The Mid-America Christian University Evangels improved to 6-3 in the Sooner Athletic Conference for the first time since 2009-10 season with a 71-59 victory over the Lubbock Christian University Chaps Thursday night (Jan. 31) inside the Gaulke Activity Center. The win keeps the Evangels in the third spot in the SAC, one game behind Oklahoma Baptist University and two games in back of leader John Brown University.
The Evangels got off to a quick start and led by 11 three times in the second half after holding the Chaps scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the contest.
LCU came back to tie the score at 25-25 but a three by Josh Young gave the Evangels a three-point edge at the break.
The Chaps then surged ahead for their first lead of the game on a score from A.J. Luckey that made it 42-40 at the 11:12 mark of the second half.
A score by Josh Minner tied the score and Yuri Hager put the Evangels in front to stay by scoring off a turnover for a 44-42 lead.
The Evangels (11-7, 6-3 SAC) then took the game over defensively and held the Chaps (11-10, 4-5 SAC) to only seven points over the next eight minutes.
MACU out-scored the Chaps 20-7 over that stretch as a bucket by Angelo Lewis and a putback from Yuri Hager built the lead back to 11 at 60-49 with just 3:09 remaining.
The Evangels never looked back from there and expanded the lead to 13 on two occasions, with the last being on a free throw from Lewis that grew the edge to 67-54 with 1:18 left.
Lewis led the Evangels with 18 points on 8-of-13 from the field, while Camilo Valencia added 14 and team-highs of four assists and four steals. Hager chipped in with 10 points along with a career-best eight rebounds. Charlie Shorter added nine points and seven boards, marking only the second time this season the SAC's leading scorer failed to reach double-figures.
Luckey also scored 18 to pace the Chaps and Jabril Durham added 17 points and a team-high six assists. Eli Baker led the way with a game-high 12 boards.
The Evangels struggled on the boards in the first half, but out-rebounded the Chaps 23-18 in the second half to cut the margin on the glass to only 45-43 overall.
MACU got especially defensive beyond the arc, limiting the Chaps to only a 12.5 percent (2-of-16) clip from three-point distance. The Evangels also forced the Chaps into 23 turnovers on the night.
MACU will remain at home and host Wayland Baptist University on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 2) at 3 p.m. The Evangels will be looking to avenge an earlier loss at WBU that saw them blow a 17-point second half lead and fall to the Pioneers 79-74.