Score: Evangel 81, Park 68
Records: Evangel (3-3, 2-0), Park (0-2, 0-2)
Location: Ashcroft Center
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Stephen Salvi's 23 points led another strong offensive performance by the Evangel men's basketball team Saturday, as the Crusaders built a double-digit first-half lead and never looked back in an 81-68 victory over Park at the Ashcroft Center.
Salvi connected on 8-of-10 attempts from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, en route to a career scoring high. Josh Pritchett added 18 point and six assists to help the Crusaders lock up their third-consecutive victory and a 2-0 start in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
Pritchett's 12 first-half points led an Evangel offensive attack that saw the Crusaders shoot 0.433 from the floor to build a 39-30 lead at intermission. EU used a shutdown defense to establish an early eight-point cushion, holding the Pirates scoreless for nearly four minutes in the early stages of the contest.
After Park responded with a 10-3 run to pull to within a point, three-pointers by Pritchett, Cade Coffman and Salvi fueled a 13-2 spurt that handed EU a 25-14 advantage with just over 11 minutes left in the half.
The Pirates scored eight unanswered points to draw back to within 25-22, but Pritchett responded with a pair of transition buckets to spark what would turn into a 12-2 run. EU seized its largest lead of the half at 37-24 on another Salvi three-pointer with 3:08 remaining on the clock to punctuate the outburst.
Salvi stretched the lead to 14 points on two separate occasions in the second half by knocking down three-point attempts. The freshman converted his first six shots after the half, initiating an 8-0 run that countered a Park spurt that saw the Pirates slice the EU lead to seven points with just under 11 minutes to play. Pritchett played a key role in that Crusader rally as well, scoring five straight EU points to keep the Pirates at bay.
The visitors would get no closer than nine the rest of the way, as Coffman drained a trio of shots in the final four minutes, the last of which gave Evangel a 17-point lead—its largest of the game.
Coffman finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Pavel Antonov tallied 11 for his third-straight double-figure scoring effort.
Ernest Myles led Park with a 14-point, 15-rebound effort, and Rodrigue Marthone combined with Quez Williamson for 33 points to pace the Pirate offense.
The Crusaders will try for their fourth-straight victory Tuesday (Nov. 24) with a 6 p.m. Heart Conference game against Graceland at the Ashcroft Center.
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EUAthletics, Twitter (@EUAthletics), or visit EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the new Evangel Crusaders GamedayApp through Google Play.