Vikings get home sweep over Avila
The Missouri Valley College basketball teams snapped short losing streaks Saturday with a pair of home victories over Heart of America Conference foe Avila, the first doubleheader sweep since taking a pair from Graceland on Dec. 4.
The Lady Vikings recorded a 63-60 decision and the Valley mean beat the Eagles, 83-74.
In what was either an act of inspiration or desperation, Vikings head coach Chad Lance replaced four of the five starters to begin the nightcap -- but yanked them four minutes into the contest with a 5-4 lead. Neither team led by more than six points in the first half, Valley enjoying that advantage when senior Chris Ealim hit a shot with 7:56 left.
The teams went into the break tied for the 10th time, following six lead changes, but the Vikings began pulling away midway through the second half.
Senior Gary Morrow connected from short range, senior Mike Matranga dunked and converted a free throw and Ealim buried a three-pointer as Valley opened up a 60-51 gap with 8:05 remaining in the game.
After trading a pair of buckets, senior John Boswell hit from outside to extend the margin to 11 points with 5:52 to go. Avila got as close as eight points on five occasions, but each time the Vikings had an answer -- including hitting 10 of 12 free throws over the final 2:20.
Senior Jason Lewis had a game-high 27 points for the Eagles (6-12, 4-6 HAAC).
Valley (11-8, 3-4) was topped by Ealim's 23 points and Boswell's 21, with Matranga grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking three shots to end a three-game skid.
The Lady Vikings were in command most of the game, but nearly blew it down the stretch.
Freshman Theresa Gittens' three-pointer with 10:20 left in the first half capped a 9-0 Valley run for a 10-point cushion. Although the Lady Vikings would lead by as many as 13 points, Avila trimmed the margin to six by halftime.
Again, Valley surged ahead, senior Tiffani Schreiber scoring seven points to build an 11-point lead. The gap gradually increased, up to 19 points when sophomore Shellena Stone converted a layup with 10:07 remaining.
The Lady Eagles would trim the deficit to nine points with a 15-5 surge, but senior Heather Davis' trey with 4:08 briefly stemmed the tide.
Not for long, though. Junior Angie Kessler struck from outside to begin a 10-2 spurt which brought Avila to within one bucket following sophomore Caitlin Stephenson's conventional three-point play with 22 seconds to go.
Valley was helping the Lady Eagles by missing free throws, five of six during the last two minutes -- including front end of one-and-ones by Schreiber and Gittens. Fortunately, sophomore Ashley Simpson's jumper with 12 seconds left was off the mark and -- after Davis ended MVC's slump from the line -- senior Emily Eagan was unable to knock down a game-tying three with three seconds to go.
Kessler had 15 points for Avila (8-13, 2-8). Schreiber provided 12 points and sophomore Kendra Caldwell tallied 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vikings (6-10, 2-5), who join the men in hosting Baker today.