Posted: Jan 11, 2013 10:03 AM
FAYETTE, MO -- Four Eagle women's basketball players scored in double figures as No. 17 Central Methodist withstood an upset attempt from Missouri Valley 64-57 on Thursday inside Puckett Fieldhouse.
The win was the fifth straight Heart of America Athletic Conference victory and eighth overall for Central Methodist (16-1, 5-1 HAAC), which now has two eight-game win streaks on the season.
The Vikings (4-13, 1-4 HAAC), which have now lost seven straight, came out strong and did not trail for the first 11-plus minutes of the contest until Sammie Gathercole drilled a trey at the 8:36 mark to give the Eagles their first lead 17-16. The Green and Black built three five-point leads down the stretch of the first half, with two of those following buckets in the paint by Taylor Cornelison. Central Methodist's Towanda Sutton buried a seven-foot jumper with 29 seconds on the clock, and the Eagles took a 28-23 advantage into the break.
Britney Joseph increased the Eagles' advantage to seven points, 30-23, 15 seconds into the second half before Missouri Valley began to chip away at the deficit. Cara Clark's two-pointer gave the Vikings a 35-34 upper hand with 16:10 to go in the game.
The Eagles looked to seize control following a Raylyn Nuss three-pointer that broke a 40-all game with 11:17 on the clock. The Green and Black put together a 9-1 run, capped by two free throws by Sutton, to stretch Central Methodist's lead to 49-41.
Missouri Valley got within one point at 54-53 thanks to a Gabi Morales bucket, but the visitors could get no closer in the final 1:52. Gathercole nailed a key shot from distance with 53 seconds remaining to push the margin back to a two-possession game at 59-53. The Eagles also made six straight free throws in the final 30 seconds, ending the Vikings' upset bid.
Nuss and Sutton finished with 13 points apiece. Cornelison added 12. Gathercole had 11.
Joseph and Kyra Williams each tallied 10 rebounds for Central Methodist, which outrebounded Missouri Valley 23-9 on the offensive glass and 49-42 overall. Joseph also came up with a game-high three steals.
Central Methodist outscored Missouri Valley in the paint, 22-16, and on second chance opportunities, 17-9.
The Eagles travel to No. 21 Benedictine (Kan.) on Saturday for the HAAC Game of the Week. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT
Leading the way for the Lady Vikings was Clark who finished with 16 points. Also in double-digits was Senior Forward Gabi Morales (Bakersfield, Calif.) with 12 points and seven rebounds. Morales, the leader in blocked shots in the HAAC, added five more blocked shots in the game. Smith also added 12 points and seven rebounds. MVC limited CMU to just 30-percent shooting from the floor, while forcing 14 turnovers.
Up next for Missouri Valley is a home contest with MidAmerica Nazarene University on Saturday. The game begins at 2:00 p.m. at the Burns Athletic Complex.