Christian Benzon had a career-high 9 points while Egidijus Mockevicius grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the University of Evansville men's basketball team to a 95-60 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday afternoon at the Ford Center.
Benzon knocked down three of his four shots and hit all three free throw attempts. D.J. Balentine was the top scorer for the Purple Aces (8-2) as he scored 20 points. Mockevicius finished with 16 while he led everyone with 18 caroms. Blake Simmons also recorded a double-digit outing, finishing with 11.
“Coach always says to be ready,” Benzon said. “When I got my chance I was able to capitalize.”
As a team, Evansville grabbed 58 rebounds. It was the first time UE had that many since December of 2008 against SIU Edwardsville when the Aces finished with 61.
Mississippi Valley State (0-11) was led by a 25-point game from Marcus Romain. He hit 7 out of 18 shots and knocked down 10 free throws to lead all scorers. Isaac Williams totaled 10 for the day.
"We did a better job in the 2nd half of not fouling," head coach Marty Simmons said. "We started off sloppy but our guys got better as the game went on. After they cut it to 11 in the 2nd half, we were really able to turn it on."
It was a slow start for the Purple Aces as they missed their first seven shots, but were able to score their early points from the charity stripe. MVSU took a 7-4 advantage, but a Balentine triple gave UE its first lead at 9-8. What turned into a 1-12 start from the floor was ended when Mislav Brzoja nailed a triple to put UE up 12-9. After a Harris Brown triple, Brzoja struck again as the Aces took an 18-15 advantage.
While the threes were falling, UE missed its first eight shots from inside, but Jaylon Brown ended that at the 11:10 mark as UE went up 20-15. Evansville went up by 18 in the final minutes of the half before taking a 48-33 lead into the break.
The Delta Devils made a run in the opening minutes of the second half, getting within 11 at 60-49 with 14:24 left in the contest. From there, it was all Aces. They outscored MVSU by a 35-11 score in the final 13:56 to take the 95-60 win.
Mockevicius recorded his 7th double-double in 9 games this season. Jaylon Brown had another nice effort, posting nine points. Brzoja recorded 8 points and7 rebounds while David Howard checked in with 7 points. In 14 minutes of action, Willie Wiley was strong, he had 5 rebounds and 4 points. Overall, UE’s bench outscored its counterpart, 35-13.
“Give credit to our guys who came off the bench – they really gave us a spark,” Balentine said.
Five days from now, UE is back at the Ford Center to face Norfolk State. Game time on Thursday is 7 p.m.