CARBONDALE, Ill. – Marvin Coleman II had the top offensive game of his career, scoring 25 points to lead the University of Evansville men’s basketball team on Tuesday night in a 78-70 defeat to Southern Illinois inside the Banterra Center.
“It would have been very easy to give in with the way we started the game but we fought,” Purple Aces head coach David Ragland exclaimed. “We gave everything we had and loved our response. We looked more connected in times of adversity and just tried to find a way. That is what we have been working on with our group.”
Coleman knocked down 9 of his 13 attempts and was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range. He added a team-best nine caroms. Kenny Strawbridge Jr. completed the game with 12 points while Gage Bobe added 11. Southern Illinois was led by Marcus Domask’s 32-point effort. He hit 13 out of 18 tries.
The first 10 points of the evening belonged to the Salukis before a free throw from Antoine Smith Jr. got the Aces on the board. SIU added six more to its lead to go up 16-1. UE missed its first nine field goal tries before Smith connected on a triple. Gabe Spinelli hit consecutive shots to cut the deficit to 10 (18-8) as the half approached its midway point.
Southern Illinois took over the next segment, pushing their advantage to its largest of the half at 37-17 with 5:44 showing on the clock. Evansville never relented and its persistence paid off. Yacine Toumi picked up a pair of field goals and Gage Bobe drained a three to complete a 9-0 run that saw UE cut the gap to 37-26 with just over two minutes remaining.
Despite the Salukis knocking down three late free throws to hold a 42-30 halftime advantage, the Aces completed the first period on a 13-5 run.
Marvin Coleman II opened the second-half scoring with a triple to get UE back within single digits. Both defenses held the opposing offense at bay through the ensuing stretch as UE was able to stay within striking distance. With under 13 minutes left, Kenny Strawbridge Jr. drilled a triple to make it a 53-43 game but the Salukis countered to push the lead back to 15 when an offensive rebound led to a triple with under 10 minutes remaining.
Once again, it was Coleman pacing the offense, connecting on his third triple in as many tries. Evansville’s deficit continued to hover between 10 and 15 minutes over the remainder of the contest with SIU maintaining a 76-61 edge with 94 ticks left. Battling right down to the final buzzer, UE rallied once again. Led by a Strawbridge trey, the Aces scored seven in a row to get within eight points with just over 30 seconds remaining.
Coleman recorded a putback to make it a 77-70 game but SIU was able to prevail by the 78-70 final. Evansville finished with a 47.4%-46.9% shooting advantage while the Salukis had a 38-29 edge on the boards. The Aces are back at the Ford Center on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game against Drake.