Vikings get home split with Peru State
The Heart of America Conference men's basketball race is as tight as a tick midway through the schedule, with seven teams within two games of each other for second place -- all at least three games behind third-ranked William Penn.
Missouri Valley College stayed in the thick of it Wednesday, avoiding its first three-game losing streak of the season with a 79-75 home decision over Peru State. In a contest which saw neither team lead by more than six points, the Vikings did what was needed down the stretch.
A pair of buckets by junior D'Angelo Young-Pryor got Valley off to an 8-2 start and, after the Bobcats trimmed the margin to a point, junior Casey Cody-Jackson knocked down a three-pointer.
Peru State surged in front for the first time with 13:11 left in the first half, when senior Devon Colley took a steal to the rack and was fouled, converting a conventional three-point play. A Colley put-back had the Bobcats up by four points, but short shots by senior Darrell Watson, junior Dusaan Allen and senior Mason Schlotzhauer put the Vikings back in front.
The lead changed hands twice and was tied for the seventh time before freshman Camren Hare buried a bomb at the buzzer to send Valley into the break with a three-point advantage.
Threes from Allen and Watson pushed the Vikings' edge to eight points eight minutes into the second half, but Peru State fought back. Junior Kendrick Robison made three buckets as the 'Cats rallied with a 14-5 run which allowed them to take a one-point lead on senior Nick Brannon's lay-up with 7:28 remaining in the game.
Hare connected from outside 24 seconds later, and Valley didn't trail again. Watson scored inside, Hare sank two free throws and Young-Pryor got a deuce off the offensive glass for a seven-point Viking cushion with 4:30 to go.
Senior Deonte McReynolds drilled a trey and Colley made two charity shots to make it a one-possession margin. Robinson scored following a turnover to trim Valley's lead to two points with 1:08 left, but Peru State missed a pair of three-point attempts while Watson and senior Alonzo Williams hit free throws to seal the win.
Robinson wound up with a game-high 31 points for the Bobcats (9-9, 8-5 HAAC).
Watson and Hare each had 19 points to pace Valley (10-8, 7-6), which out-shot the visitors 50.8 to 44.1 percent from the field -- including 11 of 22 three-point tries.
The Lady Vikings didn't fare as well, seeing Peru State pull away by a 41-30 margin during the middle two quarters of a 72-53 victory.
Valley was down 9-3 before freshman Ana Arroyo and senior Isabel Garcia scored inside and senior Sierra Adams made two freebies to catch up. The contest was tied early in the second quarter before the Lady Bobcats went on a 15-2 run, getting two three-pointers from sophomore Alyssa Marsh-Contreras and another by junior Maddy McPhillips.
Junior Hannah Stephens stopped the bleeding by hitting shots both inside and outside and Valley went into halftime down by 10 points. Two lay-ups by junior Shanelle Tolley closed the gap to six points early in the third quarter, but the Lady 'Cats responded by scoring the next nine points.
The Lady Vikings' deficit rose as high as 20 points midway through the final frame.
Peru State (7-10, 5-8) had five players score in double figures, led by McPhillips' 15 points and senior Giovanni Silva's 13 points and 13 rebounds, as they held a 42.6- to 33.9-percent shooting advantage from the floor.
Tolley had 13 points and Adams added 10 for the Lady Vikings (3-13, 2-11), who suffered their fifth loss in a row.
The Valley teams are scheduled to travel to Clarke on Saturday.
Contact Chris Allen at email@example.com