Led by D.J. Balentine's game-high 20 points, five Purple Aces finished in double figures as the squad picked up a 96-61 victory over Grambling at the Ford Center.
Balentine hit 5-of-12 shots for UE (7-6) along with a 6-6 effort from the charity stripe and seven assists. Jaylon Brown set his career mark with 14 points. The freshman from Fishers, Ind. was a perfect 5-5 from the floor while knocking down his first 3-pointer since the season opener versus Martin Methodist.
Blake Simmons tallied 14 points and a career-best 6 assists and 3 steals while Egidijus Mockevicius and Duane Gibson each finished the day with ten points.
"It was nice to see contributions from everybody today," Aces head coach Marty Simmons said. "I thought J.B. (Jaylon Brown) was outstanding off the bench, Christian Benzon gave us some great minutes; everyone did extremely well and contributed today."
Evansville knocked down its first five shots of the game on its way to a 10-3 lead in the opening three minutes. Duane Gibson hit a pair of buckets to give the Aces an early advantage. Terry Rose got Grambling (1-7) on the board with a trey as the Tigers utilized their outside shooting to cut the deficit to just two points at 10-8.
Grambling made it 3-6 from long range as Richard Freeman hit a trey to make it a 17-15 game seven minutes into the contest. Another hot shooting stretch for UE, this one of the 4-for-5 variety, gave UE its largest lead at 27-17. Blake Simmons capped off the stretch with his first 3-pointer of the day as Jaylon Moore, Jaylon Brown and Christian Benzon all made their way into the scorebook.
Despite a 12-2 first-half disparity on the offensive glass, the Purple Aces continued to add to the advantage. Inside of three minutes remaining, D.J. Balentine hit a nice backhand layup to give UE a 36-22 lead before Grambling settled for a halftime score of 42-29. Hitting 4 out of 7 attempts was Simmons as he led all players with ten points at the break.
Over the first two minutes of the second stanza, the Purple Aces reeled off 10 of the first 11 points as Balentine posted five in that opening stretch as the UE lead reached 22. The Tigers fought back with the next four tallies before the Aces hit three fast break layups in a row.
Nine minutes into the half, Evansville's lead reached a game-high of 34 points as Balentine hit back-to-back threes while Jaylon Brown had a 6-0 stretch of his own to extend the lead. With 40 seconds remaining, the lead reached as many as 37 points before the final 96-61.
A'Torri Shine led the Tigers with 13 points while Antwan Scott posted 10. The Tigers were held to 37.3% shooting while the Aces shot 59.6%, their second-best effort this season. Evansville dished out 27 assists on 34 makes, topping the previous season highs of 24 versus Valparaiso and Anderson.
Today's contest was the final non-conference outing of the season as the Aces open up Missouri Valley Conference play on Wednesday evening with a trip to Drake. Tip is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.