MVC Basketball Teams Split Conference Opener
MARSHALL, MO -- The Missouri Valley College men's and women's basketball teams welcomed Culver-Stockton College to the Burns Athletic Complex Thursday evening for both teams' Heart of America Athletic Conference opener. The women's team came from behind for a win 57-54, while the men's team was beaten in a shootout 101-93.
The Lady Vikings were able to jump out to an early 8-0 lead against the Lady Wildcats. MVC would lead throughout most of the first half, hitting an eight-point advantage multiple times, before Culver-Stockton pulled back into the game. The Lady Wildcats eventually took a two-points lead with just under a minute remaining, but Sophmore Center Samantha Kixmiller hit a bucket just before halftime to tie the score at 28-28 as the teams went into the locker rooms.
The Lady Vikings started the second half strong scoring the half's first four points. Culver-Stockton then took control of things going on a 12-2 run over a three minute stretch to take 40-34 lead with just over 12-minutes remaining in the game. From there Culver held on to a lead until just under two minutes left in the game when Senior Guard Sami Jackson hit a three-point shot to tie the game at 53-53. Jackson gave MVC a 55-53 lead just 30 seconds later, and she would hit three of four free throws down the stretch, giving her seven points in the game, to give MVC the 57-54 win.
Leading the way for MVC was Senior Forward Gabi Morales who had 15 points and seven rebounds. Also in double-figures for the Lady Vikings was Senior Center Cara Clark with 12 points and six rebounds. The Lady Vikings dominated on the glass with a 47-33 rebounding advantage.
The win improves the Lady Vikings to 3-5 on the season and 1-0 in HAAC play. Culver-Stockton drops to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
The MVC men's team played in a fast-paced, back and forth contest with Culver-Stockton, eventually falling to the Wildcats by eight points. Culver built up an early lead against MVC, leading by as many as 12 point early in the first half. The Vikings were able to chip away at the Culver lead, eventually getting to within four points with about nine minutes left in the first half. However, that was as close as the Vikings would get as Culver used a 13-5 run to end the first half up 54-37.
The Vikings tried to turn things around in the second half, shooting over 67-percent from the field and hitting 78-percent of their three-point attempts. Culver though had enough answers, knocking down 50-percent of their shots in the second half, and never let MVC back to a single-digit deficit until late in the ball game. The hot shooting allowed MVC to put up 56 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough in the 101-93 loss.
Leading the way for MVC was Freshman Jordan Epps who had a career-high and game-high 30 points to go along with six assists and three steals. Also in double-figures was Junior Jim Thomas (St. Louis, Mo.) with 25 points, while Freshman Christian Williams chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds, both players coming off the bench to contribute. The Vikings were able to force Culver to turn the ball over 14 times and also shot a better percentage from the field than the Wildcats, 56 percent to 52 percent.
The loss drops MVC to 3-8 overall and 0-1 in HAAC play. Culver improves to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in conference action.
The MVC men's and women's teams will be on the road Saturday afternoon to Baldwin City, Kansas to take on Baker University. Women's game tips off at 2 p.m., men's game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.