Battling a winter storm to get to Des Moines, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team fell in its effort against Drake University by a final of 81-65 inside the Knapp Center on Saturday.
Ryan Taylor had a strong effort for UE (12-7, 2-4 MVC) as he notched 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Dru Smith finished the day with 14 points while sophomore K.J. Riley had 13
“Give them credit, they got out of the gate very well and we never recovered,” Aces head coach Marty Simmons said. “We just didn’t have much resistance today. We have to execute better offensively and get out in transition.”
Originally scheduled to leave Friday, the Purple Aces did not depart Evansville until Saturday morning and headed directly to the game from the airport.
Nick McGlynn led Drake (11-8, 5-1 MVC) with a career-high 23 points while Graham Woodward had 13. Five Bulldogs reached double figures.
Drake got off to a great start out of the gate as they recorded the first 11 points of the game. The Bulldogs went 4-of-6 from the field in the opening four minutes as Nick McGlynn scored six early points. Evansville missed its opening six attempts while having three shots blocked and turning it over twice.
Dru Smith got UE on the board with a runner down the lane five minutes in before Ryan Taylor hit his first shot on the next trip down the floor. While the offense looked to be getting back on track, the Bulldogs continued to crank in their offensive game as they pushed the lead to as many as 18 points at 24-6 midway through the half.
Over the next several minutes, the Aces cut into the DU advantage. UE missed its first six shots of the game, but hit 11 of the next 17 to make it a 10-point deficit at 36-26 inside of four minutes remaining in the half. Smith moved into double figures during the run.
The Bulldogs countered as it rained three’s on their end. Reed Timmer’s first long ball of the day ended a 7-0 run that put DU up 43-26. Smith hit an Aces triple on the other end, but Drake had the answer on the other end and headed into the half up 46-29. After getting within 10 points, the Aces connected on just 1 of their last 8 tries over the final three minutes.
Out of the break, Drake extended its lead to 20 for the first time as the opening four tallies of the second half gave them a 50-29 lead. K.J. Riley scored on a transition feed from Blake Simmons for the Aces first basket of the half, but seconds later, Timmer was true from outside, giving the Bulldogs a 53-32 lead.
In a game of runs, the Aces scored the next five to get just a bit closer at 53-37, but a 7-1 run by Drake pushed their lead to 22 points seven minutes into the latter stanza. The lead for Drake remained at 21 with under 9 minutes on the clock when the Aces start to push back. A 6-0 run, capped off by a nice drive to the basketball by Simmons, cut the deficit to 66-51 with 7:10 remaining. It was the closest UE had been in the second half.
As they had all day, Drake answered. Another 5-0 run stretched the advantage back to 20 at the 6:11 mark. The lead hovered around that margin over the final minutes with Drake completing the day with an 81-65 victory.
Indiana State is next up for the Aces as the teams clash on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. game inside the Ford Center.