EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Three University of Evansville men’s basketball players scored in double figures, but a 19-point second half by Southern Illinois guard Lance Jones lifted the Salukis to a 63-57 win over the Purple Aces in Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener inside the Banterra Center.
Leading Evansville (2-5, 0-1 MVC) was Jawaun Newton. The junior hit five shots while recording three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Just behind him was Noah Frederking, who tallied 12. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. Shamar Givance had an efficient 11-point game. He was 4-of-7 from the floor, 2-for-2 from outside while adding five rebounds and three assists.
“They are a really good team playing at home and that is the way the Valley is. You have to execute in the half court against a Valley team. We did that really well on occasions but had too many empty ones where we were not able to generate a shot,” UE head coach Todd Lickliter said. “We are getting closer; that is the great thing about this team – they are learning on the fly while we’re playing. This was a tough challenge and I feel like our guys met that challenge.”
Pacing the Salukis (7-0, 1-0 MVC) was Jones, who registered all 19 of his points in the second half. Marcus Domask finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The opening 20 minutes of play was a defensive struggle with the Salukis taking a 28-19 lead into the break. Southern Illinois scored the opening four tallies of the game before Jax Levitch got the Aces on the board with a triple. SIU responded with five in a row to open up a 9-3 lead three minutes in.
Hitting nine of the first 15 attempts, SIU pushed its lead to as many as 12 points when a pair of free throws extended their lead to 25-13 inside of six minutes remaining. Neither team could find the bottom of the net over the final moments of the half with the last 3:43 of the period being scoreless. SIU hit went just 1-of-12 from the field over the final 7:51 of the stanza while the Aces could not take advantage from the free throw line, going 0-4 in the first period.
Out of the break, the Salukis matched their largest lead when Lance Jones converted a 3-point play on the first possession. Shamar Givance got those points right back in UE’s first trip down the floor, nailing his first triple of the day. Following a Saluki miss, Givance was true from outside once again, cutting the deficit to six just over a minute into the period.
Southern Illinois countered with four in a row, but the Aces continued to rally. Field goals from Givance, Noah Frederking and Iyen Enaruna were part of a 6-0 stretch that cut UE’s deficit to just four points – 35-31 – at the 15-minute mark. The Salukis slowly regained control and were able to match their largest lead of 12 points with 6:13 remaining when a free throw by Lance Jones gave SIU a 52-40 lead.
Evansville used that as motivation with senior Noah Frederking scoring seven points over a 74-second span to make it a 6-point game. He capped off the rally by taking a feed from Jax Levitch and turning it into a triple that made it a 55-49 contest in favor of SIU. Things got even closer with a minute left when two free throws by Newton brought the Aces within five, but the Aces were unable to get any closer with the Salukis hanging on for the 63-57 win.
Samari Curtis posted seven points for UE while Jax Levitch hit a pair of triples to finish with six points and a game-high eight boards. SIU finished the night with a 33-31 rebounding edge while shooting 41.7% to UE’s 38.8%.
Tomorrow, the teams will be right back on the floor of the Banterra Center for a 5 p.m. game. ESPN+ along with the Purple Aces Radio Network will have the coverage.
Courtesy: UE Athletics