In a battle of two of the top 10 scoring defenses in NAIA Div. I, the No. 10-ranked Raven Men's Basketball team moved into a tie for second place in the Heart as they earned a 82-74 win over Missouri Valley College on Saturday afternoon inside the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium.
Benedictine (16-3, 5-2 Heart) entered Saturday with the No. 3-ranked scoring defense in the NAIA as they limited their opponents to just 58.1 points per game while Missouri Valley (11-6, 5-2 Heart) entered the game with the No. 10-ranked scoring defense as they limited their opponents to just 64.6 points per game.
Benedictine's defense had the upper hand in the first half, as the Ravens limited the Vikings to just five field goals and 17.9 percent shooting effort from the floor.
While the Raven defense was limiting the Vikings, they converted on 11 field goals but managed just one 3-pointer over the first 20 minutes of play.
It was a big 3-pointer as Shawn Fleming Jr. converted from the corner in the final seconds of the half to push the Ravens ahead at halftime, 33-21.
The 12-point lead came after the two team played throueh two ties and three lead changes in the first half.
Benedictine used the momentum of the Fleming Jr. 3-pointer to jump out of the gate quickly in the second half.
Jallen Messersmith capped off a 7-2 start to the second half for the Ravens with a transition dunk off an assist from John Harris Jr. to push Benedictine to its largest lead of the game at 17 points, 40-23.
Benedictine continued to maintain a double figure lead into the final three minutes of the game when Missouri Valley cut the Ravens lead down to single digits.
The Ravens went to the charity stripe 12 times over the final one minute and 48 seconds converting 11 times to close out the Vikings.
Harris Jr. scored a game-high 23 points to pace the Ravens offense. He converted on 15 of 19 from the charity stripe while converting four field goals.
Jonathan Anaekwe was close behind with 21 points while also having a strong night at the charity stripe. Anaekwe went 10 of 12 at the free throw line while converting on five field goals.
Messersmith finished with eight points going 4 for 4 from the floor while Fleming Jr. and Connor Fleming each added seven points.
The Ravens hit the road Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. game in Canton, Mo., against Culver-Stockton College before returning to the Nolan Gymnasium floor for a potential Top 25 showdown with Evangel University at 2 p.m. Saturday.