Aces Put Up Epic Battle In Gulf Coast Showcase Opener


    UE and Rice Play To Triple Overtime

     ESTERO, Fla. – In one of the most efficient games that you will ever see, Antoine Smith Jr. was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field on his way to a career-high 24 points in the opening game of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Monday at Hertz Arena.  Smith along with Jawaun Newton were the top performers for the University of Evansville men’s basketball team, who dropped a hard-fought triple overtime contest to Rice.

    With the loss, UE (2-4) will take on the loser of today’s Oakland/Vermont game at 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  Smith’s performance included a 6-of-6 showing from 3-point range.  Newton had a career-high of his own in the game, finishing with 30 points in an effort that saw him go 12-of-25 from the field while tying for the team lead with 7 rebounds.  Evan Kuhlman and Noah Frederking also chipped in 7 boards.  Frederking finished with 16 points while Shamar Givance and Kuhlman scored 12 and 10, respectively.  Givance led the way with five assists.  Rice (4-1) was led by a 30-point, 12-rebounds game from Max Fieldder.

    It was an unbelievable start for the Aces, who started the game 3-for-3 from outside with Antoine Smith Jr. and Noah Frederking draining triples to cap off a 9-2 start. Smith hit two in the early run before another at the 16:43 mark gave UE a 12-4 edge.

    Rice scored five in a row to cut the deficit to a single point just over a minute later before Evansville countered with a 5-0 run of its own.  Following a second-chance basket by Evan Kuhlman, Jawaun Newton connected from downtown.  With the half nearing the midway point, UE took its first double digit lead of the day with none other than Antoine Smith Jr. getting it done.  His fourth outside make in four attempts made it a 26-16 game.

    Evansville added four more to push the lead 14 points before the Owls chipped in over the final minutes.  Rice made it a 30-24 game with 5:15 on the clock before the Aces settled for a 39-29 lead at the half.  UE shot 51.7% overall and 46.7% (7/15) from outside in the opening period with Smith leading all players with 12 points.

    After the Owls converted the first field goal of the second half, Smith improved his 3-point tally to 5-for-5 to put Evansville on top, 42-31.  UE’s advantage would be extended to 15 points with 14:13 left in the contest.  After a triple from Kuhlman, Jawaun Newton picked up three points the old-fashioned way to make it a 53-38 game.

    The ensuing stretch belonged to Rice, who would hit their next five baskets to close the gap to four with the game entering the final 10 minutes.  Max Fiedler scored 11 in a row for Rice as they made it a 56-52 contest.  Noah Frederking drained his third trey to help UE get back on track, but the hot-shooting Owls continued a stretch of eight makes in a row to keep the Aces within two possessions.

    While Rice was making its run, the Aces were putting up impressive numbers of their own, going 6-for-8 to hold a 63-57 edge with eight minutes remaining.  The next RU possession saw Travis Evee hit the 7th 3-pointer of the day for Rice to get them back within a possession for the first time since the first half.

    With 1:13 on the clock, the comeback for Rice was complete when a 3-point play tied the game at 71-71.  In the final 20 minutes, the Aces retook a 4-point lead but Rice answered both times to knot the game at 75-75 to send the game to overtime.  Two free throws to open overtime gave Rice their first lead of the game at 77-75.

    Givance found Smith under the basket as Evansville opened the OT period with a make to tie it up.  That would be the first of three ties in the extra session before Evansville was able to wrestle away an 82-81 lead inside the final minute with a free throw.  With 2.3 seconds left, the Owls made one of their two free throws to send the game into a second overtime.  The second extra period saw the Owls get right on the board with a 3-point play before taking a 5-point lead.  Newton put UE on the board with his eighth field goal.  With under three minutes on the clock and trialing by four, Evan Kuhlman knocked down his second triple to get his team within one at 88-87.

    Rice once again pushed its lead to four points under the 2-minute mark, but it was Newton pulling off another 3-point play to make it a 1-point game at 92-91.  Following a bucket by the Owls, it was Smith grabbing an offensive board and adding the putback to get UE within one tally.  Each time the Aces got back in it, the Owls had the answer, but with 20 ticks showing on the clock, Noah Frederking was fouled on a 3-point attempt and connected on all three tries to tie it at 96-96 and send it into the first triple overtime game for UE since 2019 against Morgan State.

    Just as they did in the second overtime, Rice registered the opening five points.  Frederking’s 16th point of the afternoon got UE on the board with 90 ticks left but on the other end, a triple by Rice was too much to overcome as the Owls finished with the 109-104 win.




    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here