Quotable from UE’s win over Missouri State

UE gutted out a 62-59 overtime victory Wednesday over Missouri State at the Ford Center. The Aces needed overtime to get their first Missouri Valley Conference win against a Bears team that entered with one victory this season over a Division I opponent.

UE coach Marty Simmons’ opening statement: “It was tough. Just what I anticipated. You and I talked about it the other day. We anticipated a grind-it-out kind of game. Paul (Lusk) is a great coach. He had his team prepared very well. They threw some tough lineups out there at us and were really good at going after matchups. Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of our team individually and collectively. They had to dig deep and find ways to make plays to be able to win.”

Missouri State coach Paul Lusk talked about the last 39 seconds of overtime. UE had the ball and a one-point lead, but the Bears let the clock run down rather than foul. Aces senior Ned Cox hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead. “They’re such a good free throw shooting team,” Luski said. “They’re 16 for 20 on the night, and they’re going to have the ball in the best free throw shooter’s hands — Colt Ryan, Ned Cox, those kind of guys. Then Ned Cox makes the last play. We thought, ‘Is the team going to take it all the way down?’ You don’t know, but we thought we’d have time miss or make just to push it. I thought we got a pretty good look. I think (Anthony Downing) could have gone one dribble deeper. Give credit to Ned Cox on that shot. We just wanted to rely on our defense, see what would happen and get a good look at the end.”

Before overtime, UE had a two-point lead with seven seconds left and an inbounds pass. The Aces gave it away and allowed a Missouri State bucket that tied the score. Was Simmons disappointed? “Sure I was,” he said. “All we’ve got to do is get the ball in, and they’re going to foul. We’ve got to get more space, and we didn’t execute it well. We’ve got to be able to pull the trigger when guys are open. We’re fortunate, and we’ve got to learn from it.”

Lusk on UE, which Missouri State played three times last season. Two meetings went to overtime and none were settled by double digits. UE won them all. “That’s a tough team. Give them credit. They’ve got a ton of experience — guys who have played in this league for a long time. Obviously, we’re not satisfied with losing in overtime. We wanted to win the game. I think we really battled. We just didn’t finish it off.”

UE freshman Egidijus Mockevicius went for a season-high 18 rebounds and added eight rebounds. He also blocked five shots. “He helps out a lot because just in case I was to get beat (on defense), he can alter the shot and grab rebounds,” said senior Lewis Jones. “He’s just a force on the court.”

Off his triple-double at Creighton, senior Troy Taylor tallied a career-high 19 rebounds against the Bears. “I was actually joking with Lance (Wilkerson, the Aces’ play-by-play radio announcer) before the game telling him I was going to get him 15 (rebounds),” Taylor said. “I guess I went four over. I didn’t even know, to be honest. I honestly thought I only had like eight or nine, and after the game fans were clapping my hand like, ‘Oh, you had 19 rebounds.’ Lance told me the school record is 21, but that guy was 6-10.”

The 6-foot point guard Taylor on his rebounding strategy: “Colt (Ryan) was just joking in the locker room and said he made a big emphasis on crashing the glass. But he said for some reason it gravitates to me every single time. I just try to position myself, play percentages and things such as that, because I can tell when it leaves their hands whether it’s short or long or right or left. I just try to get into that right position where the ball’s going.”

Simmons on the importance of Wednesday’s victory for a team that wants to win a MVC championship: “We’re not really talking about that right now. With where we’re at in our season, we want to get better tomorrow. We’re very thrilled we got this win tonight. It’s a big win. We could have lost, and to get off 0-2 would have been tough. The season’s not over, and  then you’d do whatever you could to win the next one. I think with our team – where we’re at – we’ve got to take it one day at a time and just try to get a little bit better. We’ve got to get some confidence and hopefully play really well on Saturday.”

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