Score: Mount Mercy 71, Evangel 63
Records: Evangel (5-5, 3-4), Mount Mercy (3-7, 3-6)
Location: Hennessey Recreation Center
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Mount Mercy shot a blistering 63-percent from the field in the second half to hand the Evangel women's team its fourth-straight defeat with a 71-63 decision Saturday afternoon at the Hennessey Recreation Center.
The Mustangs took control of a tight contest with an 11-2 run late in the third period, then held off another Evangel charge with seven unanswered fourth-quarter points to seal the outcome.
MMU shot 0.509 (29-for-57) for the afternoon and outscored EU by a 26-17 margin in the third period to turn a two-point halftime deficit into seven-point lead.
Despite 20 points by Bayley Harman, the Crusaders never could get their offense into high gear, shooting just 0.265 (22-for-83) for the afternoon. EU used a big second-quarter run to overcome a sluggish start to take a 29-27 edge into intermission, as Harman tallied 13 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
The key stretch for Mount Mercy came midway through the third period on the heels of Evangel's 9-0 scoring spurt that wiped out a 42-33 deficit. McKenzie Stoehr converted back-to-back buckets to open the critical Mustang run, before two Sammy Mia buckets and a trio of MMU free throws gave the home club a 53-44 advantage at the 1:26 mark of the third period.
EU would claw its way back to within two points behind a Desi Smith three and a Harman basket with 9:17 left in the game.
But the Mustangs responded with a Kyla Richardson bucket and a Mia triple to extend the margin back to six points. After another Mia jumper made it an eight-point game, EU would make one final push, as Brianna Vogts lone field goal of the game and a Harman three-point play pulled the Crusaders to within 60-57 with just under seven minutes to play.
But a Margie Villaruz free throw, followed by a Chailey Cabalis field goal started a back-breaking 7-0 run that ultimately gave the Mustangs a double-digit lead.
Mia and Richardson led four double-digit scorers for MMU with 12 points apiece.
Evangel returns to Springfield for a pair of home conference contests next week, beginning with a Monday (Jan. 11) 5:30 p.m., contest against Park.
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.