Wilkerson’s 34 leads No. 6 Cavaliers past No. 24 Crusaders

St Gregory's Cavaliers

From St. Gregory’s Sports Info.
Brad Collins, Sports Information Director

SHAWNEE – St. Gregory’s All-American Marty Wilkerson picked up where he left off in 2013-14, scoring a game-high 34 points in the No. 6-ranked Cavaliers’ 91-79 win over No. 20 Evangel (Mo.) Friday night at W.P. Wood Field House.

Wilkerson finished 11 of 25 from the field, adding seven assists and three steals as his team pulled away with an early second-half run. Fellow senior Jaron Vierra added 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while T.J. Thornton finished with 17 on 5 of 6 from three-point range.

“I thought we played pretty well against a pretty good team in Evangel,” said St. Gregory’s coach John Martin. “You don’t really know what to expect coming out in the first game, but overall, I was pleased with our effort.”

St. Gregory’s shot 48 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range, nailing 15 from long range for the game. The Cavs held the Crusaders to 40 percent shooting – including 38 percent after halftime.

St. Gregory’s led 43-38 at the break after scoring nine of their 13 field goal makes from beyond the arc. The Cavs shot 56 percent from three-point range in the first 20 minutes and 45 percent overall. Wilkerson had 17 on 6 of 13 shooting.

SGU had a 14-5 lead early after a Thornton trey. The home team held the visitors to only 1 of 10 from the floor early on. The Crusaders got back in it, though, after the Cavs made only two field goals over the next 8:41. Evangel led 31-25 after a pair of Nick Yocum free throws with 4:36 left in the first half.

Wilkerson helped reverse the momentum heading into intermission, scoring 10 points over the next 2:30 – part of a 16-2 run for St. Gregory’s.

The Cavs virtually put it away early in the second half, going on a 16-4 spurt after intermission to increase the lead to 65-45. Wilkerson had 10 of those points. The visitors closed to within nine at the 3:05 mark, but that’s as close as they would get.

St. Gregory’s resumes play Saturday against Bacone College at 7 p.m.

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