Score: MidAmerica Nazarene 74, Evangel 62
Records: Evangel (7-7, 6-3), MidAmerica Nazarene (7-6, 4-6)
Location: Cook Center/Bell Family Arena
OLATHE, Kan. – MidAmerica Nazarene led Evangel from start to finish Wednesday evening, riding a red-hot first-half shooting effort to a 74-62 victory over the Crusaders at the Cook Center.
The Pioneers scored the first 10 points of the contest and knocked down 14 of their first 19 field goal attempts, including a 6-of-8 showing from beyond the arc, to build a 24-point first-half lead.
MNU, which avenged an 85-78 loss to the Crusaders on Nov. 18, needed just two minutes and 20 seconds to build a double-digit advantage. Cameron Brady opened the scoring with a bucket in the paint, before a Blake Spellman three and five-straight Anthony Brown points gave the home club a 10-0 lead.
Back-to-back treys from Cade Coffman and Edriel Martinborough momentarily pulled EU to within four, but Trey Brown responded with a deep three of his own to set off an 11-0 Pioneer spurt that ultimately ballooned into a 26-6 MNU run. Spellman and Dru Smith would add triples, as MNU stretched the margin to 24 with just over six minutes to play in the half.
EU would pull to within 17 on an Jonah Wilson three-pointer, but the Pioneers would finish the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 46-24 lead into the locker room.
MNU, which shot 0.533 in the opening half, continued to extend its lead in the second half, scoring the first seven points after the break. The Pioneers led by 29 on two separate occasions, before Jake Alexander's bucket with 6:05 to play gave them a 30-point bulge.
Despite sustaining their third-straight loss, the Crusaders mounted a late charge led by their bench, outscoring the Pioneers 21-3 over the game's final 5:48. Jace Coffie scored 11 of his career-high 12 points during the late run that saw EU close the final gap to 12 points.
Coffie, who helped the Evangel bench outscore the MNU reserves by a 47-10 margin, added a team-high six rebounds, while Kendall Sutton totaled 11 points and TJ Boykins added eight—all career highs for the EU trio.
Anthony Brown led MNU with a game-high 22 points, while Pedro Lopes finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Evangel's Saturday (Jan. 9) afternoon contest with Mount Mercy has been postponed. The Crusaders will return to action next Wednesday (Jan. 13) with a 7:30 p.m., home game against Benedictine.
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.