OLATHE, Kan. -- Having made it into the Heart of America Conference Tournament by the skin of its teeth, the Missouri Valley College women's basketball team was hoping to make some noise.
The Lady Vikings battled back from a 14-point halftime lead Thursday at Olathe, Kan., but couldn't make up all the ground during a 73-64 loss to ninth-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene, the league's regular season champion.
The Lady Pioneers scored the game's first nine points, although over the next five minutes Valley cut the deficit to 11-8 over the next four minutes. A 15-1 stretch put MidAmerica up by 17 points with six minutes remaining in the half, with a three-point play by freshman Rayna Smith tightening the contest slightly at the end of the period.
The margin increased to 19 points early in the second half before the Lady Vikings made a 12-3 charge behind three buckets by sophomore Samantha Kixmiller. A bucket and free throw by senior Cara Clark got Valley to within six points with under nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Vikings would twice more pull to within six points, but couldn't get closer. The Lady Pioneers used an 8-1 surge for a 68-55 cushion with 2:40 to go and made six of eight charity shots over the next two minutes to keep Valley at a two-possession distance.
Junior Rachel Boan had 19 points and sophomore Daria Sprew added 15 points and eight rebounds for MidAmerica (28-2), which takes an 18-game win streak into Saturday's semifinal clash with visiting Baker.
The Lady Vikings (8-23), who got 17 points from Kixmiller, have to replace two senior starters for next season.