Evansville defeated Indiana State 68-42 on Saturday night in the semifinals of Arch Madness, the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament. With the win, the Purple Aces advanced to the championship game and will face the University of Northern Iowa on Sunday afternoon.
Evansville is now 12-6 in the MVC and 24-8 overall while Indiana State is 8-10 in the conference and 15-16 overall.
The game was a blowout from the very start, and the Sycamores never led. The Purple Aces went into the locker rooms with a 15 point lead.
Devonte Brown led the Sycamores with 15 points, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates. Evansville guard D.J. Balentine led the team with 14 points, but the Purple Aces starters didn’t play much in the second half after building a big lead.
Evansville head coach Marty Simmons said he was proud of his team’s win.
“Great opportunity — they’ve done a great job of staying together, and we just feel really fortunate,” said Simmons. “I’m really, really happy for our team.”
Simmons said he thought his team did a better job taking care of the basketball than previous games.
“I think the biggest key for us, we were able to get some stops, get out in transition,” he said. “But I thought we had some good rhythm … I thought we drove the basketball. We were fortunate too because they missed shots that they’re going to make.”
Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said he was not expecting the game to be such a large blowout.
“I was certain that game was going to go a little different, especially after yesterday and how hard we played and how well we played and how well these guys were tied in together,” said Lansing. “We weren’t together as much as we need to be.”
Purple Aces guard Blake Simmons, who finished with 13 points, said the chance to play in the championship game is a dream come true.
“It’s still hard to wrap our minds around that tomorrow we’re playing for a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “This is something I know me and D.J. and the rest of the guys have dreamed about since we were kids. Having the opportunity tomorrow, it’s a lifelong dream we’ve had.”