The best Missouri Valley College hoops fans had been able to do this season was leave the Burns Athletic Center with mixed feelings, at least until Thursday -- when both the men's and women's teams won Heart of America Conference tilts at home on the same night for the first time.
It was a close call for both clubs, though, which had to battle back from halftime deficits. The Lady Vikings defeated Lindenwood, 55-53, after which the Valley men bested the Lions, 81-77.
The Lady Vikings erased most of an eight-point deficit on three straight possessions in the final five minutes -- seniors Bonnie Johnson, Holly Siverling and Nicole Allison getting inside for buckets. With the score tied at 49-all, senior Theresa Gittens scored six points in a row -- four from the free-throw stripe -- and Valley survived a three-pointer by sophomore Gina Ferrer, who missed a potential game-tying second try at the buzzer.
Ferrer's 11 points were high for Lindenwood (9-10, 5-6 HAAC).
Johnson had 17 points and Allison 16 off the bench for the Lady Vikings (8-10, 5-6), who ended a four-game slump -- including three league losses.
Valley had an even more uphill climb in the nightcap, trailing the Lions by 11 points midway through the second half. However, the Vikings began a 16-2 run when junior Craig Jones came up with a steal for a breakaway bucket.
Senior Boman Mullings made the most impact during that stretch with a stick-back, two free throws and three-pointer which gave Valley its first lead in nearly 20 minutes.
Junior Brandon Toliver got loose inside and Mullings scored again off the offensive boards for a 71-66 lead. While Lindenwood kept cutting the margin to three, the Vikings kept answering -- twice by Mullings, then by sophomore Rouven Haenig. Jones two charity shots in the closing seconds clinched the victory.
Junior Andre' Dickson scored 19 points as four Lions (11-10, 5-6) reached double figures. However, Lindenwood was beaten badly inside, giving up 54 points in the paint -- 25 on second chances -- and being out-rebounded, 48-31.
Valley (5-17, 5-6) had three players record double-doubles: Mullings with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Toliver also scoring 24 points and gathering 13 boards, and Haenig contributing 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Vikings will play Graceland on Saturday, but at different sites -- the men at home and the Lady Vikings at Lamoni, Iowa.