EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team forced the University of Evansville to overtime but fell 71-68 Monday evening at the Ford Center. USI concludes the exhibition schedule Friday when it visits Purdue University for a 7 p.m. (CDT) game.
The defense was the name of the game for the first five minutes of the game as Evansville was only able to generate a 3-2 lead. The Aces would extend the lead to as many as eight points, 23-15, with 7:57 left in the opening half when the Eagles made their run.
USI cut the deficit to two, 24-22, on a lay-up by junior forward Josh Price, but Evansville responded by re-extending the margin to six points at 28-22. The Eagles scored seven of the last nine points to send the game into halftime tied, 29-29 when junior forward Clayton Hughes slammed home a dunk as time expired in the opening 20 minutes.
Hughes led the Eagles during the first half with nine points on four-of-six from the field, while USI, as a team, shot 40.6 percent from the field (13-32).
In the second half, USI posted its first lead of the game, 33-32, before Evansville used an 8-0 run to grab a seven-point advantage, 40-33, by the first media timeout. The Eagles erased the deficit once more with an 11-4 run to knot the game at 44-44 when Price converted a layup with 9:12 to play.
The Eagles would grab the lead again at 5:17, 54-53, on a steal and a layup by freshman guard/forward Chance Coyle. Both teams would trade leads as the game came down to the wire in regulation. USI junior forward Emmanuel Little tied the game at 59-59 with a pair of free throws before Evansville’s Artur Labinowicz missed three free throws with 0.5 seconds left to force extra time.
USI grabbed a quick two-point lead in overtime, 61-59, on junior forward Justin Carpenter’s layup. The Aces, however, surged with six quick points to retake the lead, 65-61. The Eagles rallied once more, 65-65, on a pair of jumpers by Little with 2:09 left.
The 65-65 tie would be the last one for the Eagles as the Aces scored six of the final nine points to earn the exhibition victory.
Individually, Little led USI with a double-double, scoring 20 points on six-of-15 from the field and eight-of-11 from the line and grabbing 11 rebounds. Hughes joined Little in double-digits with 11 points, on four-of-seven from the field and three-of-five from the charity stripe.
The Eagles, as a team, shot 42.9 percent from the field (24-56) and tied the Aces on the boards, 41-41.
Following the conclusion of the exhibition schedule Friday at Purdue, the Eagles open the regular season November 8 when they visit Hillsdale College on day one of the G-MAC/GLVC Crossover Classic in Hillsdale, Michigan. USI finishes the first weekend of action on November 9 when it plays Malone University at Hillsdale.