Short-Handed Aces Battle But Fall To Sycamores

 Gasper Records A Double-Double Featuring A Career-High 26 Points To Lead Aces


Junior guard Kerri Gasper set a career-high with 26 points, adding 10 rebounds, as the University of Evansville fought through adversity in a 66-57 loss to Indiana State on Friday night inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse.

“To think what this team did what we did tonight based on what we’ve seen last 15 games, you would not have expected,” said Aces head coach Matt Ruffing. “We go from 11 players to six and two four players, two five players, no point guard, and a two and a three. I told our kids that the effort that we’ve been wanting and begging them for was shown today. We gave it all we had. I don’t think we left anything out there.”

Gasper led all scorers with 26 points while junior center Kelsi Scott joined Gasper with a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, tying a season-high for rebounds. Indiana State finished with four players in double-figures led by Regan Wentland who scored 18 points.

“Kerri Gasper played a heck of a game. She controlled the game and had to play point guard due to some injuries. I challenged her this week to start stepping up and start being the player she can be. Don’t wait for your senior year to have that moment and I thought tonight she did a great job.”

The Aces (3-18, 0-9 MVC) faced tests throughout the night starting with a pair of players exiting due to injury just 37 seconds into the contest. Coming into the contest with a short bench, Evansville grinded through the first quarter as it took a 3-2 lead on a three-pointer by Gasper. Indiana State (14-7, 6-4 MVC) jumped back in front with a 5-0, but the Aces again had an answer with a jumper by sophomore Macie Lively that trimmed the Sycamores lead to two at 7-5 nearing the midway point of the quarter. The see-saw battle in the opening frame ended with the Sycamores carrying a four-point, 15-11 advantage into the second quarter.

Once again, Evansville was presented with a challenge as another Purple Ace left the game due to an injury leaving them with just six available players. With UE up 18-17 with 6:59 left in the second quarter, the Sycamores mounted a 13-5 run to take a 30-23 advantage in the final minutes of the half. Gasper continued her impressive opening half as she closed the second period with a layup that gave her 10 points at the break and trimmed Indiana State’s advantage to 30-25 at the break.
In the third quarter, the Aces would not let Indiana State pull away. The Sycamores built as large as a 10-point lead with 2:18 left in the frame before sophomore Crimson Jones hit a layup with under a minute left in the quarter to push Evansville back within single-digits at 45-37 heading into the fourth quarter. Evansville was held to its lowest shooting percentage of the night in the third quarter as the Aces went just 3-14 (21.4%) from the field in the period while Indiana State shot 6-16 (37.5%) from the field in the third frame.

Indiana State came out aggressive to start the fourth quarter as the Sycamores built their lead to its largest point of the night at 53-37 with 7:40 remaining. The Aces manufactured one last push over the next four minutes as Evansville sliced the Sycamores advantage to just seven with 3:07 left on the clock. Over the final three minutes of play, Evansville sent Indiana State to the charity stripe six times where the Sycamores converted 10 of 12 attempts and held on for the 66-57 win.

The Aces dominated the boards, earning a 48-28 rebounding advantage over the Sycamores. Both teams shot relatively evenly in the contest as UE finished 35.2% (19-54) on the evening to Indiana State’s 36.7% (22-60).

Evansville has nearly a week off from competition before the Aces return to action on February 9 against Drake and February 11 versus UNI in an MVC weekend inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse.