Aces Defeat Southern Illinois In Big Senior Day Win

first_imgUE Takes 75-44 Win Over Salukis EVANSVILLE, Ind. – In what may have been the top team performance of the season, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team led wire-to-wire as they earned a 75-44 Senior Day win over Southern Illinois at the Ford Center.Evansville (17-14, 7-11 MVC) opened the game on a 7-2 run and added to the lead from there, going up by as many as 34 points in the largest margin of win in a league game for UE since defeating Bradley, 67-35, on January 9, 2016.“We asked our guys to play for the seniors today and they did a great job today.  They knocked it out of the park,” Aces head coach Marty Simmons said.  “The team did a great job and we look forward to carrying this momentum to St. Louis.”Ryan Taylor was the leading scorer for the Aces for the ninth game in a row, posting 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting.  Dru Smith, playing in his first game since Feb. 10, scored 14 while Blake Simmons finished with 12 in his final home game.  Simmons, along with fellow seniors Duane Gibson and Dalen Traore, made the start on Saturday.  Gibson had a stellar game, posting 8 points and 8 assists while Traore had 2 points and 3 rebounds.“This was a big win for us, we hope this can give us some momentum heading into the tournament,” Gibson explained.Southern Illinois (19-12, 11-7 MVC) was Armon Fletcher and Tyler Smithpeters record 11 and 10 points, respectively.It was the senior class carrying the load early on for the Purple Aces, posting the first nine points of the game.  Duane Gibson had the first two buckets before Blake Simmons scored the next five UE points.  His triple gave his team a 7-2 lead.After SIU got within two, Dru Smith, playing his first game in two weeks, scored on a drive to the basket to push the lead to 11-7.  His basket set the Aces on a 13-0 run as the Salukis went scoreless for six minutes while missing seven shots in a row.  Tyler Smithpeters ended the drought for SIU with his second long ball of the day to make it a 20-10 game with 8:08 left in the half.Despite getting back within ten, the Saluki offense continued to struggle, finishing the half at 23.8%.  With under four minutes on the clock, Ryan Taylor down his second triple to push the lead to 17 and in the final seconds, Noah Frederking was true from downtown to send the Aces to the half with a 36-17 lead.  Evansville shot 62.5% in the opening stanza.Four of the first five UE shots found the bottom of the net to open the second half as the lead grew to 24 points at 46-22.  Taylor and Simmons each had tripled in the run.  With over eight minutes left in the contest, the lead reached 30 on a jumper by Gibson and the advantage grew to as many as 34 points when another Taylor triple pushed the lead to 73-39.  In the final minute, the Salukis hit a three to cut the final margin for the Aces to 31 – 75-44.UE completed the game shooting 56.4% while holding the Salukis to just 31.0%.  The Aces also finished with a 35-24 advantage in rebounding.Evansville picked up its 8th win in the last 10 Senior Day games and UE’s class of Duane Gibson, Blake Simmons, and Dalen Traore will remember it forever.“I could not have asked for a better day,” Simmons said.  “To have the kind of day we did is something that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.”For Traore, it was more than just a game.  During his postgame speech, he proposed to girlfriend Marly Solano and she said yes.“I was pretty confident all week, but I am so happy right now,” Traore said.  “I was not thinking about that beforehand, the game was my main focus.  All week we have been talking about how focused we wanted to be today.”His teammates joined him on the court for the proposal and explained what they mean to him.“The team is family to me.  These guys are my brothers.”Arch Madness in St. Louis is the next stop for the Purple Aces as they will open the tournament on Thursday.  The opponent and game time will be finalized as soon as the latest RPI is released on Sunday morning.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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