Score: Evangel 89, Central Methodist 70
Records: Evangel (3-0, 1-0), Central Methodist (3-2, 2-2)
Location: Ashcroft Center
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Brianna Vogts' 19-point, 14-rebound effort powered Evangel to an 89-70 victory over Central Methodist in the Crusaders' Heart of America Athletic Conference opener Wednesday evening at the Ashcroft Center.
After being held to two points over the game's first 20 minutes, Vogts scored nine of her 17 second-half points during a critical third-period run that saw the Crusaders outscore the Eagles by a 29-18 margin and seize control of the contest for good. The junior finished the night 9-of-15 from the floor to go along with a season-high 14 boards, three assists and three blocks. Freshman Logan Jones added a career-best 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, helping the Crusaders connect on 46.2 percent of their second-half field goal attempts.
"I'm so proud of this team," head coach Megan Leuzinger said. "To persevere and play the way they did tonight after dealing with the layoff we've endured is amazing. Every single player on our team stepped up in different ways when they were called upon."
In its first game action since Nov. 7, EU shook off the rust to overcame a sluggish offensive performance and build a seven-point lead late in the second period. Despite hitting just 1-of-12 attempts from beyond the three-point arc, the Crusaders led 36-29, before the Eagles scored the final seven points of the half to send the two teams to the locker room deadlocked at 36-36.
After trading the lead several times over the first two minutes of the third quarter, the Crusaders broke on top courtesy of a Jones three-point with 7:30 left on the clock. CMU pulled to within one point three times over the ensuing three minutes, but Rylee Neill canned another triple with just under four minutes to play in the period to give EU a 52-48 advantage.
Alexis Roach converted a bucket in the paint to make it a six-point affair, before Vogts' lay-in with 2:33 to play in the quarter stretched the margin to 58-51. Jones' second trey of the period capped a 13-4 run that handed the Crusaders a 65-54 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
EU continued to put the pressure on CMU, extending its lead to as many as 24 points in the closing minutes after holding the Eagles to three points over the first 5:43 of the fourth period.
Vogts added three more field goals in the final period and Kohnnar Patton converted a pair of long threes and two free throws late in the contest en route to a career-best 12 points.
Roach chipped in with 11 points, three assists and three steals, while Sophie Sparks registered eight points, seven rebounds and four assists to help spark a strong effort by the EU bench. The Crusader reserves outscored their CMU counterparts by a 48-19 margin to help lock up EU's second 3-0 start in Leuzinger's three seasons at the helm.
The Crusaders open a three-game road swing with a 2 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.