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Peru State men top Evangel, stay in Heart race

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

The Peru State men's basketball team kept itslef in the heat of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) race with an 86-72 win over the visiting Evangel (Mo.) Crusaders on Saturday.

The Bobcats improved to 13-11 overall. But, more importantly, the 'Cats are now 12-6 in the Heart having won four-straight conference games.

Evangel fell to 13-11 as well and went to 9-9 in the Heart.

Peru State is in a tie for third in the Heart with Benedictine (Kan.) as both teams are three games out of first place and 1.5 games out of second. The Bobcats and Ravens have a 1.5 game lead over the fifth-place MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) Pioneers.

First Half Action

The Crusaders took the early lead and had a 16-8 lead with 16:31 to go. It was at that point, that the Peru State team started to really get into the contest.

Henry Tanksley (Lincoln) hit a trey off an assist from Isaac Simpson (Papillion) to cut the deficit to five. That was followed by another three-pointer, this time from Kendrick Robinson (Chicago) off an assist from Devon Colley (Las Vegas). Then, at the 15:14 mark, Robinson hit another three coming off an assist from Tanksley and the 'Cats jumped to a 17-16 lead.

The teams would trade buckets until there was 12:42 left in the first 20 minutes with Evangel leading 22-21. Nick Brannon (Las Vegas) hit a bucket about a minute later off an assist from Colley which gave Peru State the lead for good.

Simpson followed with a trey off an assist from Brannon and then Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) extended the lead to 28-22 with a bucket off a fast break. Robinson would give Peru State its largest lead at that point of eight with basket off an assist from Colley. With 9:28 left in the first half, the 'Cats led 30-22.

The Crusaders would keep the deficit to single digits until the 4:10 mark when O'Nandi Brooks (Brooklyn, N.Y.) grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to make it 38-28.

Peru State would have its largest lead of the half at 11 after McReynolds hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds left in the half. The Bobcats would lead 44-33 after the first 20 minutes.

Second Half Action

Simpson started the second half with a trey off an assist from Brannon and the Bobcats had their largest lead of the game at 47-33 at the 19:35 mark.

Later, the 'Cats extended their lead to 17 at 52-35 after Robinson hit a pair of free throws with 18:26 on the clock.

Evangel would then go on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 52-45 with 14:44 to go. The Bobcats would respond as Noah Vasa (Nebraska City) hit a three-pointer off an assist from Colley to put the 'Cats back up by ten.

Later, with 11:19 left in the game, Robinson hit a trey coming off an assist from McReynolds to give the 'Cats their largest lead of 19 at 66-47.

With 5:38 remaining, Peru State had their first 20-point lead after Vasa got a dunk off an assist from Colley. Brannon would follow with a trey to give the 'Cats their largest lead of the contest at 80-58.

The Crusaders would outscore the Bobcats 14 to 6 down the stretch but it was not enough as Peru State got their 12th Heart win of the season.

Team Statistics

Peru State was hot from the floor as they hit 30 of 53 field goals for 56.6% which included making 17 of 30 from behind the arc for 56.7%. At the charity stripe, the 'Cats went 9 of 12 for 75%. Evangel made 26 of 67 field goal tries for 38.8% and were 8 of 33 from long range for 24.2%. The Crusaders connected on 12 of 16 free throws for 75%.

The Bobcats grabbed 37 rebounds while the Crusaders finished with 27. Peru State had 24 assists – eight more than Evangel.

Peru State did turn the ball over 25 times while Evangel had 16 miscues. Both teams blocked four shots. The Bobcats grabbed one more steal than the Crusaders as they finished with nine.

Peru Individual Statistics

Five Bobcats finished in double-digit scoring with Robinson and Tanksley each finishing with 16 points. Simpson added 15 points – all coming from behind the arc. McReynolds and Vasa each contributed 11 points while coming off the bench.

Robinson finished with a double-double as he had a game-high ten rebounds. Brannon added nine boards.

Colley dished out a game-high ten assists while Robinson handed out seven.

Robinson, Colley, Tanksley, and Brannon were each credited with one block.

Simpson led the team with three steals while Colley nabbed two.

Upcoming Contests

Peru State will play a pair of games at home this coming week before hitting the road.

Wednesday night, the Grand View (Iowa) Vikings will be the opponents at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Vikings are presently 6-16 on the season and are 4-14 in the Heart having lost their last four games.

For the women's and men's games Wednesday night, the Peru Association of Student Athletes (PASA) will host their annual staff appreciation night. All Peru State employees and their families are invited to attend. Between the games, PASA will recognize 15 individuals who were identified by the members as making a difference in their Peru State lives.

On Saturday, February 15, the Bobcats will be facing Central Methodist (Mo.) at 4 p.m. The Eagles have won their last two games and are now 9-15 on the season overall and are 8-10 in conference play.