EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Trailing by six points with 3:08 remaining, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team finished the game on a 16-4 run to hang on for a 72-66 win over Campbell University on Wednesday at the Ford Center.
Antoine Smith Jr. and Marvin Coleman II each hit pivotal 3-pointers during the final stretch as UE clinched its third victory of the season.
“I thought at the beginning that we had the right energy defensively and we were able to finish the game in a similar way to how we started it,” Purple Aces head coach David Ragland said after the win. “We played with the right energy from start to finish. Our guys really felt the energy from the fans over the last three minutes and that made a huge difference. We appreciate our fans and community for their support.”
Coleman, Yacine Toumi, Gabe Spinelli and Chris Moncrief all set career scoring marks in the contest. Both Coleman and Toumi scored 18 points and hit 7 out of 11 attempts. Coleman tied his career mark with four 3-pointers. Spinelli had a nice game, hitting four out of his six attempts to score nine points while Moncrief recorded four tallies.
Finishing the night with 15 points was Antoine Smith Jr. He was 4-for-6 from the field and 3-of-5 from long range while adding five boards. Smith hit the 3-pointer that put Evansville in the lead for good with one minute remaining. Capping off the night’s records was Kenny Strawbridge Jr., who dished out a career-high seven assists.
Marvin Coleman II got the Aces on the board with a jumper as the team started 2-for-3 from the field to take a 4-3 lead. The next six points belonged to the Camels as they went up 9-4 six minutes into the contest. Yacine Toumi took over at that point, scoring seven Evansville points in a row.
Toumi found an open Antoine Smith Jr. for a triple to complete a 10-0 run that gave Evansville a 14-9 advantage with 7:32 remaining in the half. Campbell missed six attempts in a row but regrouped to convert four out of their next five field goals to go back in front at 21-19. The Camels went back up by four when a bucket by Anthony Dell’Orso gave them a 28-24 advantage with just over two minutes left.
Smith knocked down his second triple of the night on the ensuing possession to help the Aces complete the half on a 7-0 run. Toumi hit another basket before Kenny Strawbridge Jr. hit two free throws in the final second to send UE to the break with a 31-28 lead.
Campbell knocked down four of its first five field goal tries of the second half to tie the score at 36-36. Coleman kept UE on pace, hitting his second triple. The shots continued to find the bottom of the net for the Camels as they started the period 6-for-9 on their way to a 43-37 advantage.
After starting 1-for-7 in the second half, Gabe Spinelli drained two shots as UE hit three in a row to retake a 44-43 edge. Strawbridge made a perfect pass to Spinelli, who dunked it and was fouled. Spinelli went on to finish the 3-point play. As the half moved past the midway point, the Camels wrestled away a 52-47 lead but it was the freshmen who brought UE back.
Chris Moncrief and Spinelli had back-to-back dunks while Coleman hit triple #3 of the game to tie it at 54-54. As the game entered the final four minutes, the Camels once again took a 6-point lead with a pair of triples making it a 62-56 game. After Toumi connected on his 7th make of the night, Strawbridge found Coleman for his fourth triple to make it a 1-point game.
With 1:38 on the clock, Toumi hit a pair of free throws that put Evansville on top – 63-62. A layup put Campbell back on top before UE took the lead for good when Coleman found Antoine Smith Jr. for a triple. From there, the Aces held strong to finish with the 72-66 victory.
“It feels good,” Antoine Smith Jr. exclaimed. “We had a few games come down to the final few minutes so it feels great to finish.”
UE shot 49.1% for the game with Campbell finishing at 44.2%. Both teams finished with 30 rebounds. Evansville returns to the road on Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT game at Ball State.
Credit: UE Athletics