KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The top four seeds will continue their quest toward the 2013 Heart of America Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament championship after picking up first round wins on Thursday, February 28.
HAAC Tournament - Quarterfinal Round Recap
#1 Evangel 73, #8 Peru State 68
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A late defensive play allowed Evangel to survive a second-straight nailbiter against visiting Peru State, 73-68, in the Ashcroft Center. The Crusaders (23-6) edged out a one-point victory over the Bobcats just five days ago when a last-second shot by Derrick Williams would not go down for Peru State. This time around, Evangel forced a turnover thanks to a five-second violation with 20 seconds remaining and a three-point lead. Zack Kleine and Victor Agbasi each hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to give the Crusaders a berth in the semifinal round for the fourth-straight season. Kleine finished with 17 points for the Crusaders while Agbasi added 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in just his third start of the season. Stephen Cotten chipped in 11 points and Korry Tillery added 10 points while both players grabbed six rebounds. Kody Kirkpatrick led all scorers with 26 points for Peru State (12-18) while Williams finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Richard Oppitz tallied 10 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds as the Bobcats posted a 35-29 edge on the glass, but committed 18 turnovers.
#2 Culver-Stockton 75, #7 Avila 60
CANTON, Mo. - Culver-Stockton battled back from a six-point halftime deficit with 42 points in the second half to claim a 75-60 win over visiting Avila in Charles Field House. Avila gave Culver-Stockton a difficult time when the two teams met last on Jan. 26 in Kansas City, also taking a six-point halftime lead in that game before falling by five points. On Thursday evening, the Wildcats (24-7) shot just 10-of-29 (.345) in the first half that included a 2-for-13 line from beyond the arc to lead to a 29-23 deficit at the break. Culver-Stockton doubled its first half three-point total within the first 5:00 of the second half as Marshawn Norris connected from distance at the 15:09 mark for a 39-38 lead. After a free throw by the Eagles' Sedrick Johnson, the Wildcats ran off a 15-2 stretch over 8:10 to claim a 54-41 lead. The lead would remain in double digits the remainder of the contest with the lead growing to as much as 19 points down the stretch. Norris finished with game-highs of 22 points and eight assists for the Wildcats while Austin Keaton tossed in 15 points and nine rebounds. James Johnson tallied 11 points and six rebounds off the bench while C.J. Adams chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds. Johnson led Avila (10-19) with 19 points and five assists while Brandon Redmond finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
#3 MidAmerica Nazarene 69, #6 Baker 68
OLATHE, Kan. - Jacob French hit a left-handed runner in the lane as time expired to help MidAmerica Nazarene hold off Baker, 69-68, in the Bell Family Arena. The Pioneers (23-8) nearly ended defense of their tournament title in the opening round after seeing all of a 12-point second half lead evaporate. Baker (15-14) trailed by nine points with 4:08 to play, but outscored MNU by a 13-3 ledger over the next 4:00 and took a one-point lead on a 12-foot bank shot by Jordan Honore with 6.8 seconds to play. Following a timeout, Nick Syrie raced up the right side of the floor for MNU before firing a pass to French at the top of the key. The Pioneers' senior took one dribble and lofted a left-handed floater than rattled through the rim just before the final horn. The bucket came after French had missed a short jumper with 26 seconds to play which gave Honore the chance for his go-ahead bucket. Luke Thomas led the way for MNU with 15 points and six rebounds while Conner Langrehr tallied 13 points, French added 11 points and David Clark tossed in 10 points. Ben Steinlage led all scorers with 16 points for Baker while Corey Anderson recorded 12 points and five rebounds. Honore also added 11 points for the Wildcats.
#4 Central Methodist 81, #5 Benedictine 69
FAYETTE, Mo. - Central Methodist shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half and tallied 55 points after halftime to claim a 81-69 win over Benedictine in Puckett Field House. The Eagles (19-12) more than doubled their output from the first half when they scored just 26 points and shot 34.6 percent from the field in the opening stanza. Trailing by three at the break, the Eagles' Melvin Tillman came out hot to start the second half, hitting a pair of three-pointers and scoring eight points in the first four minutes. The game remained tight until the final minutes when Tillman hit a pair of free throws before converting a turnover for a basket to give the Eagles a 71-65 lead with 1:59 to play. The Eagles scored 12-straight points overall and Benedictine missed three shots, committed a pair of turnovers and missed four free throws over 2:35 to pull away for the victory. Tillman hit 5-of-7 three-point shots to finish with a game-high 25 points for Central Methodist while Elliott Black tallied 18 points and Robert Mason added 10 points. T.J. Stevens came off the bench to lead Benedictine (18-12) with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds while Shawn Fleming Jr. tallied 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.