Posted: Nov 30, 2012 10:29 AM
SPRINGFIELD, MO -- Melvin Tillman scored a game-high 19 points for Central Methodist University in a 59-56 men's basketball victory over No. 21-ranked Evangel University in the Ashcroft Center on Thursday in the Heart of America Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
In a game that featured six ties and seven lead changes, a Michael Banks, Jr. fastbreak layup with less than a minute to play in the game gave the Eagles (7-4, 1-0 HAAC) the lead for good.
An early back-and-forth affair ensued, as Tillman tied the contest at nine-all off a trey at the 13:38 mark in the first half. Banks, Jr. gave the Green and Black its first upper hand of the game a little more than a minute later with a shot from distance, making the score 12-11.
With the game tied at 22, the Crusaders (7-3, 0-1 HAAC) closed the first period on an 11-6 spurt. J.J. Williams hit a three with 1:52 on the clock to put the home team up 31-25, but a Tillman trey with nine seconds remaining cut the deficit to five points, 33-28, at halftime. The story of the first half was Tillman, who scored 14 of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Crusaders opened up a 47-40 lead midway through the second half before the Eagles answered. A full court zone defense down the stretch stymied Evangel's shooters who were only 1-of-10 from behind the arc in the second half. A 6-0 run for Central Methodist late in the game erased a six-point deficit, and Alex Barner's two-pointer produced the sixth tie at 53-all.
Zack Kleine hit a trey for Evangel to put his team back up by three before back-to-back buckets by Elliott Black and Banks, Jr. sealed the game for the Eagles. After Barner converted the double-bonus with 12 seconds left, a Jayme Donnelly game-tying three-point attempt at the buzzer hit off the back iron.
Banks, Jr. finished with 13 points. Black had 10 points and six rebounds.
Brodie Wingert and Stephen Cotten tallied 12 points apiece to lead Evangel,
Central Methodist held the 17th best three-point field goal percentage team to 6-of-21 shooting (28.6-percent) from distance.
The win marks number 497 in the 28-year career of Coach Jeff Sherman.
The Eagles host Peru State College on Saturday. Tipoff from Puckett Field House is set for 4 p.m. CT.