Score: No. 17 MidAmerica Nazarene 85, Evangel 59
Records: Evangel (5-4, 3-3), MidAmerica Nazarene (9-2, 9-1)
Location: Cook Center
OLATHE, Kan. – MidAmerica Nazarene seized control of a tight game with a 15-4 scoring run to open the second half as part of a dominant third period that paved the way to an 85-59 victory over Evangel Wednesday evening at the Cook Center.
The 17th-ranked Pioneers tallied 10 of the first 12 points after intermission and outscored the Crusaders by a 27-11 margin in the third quarter to turn a six-point halftime edge into a 22-point advantage.
After taking a 36-30 lead into the break, MNU wasted little time in extending its cushion to double digits to open the second half. Jordynn Gonzalez scored the first four points of the period, converting a free throw and sinking her third three-pointer of the night to make it a 40-30 game.
The Pioneers, who connected on 11-of-13 free-throw attempts in the third period, used a pair of Megan Scott charity tosses and baskets by Makayla Gooch and Mackenzie Loe to stretch the lead to 17 points. TrEl'Shawn Smith scored four straight points as part of an 8-0 MNU run that extended the margin to 22 points.
MNU cruised to the finish line, leading by as many as 31 in the fourth period. Loe led the Pioneers with 19 points, while Gonzalez totaled 17 to help MNU improve to 9-1 in Heart Conference play.
The contest started with a back-and-forth first quarter that saw each club grab some early momentum. MNU took control midway through the period with a 14-4 scoring run that was fueled by a pair of Gooch three-pointers.
Each team led by as many as five points in the opening 10 minutes of play, as EU built an 11-6 lead behind a pair of Bayley Harman baskets and a Kohnnar Patton trey. But the Pioneers responded behind the shooting of Gooch to seize a 20-15 lead, before Harman's bucket at the buzzer made it a 20-17 game.
Harman, who led all scorers with 12 first-half points, started the second quarter with a successful field goal try, and Logan Jones put the Crusaders back on top with a bucket of her own. Gonzalez and Patton traded three-pointers, before the Pioneers cashed in for three-consecutive buckets in the paint for a 29-24 advantage.
EU would sliced the margin back to three points on a pair of Harman free throws, but Gonzalez answered with her second key triple of the period with just over a minute to play to make it a six-point affair.
MNU's defense forced 21 EU turnovers and limited the Crusaders to 0.356 (21-of-59) shooting from the field. The Pioneers also outscored EU by a 43-34 margin in the paint.
Harman paced the Crusader offense with a season-high 19 points and seven rebounds, and Patton matched a career high with 12 points.
Evangel concludes its two-game road swing Saturday (Jan. 9) with a Noon Heart Conference contest against Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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.