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Valor Defense Delivers Critical Heart Conference Victory Over CMU

Valor Defense Delivers Critical Heart Conference Victory Over CMU

The Basics
Final: (RV) Evangel 62, (RV) Central Methodist 56 | Final Stats
Records: Evangel (18-7, 11-5); Central Methodist (18-9, 9-7)
Site: Ashcroft Center

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In a battle of the Heart Conference South Division's top two clubs, Evangel overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit behind a shutdown defensive effort to edge Central Methodist, 62-56, Wednesday evening at the Ashcroft Center.

After watching the Eagles use a 17-2 scoring run over the final six minutes of the first half to turn a six-point Evangel lead into a 34-25 halftime advantage, the Valor turned to its defense to flip the script in the second stanza. EU limited CMU to just 30.8 percent (8-of-26) shooting, while forcing 14 turnovers over the final 20 minutes.

Cade Coffman, who went 0-for-3 from beyond the arc in the first half, scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the second half, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 6:59 to play. The senior All-American combined with Edriel Martinborough and Josh Pritchett to account for 27 of Evangel's 37 second-half points in helping the Valor wipe out a 12-point deficit over the final 17 minutes of regulation.

With the victory, Evangel secured a season sweep of the Eagles and grabbed a two-game lead in the South Division standings with three regular-season conference contests left on the schedule.

Evangel finished the contest on a 35-17 run after Trent Lyles gave the Eagles a 39-27 cushion with his three-pointer at the 16:58 mark. The Valor missed on its first three field-goal attempts of the second half, but ended the game by knocking down 13-of-25 shots down the stretch.

Coffman buried 3-of-5 attempts from long range, while Martinborough scored all nine of his points and Pritchett hit on 5-of-6 free-throw tries after intermission. The outburst started with a Martinborough jumper at the 16:47 mark, before Pavel Antonov scored the next three EU points to pull the Valor to within 41-32.

Pritchett converted a pair of free throws, and Jace Coffie added back-to-back buckets to slice the margin to five points with just under 14 minutes remaining on the clock. Following a Marcus Anthony free throw, Coffie scored in the paint once more to make it a 44-40 game.

Coffman drained the first of his three crucial triples with 11:14 to go, drawing EU ever closer at 46-43. Anthony tipped in an Anthony Brown miss to extend the margin back to five points, but Martinborough delivered an acrobatic drive through the paint to negate those two points. Next, Coffman kept the offensive momentum going, nailing a long three from the top of the key to knot the score at 48-48 with 7:40 left on the clock.

Two Fode Camara free throws momentarily put CMU back on top, but Coffman delivered another dagger 11 seconds later, sinking his third trey of the half to put EU in front to stay.

Free throws by Martinborough and Pritchett stretched the lead to 55-52, while the Evangel defense confounded the Eagles throughout the second half. CMU recorded just two successful field goals in the last nine minutes of play and went just 2-of-7 from the floor after EU seized the lead.

Pritchett helped seal the outcome with one final three-pointer with 29 seconds to play, after Camara had pulled the Eagles to within 59-56 with his layup at the 0:54 mark.

The EU bench aided the cause on both ends of the floor, as the duo of Autry Acord and Coffie combined to register four steals and eight points in the period, while Stephen Salvi blocked three shots on the night. Acord routinely flustered the Eagles on the perimeter, helping the Valor finish the half with a 12-2 scoring advantage in points off of turnovers.

The decisive ending for Evangel reversed the Eagles' big finish to the first half, after the Valor used a big run to establish the upper hand. After missing its first three shots of the contest, EU recovered to convert its next four attempts to gain control. Antonov keyed the string of eight unanswered points with a pair of buckets in the paint, as EU engineered a 16-6 run that led to a seven-point advantage on Salvi's putback with 12:42 to play in the half.

Antonov knocked down a three-pointer at the 10:00 mark, before back-to-back baskets by Manrique Alvarado and Coffman handed the Valor a 23-17 lead.

But the Eagles defense turned the momentum in favor of the visitors down the stretch, as CMU held Evangel scoreless for more than six minutes as part of the game's critical run. EU, which entered the game averaging just 12.5 turnovers per contest, committed 10 in the opening half and registered just one field goal over the final 6:57 of the period.

While the Valor offense struggled, the Eagles took flight behind the play of Anthony, who scored nine points off the bench during the key run.

Coffman finished the night with his second consecutive double-double, pulling to 10 rebounds to go along with his 13 points. Both Antonov and Pritchett added 10 points for the Valor.

Anthony led all scorers with 16 points off the CMU bench, thanks in large part to a 9-of-10 effort at the foul line.

LOOKING AHEAD

Evangel will travel to Marshall, Mo., Saturday (Feb. 12) for a 4 p.m., matchup against Missouri Valley.

For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, visit Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelValor, Twitter (@EvangelValor), or EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on their favorite EU teams by downloading the Evangel Athletics Gameday App through the App Store or Google Play.

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