UE Falls In Hard-Fought Contest At New Mexico


K.J. Riley recorded a career-best 13 points while junior Marty Hill made his season debut as the University of Evansville men’s basketball team fell to New Mexico by a final of 78-59 on Wednesday evening inside The Pit.

Riley did most of his scoring from the free throw line, hitting 7 out of 10 attempts.  He also had three field goals for the Purple Aces (5-2).  Joining him in double figures was Dru Smith, who had 10 points.  Blake Simmons hit a pair of triples on his way to a 9-point effort.  Dainius Chatkevicius, making his first career start, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as UE finished with a 39-30 advantage on the boards.

“Give New Mexico credit, they did a great job of running their press and forcing turnovers,” Aces head coach Marty Simmons said.  “We had some good opportunities tonight, but a big key was our inability to take care of the basketball.”

Leading the Lobos (3-4) were Sam Logwood and Troy Simons, who had 14 points apiece.  Chris McNeal (13), Makuach Maluach (10) and Anthony Mathis (10) also posted double digits.

Troy Simons started the evening off with a triple in the opening possession before the Aces rebounded with four in a row to take their first lead of the game on a layup by Dainius Chatkevicius.  From there, New Mexico mustered up a 13-1 run to open up a 16-11 lead midway through the first half.

Evansville had a tough offensive stretch, going 2-for-14 to start the game, but with nine minutes remaining in the opening stanza, junior Marty Hill made his season debut.  With the Aces facing a 9-point deficit, Hill scored on his first UE possession as the Aces would go on to score nine in a row.  Noah Frederking and Duane Gibson each had buckets before Dalen Traore hit an and-one to get UE within a pair at 16-14.

Just as fast as UE rallied, the Lobos made a run of their own as another Simons trey sparked a 5-0 stretch.  K.J. Riley ended the stretch as he drew a foul with three seconds on the shot clock and hit both of the ensuing free throws to make it a 21-16 game with five minutes on the clock.

With one minutes remaining in the half, Chris McNeal was able to convert a 4-point play to give the Lobos their largest lead of the night at 35-25.  On the other end, Frederking drew a foul on a nice shot fake and hit both free throws to cut the deficit to 35-27 at the break.

On UE’s first trip down the floor in the second half, Blake Simmons nailed a 3-pointer before a 3-point play by Frederking saw the Aces cut the deficit to just two tallies at 35-33 less than three minutes into the half.  Following a triple from New Mexico, another long ball from Simmons made it a one possession game once again at 40-37.

A 10-2 run by New Mexico changed the complexion of the contest.  Simons hit another one from long range as the Lobos took their biggest edge of the night.  From there, they added to the advantage in the final minutes, going up by as many as 24 points at 78-54 before the Aces closed in the end to make it a 78-59 final.

Oakland City is the next opponent for the Purple Aces as the teams will square off at the Ford Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.