Score: Evangel 63, Graceland 65
Records: Evangel (1-6, 0-1); Graceland (4-5, 1-0)
Location: Lamoni, Iowa | Closson Center
LAMONI, Iowa – A defensive stand and last-second jumper fell just short Wednesday night as the Evangel men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker, 77-75, at Graceland in the Heart opener for both teams.
Justin Washington stole a Graceland inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds left but his 17-foot jumper at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim as time expired. Graceland was able to hold off Evangel after the Crusaders erased a 16-point deficit in the first half.
Evangel took a 40-35 lead at halftime and led by as many as eight points near the midway point of the half. However, the Yellowjackets regained the lead with a basket at the 6:48 mark in the game and would never relinquish its lead.
Washington pulled Evangel within one after a 3-pointer with 1:24 left in the game pulling the Crusaders within 71-70. After trading baskets, Evangel fouled after a three-pointer from Braden Adams missed with 10 seconds left. Adams led Evangel with 15 points after knocking down four three-pointers in the loss.
Dylan Bekemeier helped give Evangel a chance in the final seconds after a deep three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left pulled the Crusaders within two points. Bekemeier finished with 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds as the senior helped Evangel rally back in the first half.
Graceland shot 71 percent from the free throw line finishing 15-of-21 as Evangel shot just nine free throws after going 3-of-9 to finish 33 percent. The Yellowjackets also out-rebounded the Crusaded 40-27.
Washington added 10 points as the freshman battled foul trouble as Chandler Lyon also finished in double figures adding 12 points and eight boards.
LT Davis finished with a game-high 27 points for Graceland in the win as Justin Harley added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Evangel returns to the Ashcroft Center on Saturday for the conference home opener against Missouri Valley. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelAthletics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Go Evangel Front Row App at EvangelAthletics.com/FrontRow available on Google Play and in the App Store.