SPRINGFIELD, MO. (WFIE) - In Tuesday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team dropped a 65-52 game against Missouri State at JQH Arena.
Sophomore DeAndre Williams had a double-double in his first MVC game, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds. Sam Cunliffe added 13 points and 4 rebounds for UE (9-5, 0-1 MVC). Leading Missouri State (7-7, 1-0 MVC) Tulio Da Silva, who had 14 points and 6 rebounds. He hit six of his seven attempts. Lamont West and Isiaih Mosley tallied 13 apiece.
“We played really well in the first half, but Missouri State really got going in the second half,” interim head coach Bennie Seltzer said. “We are not going to make any excuses at all, we did not play well in the second half and have some things we need to fix.”
Senior K.J. Riley got the Aces started on the right foot, knocking down a long jumper in the first possession of the game. Trailing 5-3, UE scored the next six points on their way to a 9-5 lead. Sam Cunliffe, Riley and Artur Labinowicz each scored in the run.
A 10-1 run saw the Aces open up a 13-6 lead before it would reach double figures on a Noah Frederking triple that made it an 18-8 game with nine minutes remaining in the half. Following a triple from the Bears, Shamar Givance banked a trey of his own that pushed the lead back to ten on the next possession.
With 2:23 remaining, another Williams bucket gave UE its largest lead at 30-17. Missouri State was able to cut their deficit to eight as Evansville went into halftime with a 31-23 advantage.
After cutting into the 13-point deficit in the final minutes of the first half, the Bears continued to claw their way back in the opening moments of the second. MSU scored the opening five tallies in the first three minutes to get back within three. Cunliffe got Evansville back on track with an emphatic dunk that pushed the lead back to five.
Despite the basket, the Bears continued to rally as a 13-2 run to open the half saw them take a 36-33 lead on a Gaige Prim layup. From there, the Bears would lead for the remainder of the game. They outscored the Aces by a 42-21 margin in the second half.
For the game, the Bears shot 49% including a 59.3% total in the second half, draining 16 of 27 attempts. Evansville finished at 36.7%. MSU had a 37-29 edge on the boards.
On Saturday, the Aces head back to the Ford Center for a conference game against Valparaiso. Tip is set for 6 p.m.