EVANSVILLE, IN - Walt Lemon, Jr. became the 78th player in Missouri Valley Conference history to score 1,500 career points, but Evansville sophomore guard D.J. Balentine scored a game-high 24 points, leading the Purple Aces (10-11, 3-5 MVC) to a 66-60 victory against the Braves (8-13, 3-5 MVC) Sunday afternoon at Ford Center.
Lemon logged 38 minutes, despite early foul trouble, and paced the Braves with 14 pionts, six assists and two steals. He now has 1,507 career points, taking over sole possession of 13th place on Bradley's all-time scoring list and The Valley's active career scoring leader climbed to 76th on the league's all-time list.
Lemon was one of four Braves to score in double-figures, followed by Tyshon Pickett (13), Auston Barnes (11) and Omari Grier (10).
Center Egidiju Mockevicius, who finished with 15 points as Evansville's only other double-digit scorer, scored a pair of interior baskets to give the Purple Aces a 4-2 lead and the home team never trailed.
Although the Braves finished the game with 15 more field goal attempts than their hosts, Evansville outscored Bradley 27-10 at the free throw line. Balentine converted all 12 of his free throw attempts to finish with two more points at the charity stripe than the entire Bradley team.
Trailing by as many as 13 points, Bradley eventually sliced the deficit to just one, 51-50 with 6:23 remaining, after consecutive corner 3-pointers from Barnes. The Braves had a chance to shoot for the lead after getting a defensive stop, but Ka'Darryl Bell missed badly on a drive into the lane and Evansville scored on its next two possessions for a 55-50 lead.
The Braves cut their deficit to one possession three more times, but could not get enough stops down the stretch to complete the comeback.
The Braves will return home Wednesday for the season's first installment of the Interstate 74 Rivalry series versus Illinois State, a 7 p.m. tip at Carver Arena.