free throws to go up 58-54 inside the final 10 seconds.
Frederking added another 3-pointer with just over a second left, but SMU was able to hold on for the 59-57 win.
“We knew what they were going to do, they are long and athletic, we just could not box out the way we needed to,” Artur Labinowicz exclaimed after the contest. “All of us played very hard. We did some good things; we played well defensively and took some charges. It’s a long season, we can’t let one loss impact us, we just have to move onto the next day.”
Tyson Jolly and Ethan Chargois led SMU with 15 points each. Isiaha Mikehad 11 points and a game-high 13 boards. Neither team was able to find a groove offensively. Evansville finished the game shooting 35.4% while the defense held SMU to 37.3%.
“They (our team) are all disappointed – I thought we had a good game plan,” McCarty added. “We just need to get back to who we are. Neither of us shots particularly well tonight, the game was won on the glass. We all just need to really evaluate ourselves, our games and what makes us successful.”
This weekend, the Aces travel to Nassau, Bahamas for the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase. UE will play three games running Friday through Sunday, beginning on Friday evening with a 7 p.m. CT game against East Carolina.
Text Courtesy: UE Athletics