EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — D.J. Balentine scored 17 points and Evansville came all the way back from 16 down to beat No. 23 Northern Iowa 52-49 on Thursday night.
Egidju Mockevicius added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Purple Aces (11-2, 1-0 Missouri Valley Conference). Jaylon Brown made four free throws in the last 7 seconds to seal it.
Seth Tuttle led UNI with 18 points, but fouled out in the final minute. Nate Buss added nine for the Panthers (11-2, 0-1).
For one half, Northern Iowa’s swarming defense completely frustrated Evansville, holding the Purple Aces to 20 points in the first 20 minutes as the Panthers built a lead as large as 16.
But the second half was a different story.
UNI led 28-12 late in the first half following Tuttle’s one-handed shot as he drifted across the lane, but Evansville pulled to 30-20 at halftime. The Purple Aces shot 7 of 23 from the field in the first period, including 0 of 7 on 3-pointers.
Evansville never did find its shooting touch, ending the game at 32.7 percent (16 for 49), but used offensive rebounding to get numerous second chances. The Purple Aces finished with 14 offensive rebounds to three for UNI.
Evansville pulled to 36-35 with 10:57 to play on Duane Gibson’s bank shot, and it was back and forth from there. Tuttle’s 3-pointer with 6:12 left briefly pushed the Panthers’ lead back to 41-35, but Evansville hit 13 of 14 free throws in the second half to make up the difference.
Northern Iowa: UNI’s bench came in as the eighth-leading scoring group in the country. Despite the loss, the Panthers’ reserves outscored the Purple Aces’ bench 22-8.
Evansville: Balentine had his streak of eight straight games with at least 20 points snapped.
Northern Iowa plays at home against Loyola on Sunday.
Evansville plays at Indiana State on Sunday.
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