UE won its first game of the season Friday night over Yale, a 66-56 victory in which the Aces pulled away to double-digit leads in both halves. Freshman D.J. Balentine led UE in scoring with a career-high 16 points, and sophomore Jordan Jahr added 12 — both contributing to the Aces’ 32 bench points.
Coach Marty Simmons on Friday’s game: “They played really hard. I thought they played with a lot of energy — a lot of passion. I thought they made a lot of extra-effort plays. That’s really everybody that played – second, third and fourth efforts. I thought they played as a team. If one guy was beat, they really showed help. That was hard.”
Simmons didn’t see things come together all 40 minutes: “We had lulls there toward the end of the first half when we got stationary. We tried to play one on one instead of getting the basketball reversed two and three and four times. I just thought tonight our guys were able to adjust, and we just executed better.”
Simmons on Balentine’s career night: “He just was really aggressive. He gave us a huge lift. When he came in, he made big shots and it just kind of energized everybody – everybody on the floor – I think it energized people in the stands. He’s very capable of doing that.”
Balentine on his performance: “I came in really focused. I had a lot of people calling me and texting me like, you’re not really playing your game and stuff. I’m not being myself. So I had to come in really focused. I thought I played decent. All the coaches and players told me to step up and be aggressive. I wasn’t playing right. I think I played decent overall.”
Balentine on scoring at the right time: “It was all mindset and just being aggressive. I came in the first couple games timid – Notre Dame and Buffalo – just playing scared and timid. This game, I really took it upon myself to play my game, be aggressive and score. That’s what I came here to do.”
Feel like anything’s missing without Ryan on the court? Jahr said: “The game definitely is a little bit harder. He makes things a little easier out on the floor just because he’s so good at opening things up. But I think that just as a whole, as a team, right now it makes everyone play that much harder because we know we have to put the extra effort in without him there.”