by Philip Dowden
The Evangel women’s basketball team bounced back with an impressive 68-54 victory Wednesday night over Benedictine in Heart of America Athletic Conference action.
The Crusaders knocked off a Ravens team that was receiving votes in the Top 25 and potentially created a five-way tie for third place in the league standings.
A steal by Bayley Harman and finish on the offensive end by Emma Lander gave the Crusaders a 7-6 lead with 5:39 left in the first quarter. Evangel never looked back building a 12-point lead just before halftime and taking a 34-24 lead at the break.
“We have been emphasizing our defense, and the importance of it,” said head coach Megan Leuzinger. “I thought we did a great job tonight on that end. I am really proud of how our girls played tonight.”
Defensively, Evangel forced 21 turnovers and out-rebounded Benedictine 40-34.
After a cold shooting performance on Saturday, the Crusaders responded to shoot 43 percent from the field while forcing 12 steals.
“Offensively, to have 18 assists was huge. Benedictine is a good team. It was great to be able to defend our home court,” Leuzinger said.
Evangel improved to 5-2 at home as a balanced scoring attack saw Emma Lander and Brianna Vogts each finish with 10 points. Nine different Crusaders found the scoring column as Lexie Vaught added eight points, five rebounds, five assists, and six steals.
Benedictine was led by Skylar Washington who scored 19 points off the bench.
“A total team effort tonight,” Leuzinger added. “From the girls on the bench to the girls on the floor. We dug in and competed well.”
Evangel returns to the road on Saturday at Clarke who is also receiving votes in the Top 25 and half a game ahead of the Crusaders. Tipoff from Dubuque, Iowa is scheduled for 12 p.m.