Evansville erases 20-point deficit to pick up overtime win


Evansville erases 20-point deficit to pick up overtime win

Aces defeat Mocs by a final of 85-77 

NOVEMBER 25, 2023

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team staged one of the largest rallies in Missouri Valley Conference history to defeat Chattanooga in overtime by a final of 85-77 inside McKenzie Arena.

With 11:40 remaining in regulation, the Purple Aces trailed Chattanooga by a 62-42 margin.  From that point on, UE outscored the Mocs by a 43-15 margin to pick up the improbable road win.  Chattanooga was shooting 53.3% (24-of-45) from the field and 47.8% (11-of-23) at that point.  Over the final portion of regulation and overtime, the defense for UE held the Mocs to 4-for-24 from the field and 3-of-18 from long range (both 16.7%).  The comeback by Evansville tied the 8th-largest comeback in MVC history.

“This was a huge win for us; our guys never gave up and we continued to battle regardless of how many points we were down,” Purple Aces head coach David Ragland explained. “We challenged the group with about 11:40 left and said, “Do we believe?”  Seeing the looks in their eyes, we could see that they believed and they responded the right way.”

Evansville’s win gives the program its best start since an identical 5-0 mark to open the 2017-18 campaign while matching the win total from the entire 2022-23 season.  Anchoring the comeback was Ben Humrichous.  He finished with a game-high 28 points, 18 of which came during the Aces comeback.  He was 11-for-21 from the floor while draining five triples.  Antonio Thomas finished with 11 points while Tanner Cuff and Chuck Bailey III scored 10 and 9, respectively.  Cuff picked up his first double-double at UE, hauling in 11 rebounds.

Yacine Toumi hit his second triple of the season to open the scoring as the Aces began the day with a 7-2 lead.  Ben Humrichous and Antonio Thomas added baskets in the early stretch.  The Mocs rallied right back with seven in a row to take their first lead of the afternoon at 9-7 five minutes in.  Cam Haffner tied the score with a floater, but the Chattanooga run continued as they tacked on five more to go up 14-9.  In total, the Mocs outscored UE by a 12-2 margin.

Ben Humrichous hit from downtown and Tanner Cuff added his first basket of the day as the Aces tied it up at 14-14 at the 13:09 mark.  Another 3-pointer put Chattanooga back on top, but UE staged a rally of its own to go up 24-20 near the midway point of the period.  Gage Bobe hit a triple to highlight the run.

Things continued to go back and forth with Humrichous’ second long ball of the day knotting the score at 29-29 with exactly four minutes showing on the clock.  Over the final minutes of the stanza, the Mocs would retake the advantage and head to halftime up by a 40-36 score.  Humrichous had a game-high 10 points in the opening 20 minutes.

In the win over Ball State, Evansville outscored the opposition by a 17-0 margin in the opening moments of the latter half.  It was a different story on Friday with UTC doing the damage.  Six in a row by the Mocs, coupled with a 0-for-7 start by the Aces, made it a 46-36 contest in the first three minutes.  After Evansville scored four in a row, Chattanooga reeled off 13 consecutive points to cap off a 19-4 run to open the half and go up 59-40.

Chattanooga extended the lead to 20 (62-42) before the Aces fought back.  Bobe’s second triple completed a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 13 with 9:13 left in the contest.  Two minutes later, Humrichous made it ten Evansville points in a row with another triple to cut the Mocs lead to 62-52.  Rudy Fitzgibbons III ended a scoreless stretch that exceeded five minutes with a three, but the Aces posted the next four to make it a 65-56 game entering the final five minutes.

Another triple by the Mocs reestablished the double figure lead on the ensuing possession, but Tanner Cuff immediately drained a three to make it a 9-point game once again.  With 3:31 on the clock, Joshua Hughes nailed a triple that got his squad within six tallies.  As the contest entered its final two minutes, Humrichous took full control.  With 2:06 remaining, his triple made it a 3-point game and, following a Chattanooga turnover, he was true from outside once again to tie the score at 68-68 with 98 ticks left.

Two free throw misses by the Mocs gave the ball back to UE and Humrichous converted a jumper to give the Aces their first lead since the first half.  UTC knocked down a pair of free throw tries with 33 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Riding the wave of momentum from their comeback, the Aces got right back to work in overtime.  Humrichous had a 3-point play to get things started while Antonio Thomas hit a pair of free throws to make it a 75-70 game less than a minute in.  Thomas added a field goal and Cuff converted a pair of free throws to cap off a 9-0 run to open the OT period.  Chattanooga posted its first overtime points with 1:02 remaining, but the UE lead was too much to overcome.  As the clock reached zeroes, Evansville finished off an 85-77 triumph.

Five Mocs reached double figures with Honor Huff tallying 17.  Sam Alexis registered 10 points while hauling in a game-high 15 boards.  Evansville finished with a 41-39 rebounding edge while outshooting the Mocs by a 42.6%-40.6% tally.

Tomorrow, the Aces complete the Coke Zero Sugar Classic against Southeast Missouri State.  Tip is set for 1 p.m. CT.