Lady Vikings end four-game skid
The Missouri Valley College women's basketball team took the lead midway through the first half and never relinquished it Saturday.
The Lady Vikings' 58-52 Heart of America Conference decision over visiting Peru State snapped a four-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Valley men dropped their fifth game in a row, falling to the Bobcats, 73-69.
The Lady Vikings trailed Peru State during a three-minute span early in the contest, but never by more than three points. Junior Eboné Brown tied it with a free throw with 12:26 left in the first period and Valley went in front on a steal and lay-up by Brown a few seconds later.
A three-pointer by freshman Rayna Smith gave the Lady Vikings a six-point lead, but they were unable to pull away. Freshman Sydney Wilkinson connected from outside to cut the Lady Bobcats' deficit to 28-24 with 1:33 to go in the half, and that's how the teams went into the break.
Valley opened the second half with a bomb from senior Sami Jackson, followed by Smith's steal and transition bucket. Jackson hit a short jumper for an 11-point cushion with 15:15 remaining.
The margin fluctuated between six and 11 points until junior Adaugo Osuala struck from the perimeter to make it a three-point game with 3:07 left. Osuala trimmed the difference to a point with another ninety seconds later, but the last four possessions for Peru State ended with a pair of missed shots and steals by freshman Gabby Lovelace and Jackson -- while Valley converted five of eight attempts from the charity stripe.
Senior Courtney Ward led the Lady 'Cats (11-15, 6-8 HAAC) with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Brown scored 15 points off the bench for the Lady Vikings (7-19, 4-10), with senior Gabi Morales contributing seven points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Peru State climbed out of a 10-point hole during the final nine minutes of the nightcap, which had 10 lead changes and was tied seven times.
The Vikings went into the break down by a point and still trailed five minutes into the second half before sophomore Kevin Stander buried a three-pointer to begin a 14-3 run capped by freshman Jordan Epps' fast break off of a steal by senior James Pope with 9:36 remaining.
Junior Jarvis Green-Smoot made a lay-up and trey as the Bobcats responded with a 17-5 spree. Valley still led by a point before junior Kody Kirkpatrick came up with a steal and fed junior Nate Bohey for a conventional three-point play which put the Bobcats ahead, 70-68, with 1:31 to go.
Senior Michael Connor had a chance to tie the game from the line, but made only one of two tries. Freshman Justin Jones stuck back a missed shot for Peru State, Epps came up empty on a potential game-tying three-point shot and Kirkpatrick sealed the win from the stripe with five seconds remaining.
The Bobcats (11-14, 4-10) got a game-high 25 points from senior Derrick Williams, senior Richard Oppitz recording a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Epps finished with 20 points, six assists and three steals for the Vikings (9-17, 4-10).
Valley will be at home Thursday to take on league rival Central Methodist.