MVC Basketball Teams Sweep Graceland
MARSHALL, MO -- The Missouri Valley College men's and women's basketball teams faced Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa in a Heart of America Athletic Conference double-header Saturday afternoon. The Lady Vikings beat the Lady Yellow Jackets to make it two wins in a row defeating Graceland 60-57, and the men's team rattled off their third straight win with a 75-74 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
The Lady Vikings started the game off facing an early four point deficit. The Lady Vikings put together an early 8-0 run to take a four point lead with just under 17-minutes remaining in the first half when Senior Guard Sami Jackson hit two of her five points off a field goal. The Lady Yellow Jackets battled back to regain the lead by going on a 15-4 run that lasted over five minutes mid-way through the first half taking a 19-12 lead. MVC eventually tied the game at 19-19 after Ebone Brown got two of her seven points, but Graceland was able to finish the half strong taking a 33-27 lead into halftime. The Lady Vikings stepped up their defense in the first half forcing seven turnovers and blocking three shots.
The Lady Vikings started the second half by scoring first on a Senior Center Cara Clark (Omaha, Neb.) field goal to cut the lead to four. The two teams continued to go back and forth throughout most of the second half, but Graceland was able to build as large as a seven point lead with 16-minutes to go in the game. From there MVC took control of the game en route to the victory. With less than 12-minutes to go MVC tied the game at 41- 41 on a Clark field goal. The Lady Vikings took their first lead of the second half after a three-point field goal by Senior Guard Lindsi Jackson with just over seven minutes left to play. Graceland briefly held a one point lead at 51-50, but the Lady Vikings responded going on a 9-1 run to give them a seven point advantage with just seconds remaining. The Lady Vikings held off a late Graceland rally for a 60-57 victory.
Leading the way for MVC was Clark, who registered her first double-double of the season, with 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Freshman Guard Rayna Smith had 13 points and four steals of her own. Also, the HAAC's leading shot blocker Junior Center Gabi Morales added five blocks to her season total of 52 blocked shots. The Lady Vikings forced Graceland into 18 turnovers, out rebounded the Lady Yellow Jackets 51-44, and kept Graceland to less than 30-percent shooting in the game.
The win moves the Lady Vikings to 6-15 overall and 3-6 in HAAC play. Graceland drops to 2-15 overall and 0-9 in HAAC play.
The Missouri Valley College men's basketball team found themselves behind Graceland through much of the first half. The Yellow Jackets built up as large as a seven point lead around the 12-minute mark, before the Vikings started their comeback. The Vikings whittled away at the Graceland lead through the middle portions of the half, before finally pulling ahead at 23-21 when Senior James Pope scored two of his nine points at the four minute mark. The lead came in the middle of a 19-3 run by the Vikings that eventually stretched their lead to nine points late in the first half, before going into halftime with a 35-28 lead. The Vikings shot over 41-percent in the first half, including nearly 55-percent on three-point attempts, while forcing six Graceland turnovers.
To start the second half both teams traded baskets, but MVC was able to stretch their lead to double-digits for the first time a little over six minutes into the half at 52-42 off a made field goal by Freshman Jordan Epps. Graceland responded by going on a 18-4 run over the next five minutes and eventually took a 60-58 lead with just under nine minutes to play. Graceland built up its lead to six points with just over six minutes left in the game, but the Vikings chipped away at the lead. Eventually MVC took the lead back for good with just under three minutes left to play at 72-71 off a Sophomore Kevin Stander three-point field goal. The Vikings had a four point lead with just seconds remaining, but Graceland hit a three with just one second left on the clock, and MVC was able to come away with the 75-74 win, the third conference win in a row for the Vikings.
Leading the way for MVC was the leading scorer in the HAAC, Epps, who had 23 points and five assists. Three other players were in double-figures, including Junior Jim Thomas who had 14 points and six rebounds, while Stander finished with 12 points and four assists, and Junior Law Brown chipped in with 11 points. The Vikings shot right at 50-percent in the game and produced 19 assists. The Viking defense forced 12 Yellow Jacket turnovers and blocked six shots.
The second-straight win improves MVC to 9-12 overall and 4-5 in the HAAC. Graceland falls to 5-15 on the season and 2-7 in the conference.
The MVC men's and women's basketball teams will play on the road in Canton, Missouri on Thursday evening in a double-header with Culver-Stockton College. Women's game tips off at 5:30 p.m., the men's game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. The Lady Vikings defeated Culver in their first matchup 57-54, while Culver took the men's game in a shoot-out 101-93 back on Nov. 29.
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