Evangel women drop heart breaker in HAAC Tournament opener

Phillip Dowden (Evangel Sports Information) SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University women’s basketball team fell in the first round of the Heart Postseason Tournament Monday night, 64-61, to Missouri Valley.

The Crusaders saw their season come to an end in a back and forth battle that saw seven lead changes and four ties. The largest lead for either team came with 54 seconds left in the third quarter when Evangel took a six-point lead over the Vikings.

Missouri Valley would hang with Evangel tying the game at 55-55 with 4:19 on a three-pointer from Linsey Denney. However, the Crusaders answered when Taylor Longley sane a free throw at the 3:13 mark to briefly regain the lead.

The Vikings went on a 6-0 run to take a 61-56 over the final 2:19 before Evangel managed to stop the run on an Allison Swanson jumper in the lane. However, Swanson would foul out as the Vikings were able to knock down free throws to stave off any rally by the Crusaders.

Evangel forced 13 turnovers but was out-rebounded by Missouri Valley 48-30, as the Vikings also shot 42 percent from the field. The Crusaders got 35 points off the bench, led by 17 points from Paige Patterson and 12 points from Madi Johnson. Patterson also finished with eight rebounds to lead the way for Evangel.

Missouri Valley was led by 17 points from Ashley Ward who added 11 boards. Veronika Petkova also finished with a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

Missouri Valley advances to the Heart Quarterfinals Wednesday night as they travel to face No. 2 seed Benedictine.

Evangel finishes its season at 13-17 overall and posting the most wins since the 2010-11 season. The Crusaders graduate five seniors including all-conference players, Allison Swanson and Taylor Longley as well as Reggine Brown, Narel dos Santos, and Samantha Williams.

For the latest information on Evangel athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelAthletics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com.