Evansville, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - D.J. Balentine scored 17 points to lead Evansville to a 52-49 win over No. 23 Northern Iowa on Thursday.
Egidijus Mockevicius supplied 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Purple Aces (11-2, 1-0 MVC), who won their fourth straight game in their Missouri Valley Conference opener.
Seth Tuttle had 18 points to lead the Panthers (11-2, 0-1) and Wes Washpun added 11 off the bench in the loss.
The Panthers built some separation in the first half courtesy of a 13-0 run that helped them to a 24-10 lead with 5:25 left.
Evansville closed to within 30-20 at halftime.
The Purple Aces ran off nine straight points early in the second half to pull within 34-33 prior to the second media timeout.
Evansville took the lead later in the frame, but Tuttle's layup moved the Panthers back in front by one with 3:46 left. They did not score for another 3:38, however, as Washpun cut their deficit to 48-47 with under 10 seconds left.
Jaylon Brown converted a pair of free throws before Washpun made another one inside to keep it a one-point game, but Brown made two more at the line and Jeremy Morgan's 3-pointer was off the mark on the final possession.
Northern Iowa shot 44 percent from the floor and limited the Purple Aces to 32 percent shooting. However, Evansville made 19 free throws on 25 attempts compared to 6-of-7 from the line for the visitors ... Evansville shot 1-for-11 from beyond the arc.