January 26, 2014
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – For the sixth time this season, the No. 15-ranked Benedictine (Kan.) College men's basketball team stepped on the floor against a member of the NAIA Div. I Top 25 as they took on No. 5 Evangel (Mo.) University in the NAIA DIv. Men's Basketball Game of the Week. Benedictine (15-4, 8-1 HAAC), who was playing against their second NAIA Div. I Top 15 program in the past three days, went 6 for 6 from the free throw line over the final 30 seconds on Saturday to hold off a late run by No. 5 Evangel (16-4, 7-1 HAAC) 85-82 and move to 6-0 against NAIA Div. I ranked opponents this season.
The Ravens took on two ranked opponents during November, going 2-0 against then-ranked No. 21 Park University and also knocking off then-ranked No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist. They also ended 2013 with a home win over No. 1 Columbia (Mo.) College. This past week, Benedictine earned a win over No. 11 Culver-Stockton 79-72 at home on Thursday before traveling to Springfield to earn the three-point win over the Crusaders.
Saturday, Benedictine led for much of the game against Evangel. After leading by as much as 12 points in the first half and 10 points in the second half, Benedictine found themselves in a battle over the final five minutes of the game. Evangel's top scorer, Zack Kleine knocked in a 3-pointer with 5:04 left in the game to pull the game into its second tie at 68 points. Kleine single-handedly pushed the Crusaders back into the lead for just the second time since their opening basket of the game but the lead was short lived.
Benedictine's Jonathan Anaekwe and John Harris Jr. hit three straight free throws 90 seconds after Evangel took the lead to pull the game into its third tie at 70 points. Evangel answered Harris Jr.'s second free throw to pull back in front with a field goal at the 3:20 mark only to have Harris Jr. answer on the other end for Benedictine to push the Ravens ahead 73-72 with 3:09 remaining. Benedictine never gave back the lead as baskets from Charlie Wallrapp and Harris Jr. kept the Ravens up by three points setting up the final 30 seconds where the Ravens capitalized at the charity stripe.
The Ravens hit 17 of 21 free throws in the second have, finishing the game at 78.1 percent. Benedictine held Evangel to just 26.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc but the Crusaders were able to overcome their 3-point shooting effort from the charity stripe.
Evangel went 20 of 25 at the line in the first half and 10 of 11 in the second half to finish at 83.3 percent. Benedictine finished the game hitting 51.9 percent from the floor against the Crusader's No. 12-ranked field goal percent defense.
Wallrapp scored 24 points to lead four Ravens in double figures while Kleine finished with a game-high 27 points for the Crusaders. Harris Jr. added 17 points for Benedictine while Anaekwe added 14. Shawn Fleming Jr. scored 11 points off the Benedictine bench, which held a 21-9 advantage over Evangel's.
The win in Springfield gives Benedictine their first win over Evangel on the road since Dec. 2, 2006 when they beat the Crusaders 76-67. It also gives the Ravens sole possession of first place in the HAAC by a half game over Evangel as the second half of conference plays begins this next week.
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