Tag: Evansville Purple Aces

2015 NIT Championship

Evansville, Stanford win postseason tournament titles


Thursday night two championships were determined, with the title games of the CIT and NIT being played. With Evansville winning the CIT and Stanford the Postseason NIT, the non-NCAA tournament portion of the 2014-15 schedule has been completed.

Marty Simmons’ Purple Aces became the second Missouri Valley Conference team to win a postseason event in as many days, with Loyola (IL) winning the CBI title on Wednesday, as they beat Northern Arizona 71-65 in Evansville. Egidijus Mockevicius led the way offensively for Evansville with 27 points and he also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Guard D.J. Balentine, the team’s leading scorer on the season, chipped in with 16 points. Evansville shot just 1-for-10 from three but made up for that by scoring 20 points from the foul line, seven more than NAU. First team All-Big Sky selection Kris Yanku, who will be a junior next season, led Jack Murphy’s team with 18 points.

The Lumberjacks picked up the first postseason wins in school history in the CIT, and with Yanku leading the way they should once again be a factor in the Big Sky next season. As for Evansville they had just one senior this season, guard Jaylon Moore, and the returning depth and talent should mean good things for the Purple Aces in 2015-16.

As for the Postseason NIT, Stanford’s senior class of Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic and Chasson Randle won the title as freshmen and Thursday night managed to do so as seniors. Randle scored 25 points to lead the Cardinal to a 68-66 overtime win over Miami at Madison Square Garden, earning MVP honors as a result.

Miami’s quest for the program’s first-ever postseason title fell short, as Sheldon McClellan was forced to double-clutch a corner three in the final seconds by the solid defending of Stanford’s Anthony Brown. McClellan led the Hurricanes with 17 points but did so on 5-for-16 shooting, with Davon Reed adding 16 points and Ja’Quan Newton ten. Stefan Nastic scored 11 points for Stanford before fouling out late in the second half.

Stanford has some key pieces to account for next season, as Brown, Randle and Nastic will all be out of eligibility. However they have some young talent, including guard Marcus Allen and forwards Rosco Allen, Michael Humphrey and Reid Travis, to work with this offseason.

As for Miami, Jim Larrañaga won’t lack for depth or talent in 2015-16. Miami didn’t have a senior on this year’s roster, and that includes two contributors in Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri who missed Thursday’s game due to injury. With that being the case, Miami should be able to earn the NCAA tournament bid they missed out on this season in what will be an incredibly tough ACC.

Potential NCAA tournament bid thieves bubble teams should be rooting against

Ryan Boatright (Getty Images)
Ryan Boatright (Getty Images)

This season is a bit weird in that there are only two “mid-major” conferences that will be sending at-large teams to the tournament. That limits some of the potential bid thieves from the smaller leagues, but here is a list of teams that are completely out of the bubble picture with the ability to make a surprise run to their conference tournament title and win an automatic bid:

UConn: I mean, this one is obvious, right? The Huskies, coming off of a national title run, have been one of the country’s most disappointing teams this season. But Ryan Boatright is one of the nation’s most talented guards and capable of carrying UConn the way Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier have done before him. Throw in the fact that Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton seem to finally be hitting their stride, and that Amida Brimah is still swatting away everything at the rim, and Kevin Ollie’s club has the talent to beat anyone in the American. Ask SMU. They lost to UConn on Sunday.

Illinois State: The Redbirds have been beaten up for much of the season, but they’re now healthy and enter Arch Madness having won four straight games. They’re 11-3 against the Valley teams not named Wichita State or Northern Iowa, and three of their four losses to the top two teams in the league were by single digits.

Wyoming: The Cowboys were playing like the best team in the Mountain West midway through league play when Larry Nance Jr., a conference Player of the Year candidate, got mono and missed a few weeks. The Pokes have lost four of their last six since Nance went out, but when he was healthy, they swept Colorado State and beat Boise State in the only matchup between the two teams. At full strength, they can take home the title. But will they — meaning Nance — ever be at full strength this month?

Richmond: The Spiders have been inconsistent this season, but they do have some terrific wins on their resume. To name a few: they swept arch rival VCU and beat George Washington in D.C. You won’t find a team with a more difficult back court to guard than Richmond, who boast a pair of sub-6-foot speed demons in Kendall Anthony and Shawn’Dre Jones. On the nights those two are playing well and Richmond’s threes are dropping, they can beat anyone. And with the Atlantic 10 being wide-open this year, don’t be surprised to see the Spiders make a run.

Kansas State: The Wildcats are in a similar boat as UConn. They certainly have the talent to be an NCAA tournament team, but outside factors — and the inability of Marcus Foster to consistently stay out of trouble — means that they are just 15-15 on the season heading into their finale against Texas. But this group has seven top 50 wins on the season, which includes upsets of both Kansas and Iowa State last week. If they show up ready to play, Kansas State absolutely can earn the automatic bid from the Big 12. And if not, losing in the title game might give them enough quality wins to actually earn an at-large bid. Be nervous, bubble teams.


