Lady Vikings give No. 7 MNU a tussle

Monday, February 10, 2014

OLATHE, Kan. -- The Missouri Valley College women's basketball team took seventh-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene well into the second half before being shaken off during a 76-70 Heart of America Conference road loss Saturday.

The Lady Vikings led going into the second half and stayed within one possession through the first five minutes before the Lady Pioneers scored 14 straight points to assume control.

MidAmerica got off to a 10-4 start, but senior Gabi Morales scored twice and sophomore Julia Vasquez connected from outside to put the visitors in front for the first time with 14:39 to go in the first half. The Lady Pioneers led by seven points with three minutes left, but Valley closed the period with an 11-2 run behind a pair of bombs from junior Paris Johnson.

The teams would be deadlocked three times early in the second half before the Lady Pioneers pulled away, sophomore Megan Balsam making two long-range jumpers to help push the margin to 16 points with under 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Morales made a lay-up and trey and four free throws by junior DeVaughna Jenkins closed the margin to five points with 1:45 to go, but the Lady Vikings missed three attempts from outside the arc during the final 30 seconds.

Junior Martyna Kudziela came off the bench to pace MidAmerica (18-3, 10-2 HAAC) with 14 points.

Jenkins had a game-high 15 points while Johnson and junior TaLaya Earls each added 12 for Valley (14-10, 6-6), which had won five of its previous seven games.

The MidAmerica men led for all but 16 seconds during their 95-86 victory over the Vikings, but never held a comfortable cushion.

Valley trailed by 11 points late in the first half until back-to-back buckets by senior Jim Thomas whittled the margin to seven points at the break. Junior Brad Hamilton hit a three-pointer, junior Andre Scott made a deuce and Thomas found the mark again to put the Vikings in front by a point with 15:49 left in the game.

Junior Nick Syrie answered by finishing a fast break and the Pioneers never trailed again, a 9-0 spurt capped by senior Conner Langrehr's bomb stretching their lead to 12 points midway through the period.

Thomas and Hamilton popped from outside and Thomas' two free throws had Valley to within three points at the 4:12 mark, but it didn't make another field goal and was out-scored 9-3 the rest of the way.

Six players scored in double figures for MidAmerica (15-9, 7-5), with senior David Clark netting 20 points and senior Luke Thomas contributing 17 points and 18 rebounds.

Thomas finished with 23 points as all five starters had at least 10 for the Vikings (12-11, 5-7).

Valley will return home Thursday to take on Avila.

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