Three-point Shooting Gives Drake 83-69 Win Over Aces


DES MOINES, Iowa – Colt Ryan scored a game-high 25 points, but an 11-for-20 performance from three-point range helped Drake earn an 83-69 win over the University of Evansville men’s basketball team at the Knapp Center on Wednesday evening.

Ryan was just 4-of-16 for UE (11-7, 4-2 MVC) but posted a perfect 16-16 performance from the charity stripe. D.J. Balentine finished with a strong 13-point effort while Ned Cox chipped in 12. Drake (8-9, 2-4 MVC) was led by Chris Hines, who notched 21 points. Ben Simons finished with 18 while two other Bulldogs finished in double figures.

“You have to give them (Drake) resistance and cannot let them get the ball. I am just disappointed in our effort and ability to execute fundamentals tonight,” UE head coach Marty Simmons said. “Everything is built through practice and that is key. We have to get locked in heading to Indiana State on Saturday.”

Early on, each team looked to have the same plan in mind – getting the ball down low. The Aces connected on two out of their first four shots, but turned the ball over four times in the opening four minutes. Drake hit just one of its first eight attempts as UE held a 5-4 lead.

The offense kept cranking as D.J. Balentine found his shot, hitting his first four field goals, including a pair of treys as hit second one gave Evansville a 19-9 lead as the Aces hit 7 of their first 10 buckets. Ben Simons kept the Bulldogs in it, though, as his seven early points helped them cut the deficit to just one at 23-22. After starting the game 7-of-10 from the floor, UE hit just one of its next eight shots.

That all changed as Colt Ryan found the bottom of the net for the first time on the night as his three-pointer put Evansville on top by a 26-22 tally, but Drake kept rolling as junior Seth VanDeest kept drawing fouls on UE’s forwards while scoring nine points. They knotted the game at 28-28 before an 11-4 run gave them a 39-32 advantage as DU hit three quick long-range shots. The Bulldogs started the tilt 1-of-7 beyond the arc, but hit three of its next four in the run. Evansville countered with a 6-0 run of its own to trail by just one at the break, 39-38. Ryan scored a total of 13 points in two games versus Drake last season, but matched that total in the first half. Balentine notched ten in the first frame.

The run continued into the second stanza as Ryan tied the game back up at 40-39 with a bucket on Evansville’s first possession. That lead was short-lived, though, as the threes kept raining down for the Bulldogs as three of their first four of the second half were good. The Aces kept up the pace as they made their opening six free throws while Ned Cox drained his second 3-pointer. Their efforts put UE up 57-56 before Simons responded with consecutive shots as the Bulldogs’ lead opened up to 63-57. Over a stretch of over six minutes, Evansville missed nine shots in a row as Drake extended its advantage.

Chris Hines joined in on the three-point barrage as his trey capped off a 10-0 run before another one gave Drake its first double-digit lead at 69-59. Evansville’s offensive struggles continued as they missed 14 buckets in a row while the Bulldogs embarked on an 18-3 run to put the game out of reach for the Aces. Egidijus Mockevicius ended the stretch with a bucket with just over 3 minutes left ending a field goal drought of ten minutes. While the bucket helped, the defense could not stop the Drake attack as the Bulldogs hit seven out of nine threes to open the second half.

Second-half shooting was all the difference as UE was just 7-29 (24.1%) while Drake connected on 15 out of 23 attempts, 65.2%. Drake shot 51% for the game while holding the Aces to just 33%. The Aces did perform very well from the line, hitting 26 out of 28 free throws.

Indiana State is up next for UE as the Aces travel to Terre Haute to face the Sycamores on Saturday evening. Tip is set for 7:05 p.m. CT at the Hulman Center.