Score: Evangel 86, Mid-America Christian 89 | Box Score
Records: Evangel (0-1); Mid-America Christian (2-0)
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. | Gaulke Activities Center
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Early season grit saw the Evangel women's basketball rally back to push Mid-America Christian to overtime before falling 89-86 in the season opener.
The Crusaders fell to 0-1 on the year while MACU, the defending NCCAA National Champions, improved to 2-0.
After a 19-19 first quarter MACU managed to build a 42-34 halftime lead. It wasn't until the third quarter when Evangel regained its momentum after shooting 47 percent from behind the three-point arc in the second half.
A three-pointer by Courtney Austin at the 5:44 mark gave Evangel its first lead since early in the first quarter at 51-49. However, MACU had an answer for each Crusader run taking a 66-60 lead into the fourth quarter.
"First off, hats off to MACU," said second-year Evangel head coach Megan Leuzinger. "We knew coming into this game that it would be a challenge for us."
Evangel again would take the lead on a three-pointer by Lexie Vaught with 3:27 left in the game. Vaught led all scorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Evangel
Defensively both teams would force turnovers as Evangel committed 23 turnovers and MACU committed 22 in the second game for the home team.
Alexis Shannon made a pair of free throws for MACU with 47 seconds left to tie the game which eventually found its way into overtime. Both teams were unable to come up with the needed offense in the final minute.
Kylee Moore would knock down two free throws with 1:08 in overtime to give the Crusaders an 85-84 lead. However, MACU got back to back layups after a defensive stop with 34 seconds left to lead 87-84. Moore finished with nine points and seven assists.
"I loved how we competed with them," said Leuzinger. "I saw a lot of great things from our freshmen. We definitely have a lot of things to continue to work on."
Evangel was unable to find the three-point shot it needed as Courtney Austin chipped in under the basket to pull within one with three seconds left. Austin added 13 points as she was joined in double figures off the bench by fellow freshman Alexis Roach with 14 points.
MACU hit two free throws with two seconds left to lead 89-86 as one final heave at the buzzer fell short for Evangel.
Brianna Vogts narrowly missed a double-double with 18 points and nine boards for the Crusaders.
Evangel finished 12 of 30 from behind the three-point line to go 40 percent from the game. The Crusaders also out-rebounded MACU 45-42 but were unable to keep pace at the free-throw line where they shot just 50 percent compared to 62 percent by the home team.
"Not making our free throws down the stretch hurt us. We have to take the mistakes that were made this game and learn from them."
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelAthletics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Go Evangel Front Row App at EvangelAthletics.com/FrontRow available on Google Play and in the App Store.