The Missouri Valley College women's basketball team erased a nine-point deficit during the final four minutes Thursday to beat a Central Methodist club which had won six of its previous eight games.
The Lady Vikings' 62-61 Heart of America Conference home win was followed by a slightly easier win for the men's squad over the Eagles, 55-41 -- the second date in a row in which Valley has won both ends of a doubleheader.
In the opener, the Lady Vikings trailed by four points at halftime and as many as a dozen during the second half. A conventional three-point play by junior Sami Jackson had Valley's deficit down to four points with 6:15 left to play, but the visitors got a bucket from sophomore Ashley Nyakundi and three-pointer by sophomore Nakia Robinson to push the margin to 54-45.
Goals by sophomore Eboné Brown and freshman Chelsey Merrigan began the Lady Vikings' comeback, which suffered a slight bump when senior Sami Dunger sank two free throws for Central Methodist.
The teams traded charity shots before senior Hannah Young scored to make it a one-possession game and followed that up with a bomb to tie the score with 1:25 remaining.
Valley went in front on Jackson's basket at the 37-second mark, but the Lady Eagles tied the contest 13 seconds later on a shot by junior Towanda Sutton.
The Lady Vikings worked the clock down until Brown was fouled with two seconds left. She missed the first freebie, but made the second and CMU was unable to get off a potential game-winning shot.
Sutton had 15 points to lead the Lady Eagles (7-9, 4-2 HAAC), who out-shot Valley from the field 40.7 to 35.3 percent and enjoyed a 45-38 rebounding edge.
The Lady Vikings (7-8, 3-2) got 12 points and five assists from Jackson, with Brown adding 10 points, for their fifth win in the last seven games.
The Valley men built a 12-point halftime lead and didn't allow the visitors to get the gap closer than two possessions, although they made a short run during the second half.
Junior Robert Mason and senior Evan Lavery knocked down threes early in the period to get Central Methodist to within four points -- but the Vikings answered with a transition bucket by junior Michael Connor off of junior James Pope's steal, sophomore Jim Thomas' perimeter jumper and two Pope free throws for a 34-23 cushion with 13 minutes remaining.
Senior Mike Regan's three-point play and a shot by junior Derek Kitch sliced the Eagles' deficit to five points, but Connor got a put-back and freebie and Thomas fed senior Bryan Corley in the paint for a 41-31 spread with nine minutes to go.
Lavery connected from beyond the arc with 6:25 left, but that was Methodist's final field goal of the game. Valley only made one, by Connor with 2:09 to go, but converted nine of 12 from the stripe to pull away.
Mason and Lavery topped the Eagles (7-9, 1-5) with 10 points each.
Connor had a game-high 19 for the Vikings (7-9, 3-2) -- who boasted a 34-10 scoring advantage inside, committed just eight turnovers and allowed CMU to shoot only 29.2 percent from the floor.
The Valley teams will head to MidAmerica Nazarene on Saturday to take on the league leaders in both the men's and women's standings.