  • St. Mary’s: Gonzaga is clearly the best team in the WCC, and with BYU streaking, the Cougars look like a tournament team as of today. But don’t sleep on the Gaels, who had a dominant low-post presence in Brad Waldow and surround him with a slew of shooters and high-major transfers.
  • Evansville: Evansville has one of the Valley’s best scorer on the roster in D.J. Balentine and they’re the only team in the conference that actually owns a win over Northern Iowa or Wichita State; they beat the Panthers at home in the conference opener.
  • UNLV: The Rebels have been inconsistent all season long and after still waiting to see if Rashad Vaughn will be back for the MWC tournament. So the odds are long. But consider this: the Rebels are more talented than anyone else in the conference, they beat Arizona in Vegas earlier this season and the MWC tournament will be played in … Vegas.

Late Night Snacks: Evansville defeats No. 23 Northern Iowa

Eastern Washington v Indiana
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GAME OF THE DAY: Eastern Washington 84, Weber State 78

Two of the teams expected to contend in the Big Sky met Thursday afternoon, with EWU guard Tyler Harvey going off to lead the Eagles to the six-point home win. Harvey scored 39 points on the day, shooting 12-for-19 from the field and 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. Venky Jois added 18 points and eight rebounds for EWU, which moves to 10-4 on the season. Freshman guard Ryan Richardson led four Weber State players in double figures with 22 points.


1. Evansville 52, No. 23 Northern Iowa 49: The Purple Aces struggled mightily in the first half, with leading scorer D.J. Balentine scoring just four points and the team shooting 7-for-23 from the field. Marty Simmons’ team turned things around in the second half, erasing a ten-point halftime deficit with better execution on both ends of the floor, and Balentine scored 14 points to lead the Purple Aces to the win in the MVC opener for both.

Also key for Evansville was forward Egidijus Mockevicius, who added 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Purple Aces scored 18 points off of 12 UNI turnovers. Seth Tuttle scored 18 points and Wes Washpun added 11 and eight rebounds off the bench for UNI, which is now 11-2 on the season.

2. Saint Mary’s 68, Pepperdine 59: Saint Mary’s moved to 3-0 in WCC play with a nine-point win at Pepperdine, as Brad Waldow scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds on a night that saw five Gaels score in double figures. Saint Mary’s won despite committing 17 turnovers and allowing the Waves to shoot 50 percent from the field, and they’re outscoring Pepperdine 27-9 from beyond the arc was the biggest reason why. Guards Aaron Bright and Kerry Carter hit three three-pointers apiece for Saint Mary’s.

3. Belmont 78, Southeast Missouri State 77: Craig Bradshaw scored 25 points and teammate Reese Chamberlain (ten points, nine rebounds and nine assists) nearly posted a triple-double as the Bruins held off the Redhawks in the OVC opener for both in Nashville. Jarekious Bradley led four SEMO players in double figures with 20 points, but Dickey Nutt’s team fell short due in part to Belmont hitting 14 three-pointers to their seven.


1. Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington: 39 points (12-for-21 FG) in Eastern Washington’s 84-78 win over Weber State.

2. Craig Bradshaw, Belmont: 25 points (10-for-15 FG) in the Bruins’ 78-77 win over Southeast Missouri State.

3. Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville: Mockevicius posted his fifth straight double-double in the Purple Aces’ 52-49 win over No. 23 Northern Iowa, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

4. Evan Payne, Loyola Marymount: 27 points (8-for-14 FG, 10-for-10 FT) in the Lions’ 77-63 loss to Pacific.


1. Tevin Svihovec, Northern Colorado: The Bears’ leading scorer (12.4 ppg) accounted for just three points in a 66-48 loss at Montana, missing all five of his field goal attempts.

2. Matt Bohannon and Deon Mitchell, Northern Iowa: Two of UNI’s three starting guards combined to shoot 0-for-7 from the field, failing to score a point in the Panthers’ 52-49 loss at Evansville.

3. Darion Rackley, Jacksonville State: Scored five points on 2-for-12 shooting in the Gamecocks’ 73-57 loss at SIU-Edwardsville.


  • Chase Fischer and Tyler Haws scored 14 points apiece and Kyle Collinsworth added eight points, 15, rebounds, six assists and three steals in BYU’s 81-46 pasting of Santa Clara.
  • Christopher Anderson’s steal in the finals seconds preserved a 57-56 win for San Diego at San Francisco. Mark Tollefsen scored 14 to lead the way for USF, but the Dons shot just 8-for-15 from the foul line.
  • Idaho won its Big Sky debut to kick off its second stint in the conference, beating Idaho State 77-54.
  • Dylan Garrity scored 26 points to lead five players in double figures as Sacramento State beat Northern Arizona, 78-73.