After trailing most of the first half, the Peru State men's basketball team forged to a seven-point lead after the first 20 minutes. That lead would hold up as the Bobcats claimed their second Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) win over Evangel 88-81 in Springfield, Mo., Saturday afternoon.
The 'Cats improved to 3-2 overall on the season and are now 2-1 in Heart play. The Crusaders fell to 3-4 on the year and are now 1-2 in conference play.
First Half Action
Kendrick Robinson (Chicago) hit a pair of free throws to start the scoring with just 14 seconds off the clock. The Crusaders would then score the next nine points before Nate Townsen Jr. (Richton Park, Ill.) hit a bucket in the paint to make it 9-4 at the 17:40 mark in the first 20 minutes.
Evangel would have their first double-digit lead at 16-6 with 14:24 left in the first half. Peru State would eventually cut the deficit back to five at 20-15 after Henry Tanksley (Lincoln) hit a two-pointer on an assist from Townsen Jr. at the 11:30 point.
Peru State would slowly cut away at the lead and eventually tied it at 28-28 on a bucket by Devon Colley (Las Vegas) in the paint with 5:30 left in the half. The teams would trade leads until a three-pointer by Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) off an assist from Townsen Jr. put the Bobcats in the lead for good at 35-33 with 2:40 left in the first 20 minutes.
The 'Cats would lead by as many as eight at 43-35 after a Robinson bucket with 1:11 to go. After the Crusaders cut the lead down to five with a trey,  Robinson would hit another bucket, this time on an assist from McReynolds to make the score 45-38 after 20 minutes of action.
Second Half Action
Evangel score the first points of the second half with Robinson countering with two of his own. A trey would follow by the Crusaders which would actually pull Evangel to the closest they would be the rest of the game.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Colley was followed by a Robinson bucket and the Bobcats now led 52-43 at the 18:35 point. Colley would make a pair of free throws and then a bucket and the 'Cats now had a 13-point advantage just two and one-half minutes into the second half. A trey by McReynolds off an assist from Tanksley gave the Bobcats their largest lead to that point of 16 at 59-43 with 16:51 left in the game.
Peru State would maintain the double-digit advantage for the next ten minutes as the Crusaders chipped away at the deficit. With 6:40 on the clock, Evangel had pulled to within eight at 69-61. A trey by Tanksley put the Bobcats back up by 11 at 72-61 with an assist going to Robinson.
The Crusaders would get to within six later with the last time being at 77-71 with just 99 seconds to go in the game. Another old-fashioned three-point play, this time by Townsen Jr., was followed by a bucket by Colley and Peru State was back up by 11 at 82-71 with 62 seconds on the clock.
The Bobcats would be outscored 10-6 from that point on, but held on for a big road win.
Team Statistics
Both teams shot the ball well from the floor. Peru State made 29 of 59 field goals for 49.2% which included making 7 of 23 from behind the three-point line for 30.4%. The 'Cats connected on 23 of 32 free throws for 71.9%. Evangel actually shot better from the floor than Peru State as they made 29 of 58 field goal tries for 50%. From long range, the Crusaders hit 9 of 28 for 32.1%. The difference in shooting was at the free throw line as Evangel made 14 of 24 for 58.3%.
Peru State actually out-rebounded the taller Crusaders by eight as they finished with 37. Both teams dished out 17 assists.
The Crusaders finished with three blocks and the 'Cats had one. The Bobcats nabbed one more steal than Evangel as they finished with seven.
Peru Individual Statistics
Five Bobcats finished in double digits to lead Peru State to the win. Colley finished with a game-high 24 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Tanksley and Townsen Jr. each added 16 points while Robinson added 14. McReynolds came off the bench to add 12 points.
Robinson finished with a double-double as he grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the team. Tanksley added six boards with Colley grabbing five.
Robinson and Townsen Jr. each dished out five assists while Colley handed out three.
Tanksley was credited with the lone blocked shot by the Bobcats.
Townsen Jr. grabbed three steals with Tanksley being credited with two.
Upcoming Contests
Peru State will be playing in the Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Dordt in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Nov. 29 and 30. On Friday, the Bobcats will be facing Northwestern (Iowa) at 5 p.m. The Red Raiders are presently 6-2 on the year and are coming off a big home win over Jamestown (N.D.) 103-94 Saturday night.
The tourney hosts will be the opponents for the Bobcats on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Defenders are currently 6-3 after winning their last two games – one of which was over Northwestern.
The Bobcats will then face a tough week as they will play three Heart foes. They will host MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Monday, Dec. 2, and then travel to Baldwin City, Kan., on Thursday to face Baker. Both game will begin at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the 'Cats will host Clarke (Iowa) at 2 p.m.