A season that saw the University of Evansville men’s basketball team make one of the top turnarounds in Missouri Valley Conference history came to an end on Friday as Indiana State finished on a 7-0 run to defeat the Purple Aces by a 53-43 final in their Arch Madness meeting inside the Enterprise Center.
Evansville (9-16) saw a 7-game turnaround in its MVC record this season while finishing in the top five in the league for the first time since 2016. Friday’s game was a one-possession game for most of the day before Indiana State (15-9) held the Aces scoreless over the final 5:54 of the contest before pulling away for the win.
“I thought both teams defended very hard; everyone put forth their best effort,” UE head coach Todd Lickliter said following the game. “This league will challenge you every game – the coaches are great, the players are great – and our guys responded. I am proud of our guys, we made the move to the top half of the league and we need to progress from there. It was a challenging year for everyone, but being able to coach this group made it enjoyable.”
“I am so proud of this group. Sometimes things do not go your way and it is easy to give in and give up, but our guys just maintained their poise. They are building an identity with how they want to play.”
The duo of Noah Frederking and Evan Kuhlman led UE with 10 points apiece. Frederking was a perfect 2-for-2 from outside while Kuhlman added five boards. Shamar Givance recorded 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
While the Purple Aces made it a 2-point game at the break, it was Indiana State who had the upper hand in the early moments of the game. The Sycamores took what would be their largest lead of the first half at 19-12 at the 12:45 mark. Evansville stormed back over the next two minutes, using a layup by Shamar Givance to get back within a possession at 21-18.
After ISU pushed its lead back to five, Evansville answered once again, putting together a 9-2 run to take its first lead at 29-27 with 1:43 showing on the clock. A Noah Frederking triple and a field goal from Newton tied it up at 25-25 before baskets from Gage Bobe and Givance put the Aces in front. Indiana State recorded the final four points of the half to take a 31-29 lead at the break. Frederking led all scorers with 10 points in the half.
Five minutes into the second half, UE tied it up at 34-34 on a triple by Evan Kuhlman. Indiana State retook the lead on the next trip down the floor, but the Aces held strong when a 3-point play by Iyen Enaruna cut the Sycamore lead to 40-39 at the 11:09 mark. UE trailed by five inside of the 6-minute mark when a drive by Givance saw Evansville get back within three at 46-43.
That is when the defenses took over. ISU added a free throw at the 4:43 mark, but neither team would find the scoreboard again until 83 ticks were left on the clock. Unfortunately, it was Indiana State who scored as a field goal extended the lead to six before four free throws in the final minute sealed the 53-43 victory. Evansville was held scoreless for the final 5:54 of the contest, missing its final eight shots. A turning point came as the game was nearing the final two minutes. The Sycamores assumed possession with 2:33 left and grabbed two offensive caroms before hitting a basket at the 1:23 mark that extended the lead to six.
Indiana State was led by Tyreke Key, who recorded 19 points and 9 rebounds.