With MNU holding a 74-71 lead and less than a minute to play, Avila had two chances to tie following a miss by Rustin Dowd that would have made it a two possession game. Austin Stockard, who had just drained a three-pointer with 2:01 to play, missed from the right wing. Kelby Phelps tracked down the rebound, but Curtis Churchman was also off the mark.
The rebound was tipped around before Luke Thomas appeared to get his hands on the loose ball. However, the MNU sophomore was standing on the sideline, giving the Eagles another chance to tie the game. Stockard worked his way into the right corner, but Clark blocked his attempt out of bounds with 8.8 seconds to play.
That was the last good chance for the Eagles. Phelps got the ball on the final possession, but he was unable to reach the bucket with his last-chance heave. Clark was fouled after picking up the rebound and hit a pair of free throws to clinch the win and maintain the Pioneers' two-game lead atop the conference standings.
The loss took some of the shine off of a career night for Avila's Zach Smith. The junior forward scored a career-high 35 points, two shy of the single-game high by a HAAC player this season. He hit 16-of-30 shots from the field to go along with 10 rebounds, splitting up his points evenly as he had 17 points at halftime.
Not to be outdone, MNU had its own offensive standout in Conner Langrehr, who had a team-high 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting while hitting all six of his free throws. He also had two rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots to lead a Pioneer offense that converted 57.4 percent from the field (27-of-47).
Avila dominated the game on the offensive glass, claiming 18 offensive boards with Kevin Booker tallying six while Smith added five. However, the Eagles shot 37.5 percent for the game and were just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. Stockard was the only other Avila player in double figures with 11 points to go along with 8 rebounds.
Jacob French added 12 points and 6 rebounds for MNU (18-7, 12-1 HAAC), which survived 18 turnovers by scoring 44 points in the paint and getting 17 points from its bench. Rustin Dowd added 9 points and 5 rebounds while Clark led the bench effort with 7 points.
MNU looks to avenge its only loss in conference play this Saturday, February 11 at home against Benedictine while Avila travels to Central Methodist with both games set to tip-off at 4:00pm.