SAVANNAH, Ga. — Blaise Beauchamp reset his season mark with 18 points in Friday’s opening game of the Hostilo Hoops Community Classic against South Alabama at Enmarket Arena. The Purple Aces lost to the Jaguars in a 78-67 final.
“That was another great team we faced tonight. We had some good stretches in the first half but South Alabama just didn’t lack during that stretch in the second half,” said UE head coach David Ragland. “There are some positive things we can take from tonight and we will be ready for Robert Morris tomorrow.”
Beauchamp was 6 of 15 from the field in the competition and one of four double-digit goalscorers for UE. Kenny Strawbridge Jr. counted 14, while Antoine Smith Jr. and Yacine Toumi recorded 11 and 10, respectively. Marvin Coleman II led the aces with seven rebounds as each team had 33. Isaiah Moore led the Jaguars with 21 points.
Yacine Toumi brought down the aces in opening possession before South Alabama scored the next seven points. Evansville countered with a 7-0 run of their own and took a 9-2 lead. Preston Phillips started with a triple and added a second field goal during the stretch.
In a 9-9 tie, Antoine Smith Jr. started his first of four shots in what would end as an 11-point half to start a 7-0 run. Blaise Beauchamp hit his second field goal of the game before finding Smith with a 3-pointer to make it a 16-9 game at 12:15. Over the next six minutes, the Jaguars worked their way back into contention, using two free throws to go to one at 24-23.
Smith took matters into his own hands, knocking down two more 3-pointers to put the Aces back ahead – 32-27 – with four minutes remaining at half-time. Beauchamp sunk his first outside shot less than a minute later to extend the lead to 35-29. In the closing moments of the half, USA made another run and hit a shot in the final seconds to make it a 37-37 contest at halftime.
Kenny Strawbridge Jr gave UE the lead to open the second half and was credited with assisting a Phillips dunk that gave Evansville a 44-43 advantage at the 15:44 mark. Over the next four minutes, South Alabama surpassed the Aces by a 12-1 lead to take the biggest lead of the night, 55-45. Four straight Beauchamps brought UE back into the fray but the Jaguars would extend their lead to 67-52 with 9:24 on the clock.
Never giving up, Evansville used an 8-2 stretch to go nine in the final seven minutes. UE continued to keep things within reach as Beauchamp added his sixth field goal scored of the game to make it a 72-63 game at the 2:44 mark, but South Alabama had the answer every time and would take the win with a 78: fetch. 67 final.
The Aces take on Robert Morris in the second game of the weekend at 4pm CT on Saturday.