Valley comes up empty in Ozarks
SPRINGFIELD -- A losing streak in the Ashcroft Center at Springfield stretching back to 1995 could have ended Saturday had the Missouri Valley College men played even an average first half of basketball.
Instead, the Vikings put themselves into a such a hole that even a 52-point second half wasn't enough to catch up to Evangel during an 80-74 Heart of America Conference loss. Valley shot just 30 percent from the field, including one of nine from three-point range, and let the Crusaders make 54.8-percent of their attempts to fall behind by 24 points at the break.
The Vikings forced 18 second-half turnovers for a 34-21 shot advantage, making 18 of them, to stage a furious comeback which got them as close as four points with 33 seconds remaining. However, Evangel stemmed the rally with its free-throw shooting down the stretch, freshman Jerod Floyd alone making eight of nine during the final 4:19.
Junior Luke Cooper had 20 points and Floyd wound up with 19 for the Crusaders (16-10, 12-6 HAAC), who won their ninth game in a row.
Junior Chris Ealim topped the Vikings (16-13, 9-9) with 14 points, with juniors Ramone Powell and Mike Atkinson scoring 12 points each.
Earlier, the Lady Vikings proved no match for seventh-ranked Evangel, which clinched a fourth straight HAAC title with its 31st win in a row against league foes, 77-38.
Junior all-American NaTasha Neal scored 21 points and juniors Megan Bernardy and Shaletha Page added 13 points apiece for the Lady Crusaders (24-4, 18-0), who controlled the boards by a whopping 53-31 margin and forced 24 turnovers.
The only player for Valley (9-20, 4-14) to tally more than five points was junior Tiffani Schreiber, leading the team for the sixth time in the last seven outings with a game-high 24 points.
Valley at C of O
POINT LOOKOUT -- The Missouri Valley men suffered their sixth loss in seven games Monday, dropping a non-conference clash at College of the Ozarks, 75-68.
The Vikings shot 56.3 percent from the field during the first half and led by eight points, even without making a three-pointer or attempting a free throw. The disparity at the line was even greater after intermission, the Bobcats enjoying a 28-13 advantage in shots and 18-6 edge in conversions. That, combined with Valley's 30.6-percent field-goal shooting, allowed C of O to charge back with a 47-32 second half.
Freshman Brandon Argo's 26 points and eight rebounds led Ozarks (14-15). Junior Marcus Johnson was the only Viking (16-14) in double figures with 19 points.
The 23rd-ranked Lady Bobcats jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and cruised to a 72-52 decision over the Valley women. The Lady Vikings found themselves in a hole after making just eight of 38 attempts from the floor, including one of 10 from three-point range, during the first half.
Junior Katie Howard scored 26 points and sophomore Cara Painter had 22, both nabbing 11 rebounds as Ozarks (20-6) dominated the glass, 59-29.
Schreiber again led Valley (9-21) with 10 points and seven boards.
The Viking squads return home for the final two games of the regular season, starting with Thursday's contest against HAAC foe Lindenwood.