Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Freshman Sparks Aces to First Win ; UE 66, YALE 56

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Freshman Sparks Aces to First Win ; UE 66, YALE 56

Article excerpt

Life without Colt Ryan wasn't all that bad Friday night for the University of Evansville's men's basketball team. Playing for the first time in four seasons without their star player, the Aces knocked off Yale 66-56 behind a career-high 16 points from freshman D. J. Balentine in a Coaches vs. Cancer Classic game at the Ford Center.

"With him out, definitely someone needs to step up," Balentine said.

The freshman out of Kokomo High School sparked runs in both halves that had the Aces (1-2) up double digits. Evansville gave up its first lead and trailed 54-53 before Balentine put the Aces ahead for good on a jumper with 6:46 to play.

From there, Evansville outscored Yale (0-3) 13-2 to end the game.

The win followed defeats to Notre Dame in the Aces' season opener and a loss to Buffalo on Thursday in which Ryan left injured in the first half. Ryan, who dressed in street clothes for Friday's game, has a hip pointer and his status is day to day, said coach Marty Simmons, whose team hosts Western Illinois at 7:35 p.m. today to finish Coaches vs. Cancer play.

The senior Ryan played in 96 straight Evansville games before Friday dating back to his freshman season. In 51 of those, he led the Aces in scoring.

"We're just coaching the guys who are available to play," Simmons said. "We don't talk about that. We talk more about how we played last night and how we want to change that - really just be more aggressive."

Four Aces scored in double figures against Yale, as Jordan Jahr had 12 and both Lewis Jones and Ryan Sawvell 10. The Aces also shot a season-high 46.9 percent from the field while converting on 17 of 24 free throw attempts.

During both halves, a win was in jeopardy until Balentine started hitting.

The guard scored 10 straight Evansville points in the first, and Sawvell capped that spurt with a pair of free throws that moved the Aces ahead 23-13.

"(Balentine) just was really aggressive," Simmons said. …

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