Lady Vikings win fourth straight

Friday, January 24, 2014

Considering the course of the previous two games, Thursday's 72-66 home victory over Heart of America Conference rival Evangel must have seem like a cakewalk to the Missouri Valley College women's basketball team.

The Lady Vikings took the lead with seven minutes left in the first half and stayed in front the rest of the way for their fourth win in a row. In wins at Culver-Stockton and No. 23 Benedictine, they had to come from behind in the closing minutes.

It began as a dogfight, a three-pointer by senior Bailey Irvine starting a 10-0 run by the Lady Crusaders for a 14-6 lead. Valley responded with a 10-2 surge to tie the contest on junior Paris Johnson's perimeter jumper.

The Lady Vikings took a four-point lead into the second half and were unable to shake Evangel, which trailed by three points when freshman Reggine Brown connected from outside with 6:41 left. Junior TaLaya Earls and Johnson combined for seven points during a 13-4 span that stretched Valley's cushion to 12 points with 2:36 to go.

The game wasn't over, though, as the Lady Crusaders got a pair of buckets from freshman Allison Swanson and a goal and two free throws from senior Tiaunshe Brown to pull to within three points with 14 seconds remaining.

Johnson made one charity shot, Evangel missed from long range and senior Gabi Morales sank two from the line to put the win on ice for the Lady Vikings.

Swanson finished with a game-high 22 points for the Lady Crusaders (5-12, 2-5 HAAC), who swept last year's season series with Valley.

The Lady Vikings (13-7, 5-3) got 14 points each from Johnson and Morales, with Earls contributing 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.

In the men's game, fifth-ranked Evangel disposed of MVC, 76-59, to remain perfect in league play.

Junior Korry Tillery scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the first half to give the Crusaders a 45-33 lead. He also opened the second period with a three-pointer, and junior Brodie Wingert followed with another one to push the margin to 18 points.

The Vikings pulled to within 12 points on senior Jim Thomas' bomb with 15:51 left, but they never got closer, Evangel extending the margin to as many as 20 points.

Tillery wound up with 20 points and 14 boards for the Crusaders (16-3, 7-0).

Junior James Lane's 14 points topped Valley (10-9, 3-5), which has lost three in a row - all against ranked foes.

The Vikings head to Baker on Saturday.

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