By Mary Harvill, exclusive to West Coast Convo
Playing for 3rd place in the Gulf Coast Showcase, Evansville and USF played an exciting final game to wrap up the three day tournament in Estero, Florida.
The Purple Aces proved to be a physical, formidable opponent led by DJ Ballentine with 23 points and Jalon Brown with 15 points.
Mark Tollefson hit 52% of his shots and finished the game with 23 points, a career high for the lanky center who refused to give up hope for the win. Early foul trouble hampered Kruize Pinkins’ scoring contributions in this game doubling his production from Tuesday night’s game against FGCU with 10 points and 3 rebounds. He fouled out though for the second game in a row. Have the opponents have gotten into his head a bit too much?
Matt Glover had a double double with 12 rebounds and 20 points. Tim Derksen gave a solid effort with 12 points.
Is everyone at Evansville named Jaylon? Jaylon Moore was quiet tonight with no points though he was the leading scorer in Tuesday night’s game against UW-Green Bay with 13 points. Looks like he left it all on the floor Tuesday. DJ Ballentine provided a head turning effort leading the team with 23 points. Egidiju Mockevicius finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Mislav Brzoja provided 11 points and 7 rebounds.
The Purple Aces played a smart, uncompromising game leading for most of the first half. USF grabbed a different gear with 4:32 remaining in the first half to close Evansville’s 7 point lead to a 5 point lead at the end the first half with a score of 39-34. The Don’s rallied again at the 1:56 mark of the second half but were unable to catch Evansville.
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This tournament was a productive experience for the Dons who drop to 3-2. Tournament play allowed them to match-up with several solid teams outside of the West Coast with skills to test the Dons current level of play and where they need to be as the season goes forward, particularly in West Coast Conference play.
USF will return home to the Bay area to play the Griz from Montana, a team that might think they are in Florida with the warmer temperatures in San Francisco. The game will tip-off at 3 pm on Sunday, December 1, 2014.