MVC Basketball Teams Split With Graceland
MARSHALL, MO -- It was Senior Day for the Missouri Valley College men's and women's basketball teams as they played their last home games of the regular season against Graceland University. The Lady Vikings put together a dominating performance to come away with a 75-44 victory. The men's team was outlasted by Graceland 77-72.
To open up the women's game, Graceland grabbed the early advantage, as they quickly built up a five point lead in the game's first four minutes. After MVC quickly took a one point lead off a Junior Forward Gabi Morales two-point field goal, Graceland took the lead back, and extended it to a 14-10 advantage midway through the first half. The Lady Vikings responded, and put together an impressive 18-0 run over the next nine minutes to take a 28-14 lead with just under three minutes remaining on a Senior Guard Lindsi Jackson three-point field goal. The two teams traded baskets through the rest of the first half, and the Lady Vikings went into halftime with a 30-18 lead. The Lady Vikings limited Graceland to just 19-percent shooting and outrebounded the Lady Yellowjackets by a 32-17 margin.
The Lady Vikings picked up to begin the second half the same way they ended the first half, as they stretched their 12-point halftime advantage to an 18-point lead at the 16-minute mark as Freshman Guard Rayna Smith hit three of her nine points. From there, it was all MVC as the Lady Vikings never led by fewer than 13-points, and built up their first 20-point lead at the eight minute mark. The Lady Vikings were able to cruise in the game's final minutes, scoring 14 of the final 16 points in the contest to pull away 75-44. The 75 points is the most the Lady Vikings have scored since their first game of the season on Nov. 2 against Mt. Mercy College, and the 31-point margin of victory is the most since the Lady Vikings defeated Culver-Stockton College 80-48 on Feb. 4, 2010.
Leading the way for MVC was Senior Center Cara Clark with 14 points. Jackson finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and Morales recorded her third double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Guard Sami Jackson finished with four points, five rebounds, and four assists, and Senior Forward Olivia Andam had four points and two rebounds.
The win improves the Lady Vikings to 8-21 overall and 5-12 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play. MVC now sits in eighth place in the HAAC standings, with one game remaining in conference play. The top eight teams make the postseason HAAC Tournament. Graceland falls to 2-23 overall and 0-17 in HAAC play.
In the men's game, MVC took control of the game early, scoring the first five points to take the early lead, and eventually lead by a 14-8 score around the 14-minute mark after a Senior Michael Connor field goal. The Vikings eventually built their lead to ten points after a Freshman Jordan Epps made jumper with just over eight minutes remaining in the half at 25-15. Graceland quickly responded going on a 13-4 run and cut the MVC lead to just a point less than three minutes later. Graceland then took the lead for the first time since around the 16-minute mark at 33-32 with a little more than three minutes remaining in the half. The Vikings were unable to retake the lead before halftime, trailing by a 41-38 score. The Vikings shot over 48-percent in the first half, and forced 10 Graceland turnovers, but were outrebounded by a 22-14 margin.
Both teams traded baskets through the first few minutes of the second half, but MVC reclaimed the lead at the 16-minute mark after Junior Law Brown converted a three-point play, giving MVC the 49-48 advantage. The lead then changed hands six times of the next six minutes, before Graceland took the lead at 63-62 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Over the next four minutes, Graceland built up a nine point advantage to take control of the game. The Vikings cut the Graceland lead to just five points with seconds remaining, but the Yellowjackets held off the Vikings, giving MVC a 77-72 defeat.
Leading the way for MVC was Connor who finished with season-high 20 points. Epps added 14 points, with Brown chipping in with 12 points. Senior James Pope had 11 points and eight rebounds. Also Senior David Smith added three points. The Vikings forced Graceland into 18 turnovers, converting those into 13 points. The Vikings also shot 45-percent in the game, and 40-percent on three-point field goals.
The loss drops MVC to 9-20 overall and 4-12 in HAAC play. The Vikings are now in a four-way tie for the last two spots in the HAAC Postseason Tournament, with one more game remaining. Graceland improves to 7-21 and 4-12 in HAAC play. The Vikings are tied with Graceland, Avila University, and Peru State College in the standings.
Next up for the MVC basketball teams is road doubleheader with Avila University Feb. 25. Women's game is set for 5:30 p.m. while the men's game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. This is a rescheduled date after winter weather pushed this game back from Thursday Feb. 21. In the first matchups of the season on Jan. 17 the Lady Vikings defeated Avila 55-51, while the men's team came up with a 64-50 victory.