Although it missed 11 of 19 charity shots after halftime to see a 10-point lead evaporate, the Missouri Valley College women's basketball team made its last six attempts in overtime Thursday to claim a 63-59 Heart of America Conference home win over Evangel.
For a Valley squad which ranks ninth in the 10-team league in shooting percentage from the stripe (60.3), there was hope it wouldn't come down to that. Early on, when the Lady Vikings opened with a 9-2 run, it didn't appear that there would be an issue.
However, the Lady Crusaders blanked Valley for six minutes, forcing four turnovers and three missed shots, and reeled off nine straight points. The Lady Vikings' drought ended when senior Hannah Young returned to the floor and made three straight shots to regain the lead.
Valley gradually extended the margin to 10 points with under three minutes left in the half. Although Evangel whittled its deficit to two, aided by three-pointers from junior Sierra McSpadden and freshman Amanda Landolt, the Lady Vikings scored the last six points of the half.
Valley's advantage fluctuated between 10 and four points throughout most of the second half -- but after missing four of five from the stripe and coughing up the rock four times in five minutes, the gap fell to two when junior Jaimee Shields made a lay-up with 2:33 left in regulation.
Young came up empty at the line with 44 seconds remaining, giving the Lady Crusaders a chance to tie the contest -- which they did on a jumper by senior Kara Blankenship.
Neither team was able to get momentum during the extra period, but the second lead change -- on Young's drive to the hold with 45 seconds left -- was the last one. Young came up with a steal and junior Sami Jackson hit two free throws.
Young stole the ball again, this time junior Lindsi Jackson heading to the stripe and converting a pair at the 11-second mark. Although freshman Emily Akins cut the Lady Vikings' lead to two with a bomb, two Young freebies sealed the win.
Blankenship led Evangel (8-14, 6-7 HAAC) with 18 points.
Valley (10-12, 6-6) was topped by Young with 20 points, four steals and three assists -- also getting 10 points from junior Cara Clark and eight rebounds by sophomore Eboné Brown to pull to within one game of fourth place in the league standings and possible home game in the post-season tournament.
The men's game was a rout from the start, Evangel's perimeter shooting too much for the Vikings to handle during an 83-58 victory.
The Crusaders made four of six shots from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes to open up an 18-point lead. A long jumper by sophomore Jim Thomas and a pair of plays for five points by junior Michael Connor in the final minute of the half trimmed the margin to 10 points.
Valley twice got the spread into single figures early in the second half, but juniors Jayme Donnelly and Jordan Fielding struck from outside on back-to-back possessions for EU -- which pulled away during the final 10 minutes.
Donnelly finished with 15 points and senior Cale Ramsey added 10 for the Crusaders (18-7, 10-3), who were 12 of 23 from three-point range.
Connor had 19 points, freshman Kevin Stander scored 10 and junior David Smith collected 11 rebounds -- including five on the offensive glass for the 5-foot-11 guards -- for the Vikings (9-15, 4-8), who were out-shot 60.0 to 32.2 percent from the field while losing for the sixth time in eight games.
Valley will be on the road Saturday for a HAAC tilt at Peru State.