Aces Men’s Hoops drops 12th straight, on the road at UIC

University of Evansville men's basketball program.
University of Evansville men's basketball program.(WFIE)
Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 11:36 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the first time since scoring 21 points against Bellarmine on Dec. 21, Kenny Strawbridge Jr. reached the 20-point mark in Saturday’s 70-61 loss to UIC inside Credit Union 1 Arena.

Strawbridge drained nine of his career-high 23 attempts in the game to score a game-high of 20 points.  Antoine Smith Jr. and Marvin Coleman II registered 10 apiece.  UIC was led by Steven Clay’s 17 points.  Jace Carter posted 15 points and 12 rebounds while Tre Anderson added 15 tallies.

“We had some good moments today but we need to sustain and build on it,” UE head coach David Ragland said.  “I thought we did a lot of good things in the first half and took UIC out of their rhythm.  Even when things were not looking good in the second half, our guys continued to respond and fight back.”

UIC opened the game with a 3-pointer but it was Evansville who would quickly take the lead and hold it for the majority of the period.  Yacine Toumi posted six of the Purple Aces’ first eight points of the game while Kenny Strawbridge Jr. took a steal the length of the floor for a layup that put UE up 8-5.

Triples from Marvin Coleman II and Strawbridge solidified a 14-9 edge and UE would continue to add to it.  Antoine Smith Jr. converted Evansville’s third triple of the game at the 6:17 mark to give his team a 26-16 lead.  Unfortunately, the rest of the half belonged to the Flames, who outscored the Aces by a 13-4 margin to cut UE’s lead to 30-29 at the half.

With 2:05 remaining in the half, Evansville held a 30-24 lead before UIC took advantage of a late turnover to complete the half on a 5-0 run to make it a 1-point game.

Two free throws on the first possession of the final period gave UIC its first lead since the opening minutes of the game.  Smith wasted little time on the ensuing trip down the floor as his putback saw Evansville retake the advantage.  Evansville went up by a 34-31 score with the Flames countering with six in a row.

As the game entered the final 13 minutes, a triple pushed the UIC lead to 44-37 while making it a double-digit game for the first time when a jumper by Christian Jones gave the Flames a 48-37 lead.  Evansville had opportunities to get back within single digits but UIC slowly added to its lead, which held strong at 59-43 inside of four minutes remaining in the game.

After UE made a free throw to get within 15, UIC put the game out of reach with a 5-0 run that made it a 20-point game.  Despite the deficit, the Aces continued to fight back, getting with 12 with just over a minute showing on the clock.  Preston Phillips added a dunk in the final minute to cut the deficit to nine, but the run came up just short with the Flames taking the game by a 70-61 final.

In total, the Flames opened the second half on a 35-14 run to establish the 20-point advantage.  They shot 43.5% for the game but excelled in the final stanza, shooting 53.8%.  Evansville wrapped up the day at 33.9%.

UE returns home on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game against UNI.