Pippa Passes, Ky. – The Indiana University East Red Wolves demonstrated why they are one of the nation’s top squads as they pulled away in the game’s final five minutes to defeat the Alice Lloyd Eagles 80-74. The River States Conference match-up was held in Pippa Passes on January 5th.
The nation’s former number one squad roared out of the gates on fire as they raced to a 21-7 advantage in the first seven minutes of play. They appeared ready to earn a devastating knockout victory.
Fortunately for the home crowd, the Eagles began to feed the ball to leading scorer, guard Blake Smith.
The junior sparked Alice Lloyd on the offensive end as IUE had no one who could stop him. His offensive onslaught changed the pace of the game and allowed ALC to fight back.
When the horn sounded for intermission, Smith had poured in 18 first-half points, and the deficit was reduced to just two (29-27).
In the second half, the high powered Red Wolves would depend on guard Bishop Smith, who helped his club start the period on a 17-8 burst and take a 46-35 lead by the 14:27 mark.
Fortunately, the Eagles fought back. Blake Smith went to work once more on offense and was joined for some critical buckets by sophomore guard Noah Young and senior forward Simon Christon. On defense, the entire squad stepped up their effort as they began to slowly dig into the lead.
Eventually, when Alice Lloyd senior guard Ryan House drained the second of his back-to-back trifectas, the clock entered the final five minutes with East clinging to a 64-63 edge. The crowd was giddy with excitement.
Unfortunately, in the championship minutes, the visitors stepped up. IUE would score on their next possession, then get a steal and a block on the two possession following that. On offense, they would turn those plays into six huge points.
Although the Eagles continued to fight, the spurt was just too much to overcome against such a powerful club.
For ALC (7-9; 2-4 RSC), Blake Smith played excellent ball as he jammed in a game-high 32 points on 13-21 field goals (3-5 triples). He also added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
He was joined in double figures by Young with 13 and Christon with 11. Additionally, Young dished off a team-high 5 assists while Christon led in rebounds with 8.
For Indiana East (12-6; 4-1 RSC), Bishop Smith scored a team-high 21 points
The statistics reveal the tightness of the contest. Alice Lloyd shot 44.8% (30-67; 6-15 threes) from the floor, compared to IUE which hit 45.2% (28-62; 7-23 threes).
East barely won the battle of the glass (37-35), and in assists (11-9), while the Eagles held the edge in in steals (9-6) and blocks (4-2).
The difference came at the charity stripe where the typically accurate Eagles shot just 53.3% (8-15) compared to the Red Wolves 70.8% (17-24).
The Eagles return to action next week in two important conference tilts. On Tuesday, January 8th, they travel to Midway University for a 7:30 pm match-up. They then return home Thursday, January 10th to face Asbury University at 7:30 pm.