Score: Evangel 79, Central Methodist 65
Records: Evangel (5-3, 4-0), Central Methodist (5-4, 3-2)
Location: Ashcroft Center
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel men's basketball team strengthened its hold on the top spot in the Heart Conference South Division standings with a 79-65 victory over Central Methodist Wednesday evening at the Ashcroft Center.
The Crusaders improved to 4-0 in conference play with a dominant second-half performance against the Eagles and a 22-point effort from Cade Coffman. EU shot 54.5 percent (18-of-33) from the floor after intermission to pull away for a comfortable victory, giving the Crusaders their first five-game win streak since January 2015.
Coffman went 10-of-12 at the foul line to match his season scoring high, while Josh Pritchett carried the Crusaders with a 15-point second-half effort after being held scoreless over the game's first 20 minutes.
After taking a 29-27 lead into halftime, the Crusaders wasted no time in taking control in the second half. Pritchett, who missed all four of his first-half field goal attempts, converted an old-fashioned three-point play just a minute into the third period to set up an 8-0 EU spurt.
CMU used back-to-back three-pointers from Austin Fisher and Chandler Bevans to pull to within four points, but Coffman and Pritchett answered with buckets to make it an eight-point game, before Pavel Antonov scored the first of two consecutive baskets in the paint with 14:51 left to play to extend the lead back to double digits.
Antonov recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four blocks and three assists.
Pritchett added two more three-point plays, the second of which turned the tide in EU's favor for good with 8:04 remaining in the game. After CMU's Jeff Salmon sliced the Crusader lead to 54-50 with a three-pointer, Pritchett drove the lane, scored and drew a foul. The sophomore converted the free throw, and Edriel Martinborough added a back-breaking triple on the Crusaders' next possession to push the lead to 10 points.
Evangel would outscore the Eagles by a 22-9 margin to lead by as many as 17 points in the closing minutes.
Pritchett went 6-of-8 from the field in the second half and totaled four assists, four rebounds and two blocks to go along with his 15-point night. Martinborough contributed nine points, five rebounds and three assists with a 4-for-5 shooting performance.
As a team, Evangel shot 0.475 from the floor and connected on 17-of-24 (0.708) free-throw attempts for the game.
The Crusaders open a three-game road swing with a 4 p.m., Saturday (Dec. 5) contest at Benedictine in Atchison, Kan.
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.