Behind a 60-percent shooting effort in the second half and a quick start to the third quarter, the No. 13-ranked Raven Women's Basketball team earned a 78-74 win on Wedneday night over Missouri Valley College to advance to the Heart Tournament Semfinals.
Benedictine (24-7) held Missouri Valley (14-18) to just four points through the first four minutes of the third quarter which allowed the Ravens to pull ahead by as much as 19 points as they were able to pick up their eighth straight win over the Vikings.
Benedictine started out the game with a very balanced attack as Haylee Beard connected on her first two 3-pointers while the Ravens were able to get the ball into the post to Serena Parker and Kristen Murphy.
The hot start was short lived for the Ravens as the Vikings clawed their way back within a point, 21-20, by the end of the first quarter.
In their previous two meetings this season, Missouri Valley controlled the second and third quarters of play. The Vikings had outscored the Ravens by a combined scored of 56-51 over the middle half of the game this season – that would not prove to be the case on Wednesday.
After Missouri Valley took a brief lead at the start of the second quarter, the Ravens held the Vikings scoreless for a five-minute stretch in the quarter. Offensively, they went on a 14-0 run to pull ahead by as much as 14 points before taking a 42-34 lead into the half.
Benedictine stretched their halftime lead to as much as 19 points. After the Vikings got their offense going late in the quarter they were able to cut the Ravens lead down to nine points before Benedictine pulled back ahead by 13 headed to the fourth quarter. The Ravens finished the second and third quarter outscoring the Vikings 40-28.
Missouri Valley outscored Benedictine 26-17 in the fourth quarter, turning the tides on the Ravens from their previous two meetings. In the first two games, the Ravens outscored the Vikings by a combined score of 41-24 in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings used a 52.4 percent effort from the floor in the fourth quarter while holding the Ravens to just five fourth-quarter field goals to play their way back into the game. Despite that combination, the Vikings could only pull within four points only to have Parker cap off her scoring effort with a wide-open layup with seven seconds remaining to seal the win for the Ravens.
Parker finished with a team-high 18 points as four Ravens finished in double figures. Lexie Villegas scored 16 points, followed by Murphy with 14 and Beard with 12. The Ravens finished the game hitting 50 percent from the floor, their highest percentage since beating Evangel on Jan. 30 when they hit 51 percent. After hitting 10 of 11 at the free throw line in the first half, the Ravens converted 2 of 3 in the second half to finish the game at 85.7 percent , their best effort since their season opener against John Brown when they converted 92.3 percent.
Benedictine remains at home for a 7 p.m. game on Friday against the tournament's three seed, Central Methodist University. CMU earned an 89-84 win in Fayette, Mo., on Wednesday night over Clarke University. The Ravens took the regular-season series against the Eagles, winning 76-73 at home on Nov. 28 and then 101-92 in double overtime at CMU on Jan. 25. Friday night's winner advance to the Heart Tournament Championship on Monday, March 6, against the winner of the Baker-MNU semifinal being played in Baldwin City on Friday night.