Morningside's nationally ranked women's basketball team came up with a huge Saturday performance for the second week in a row when the sixth-ranked Mustangs knocked off No. 9 Briar Cliff 85-73 at Briar Cliff.
The Mustangs, who blew out Nebraska Wesleyan 114-49 the previous Saturday, led wire-to-wire and never let the Chargers into the game. Chelsie Trask made a 3-pointer to open the scoring and the Mustangs had a double figure lead less than six minutes into the contest when a Jessica Tietz basket with 14:42 left in the first half put them up 17-6.
Morningside won its seventh game in a row, completed a regular season sweep of Briar Cliff, and moved one step closer to a possible GPAC title. Morningside raised its overall record to 23-4 and climbed to 15-3 in the GPAC for a one-game advantage over No. 4 Concordia (14-4) with two league dates remaining. A victory by Briar Cliff (22-6 overall and 13-5 in the GPAC) would have put the Chargers in a three-way log jam with Morningside and Concordia atop the league standings, but the setback virtually ended their title hopes.
Morningside, one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation, overcame one of its worst 3-point shooting performances of the season to topple the Chargers. The Mustangs made only four of 27 3-point shots for 14.8 percent, but offset their cold shooting from the perimeter with dominant play from Ashlynn Muhl and Jessica Tietz in the paint. Muhl drilled seven of 11 floor shots and went eight-for-10 from the free-throw line en route to a game-high 22 points, while Tietz made five of nine field goal attempts and finished with 12 points.
The Mustangs also received double figure scoring from Chelsie Trask and Hanna Blum, who finished with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Blum, who scored in double figures for the fourth game in a row, made four of six field goal attempts and has made 15 of 25 shots for 60.0 percent over the last four contests.
After their four double figure scorers, the Mustangs received six points each from Leann Osten, Shelby Beaudette, and Jordyn Wollenburg.
Morningside dominated the boards by a 54-37 margin and had 20 rebounds off the offensive glass. Muhl led the way with eight caroms, while Blum and Osten each had six and Tietz had five.
Briar Cliff's Kelsey Evans grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and dealt four assists to share game honors with the Mustangs' Beaudette and Osten. Evans also paced the Chargers with 13 points, all in the second half after early foul trouble limited the Chargers' top scorer to a seven-minute opening half.
The Mustangs led by as many as 16 points, 47-31 with 1:33 left in the first half before they took a 47-34 advantage into the intermission. Morningside opened its biggest lead of the game with 16:59 left in the contest when a basket by Muhl put the Mustangs up by 17 points, 55-38.
Evans led a Briar Cliff rally that saw the Chargers close within 10 points on five different occasions. The Chargers made it a single-digit difference for the first time since the opening minutes when a Heather Haber bucket made it 81-73 with 2:05 left in the contest, but that ended the Chargers' scoring.
Morningside can clinch at least a share of the GPAC crown with a win against Mount Marty College on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Yankton, S.D. The Lancers upset the Mustangs 77-68 earlier this season on Jan. 9 in Sioux City.
Morningside won its third game in a row with a 76-66 upset win at Briar Cliff in Saturday's GPAC men's basketball action.
The Mustangs climbed back to the .500 mark with a record of 14-14, including a 9-9 mark in the GPAC, while Briar Cliff slipped to 19-9 overall and 10-8 in the league.
The Mustangs were at their best down the stretch when they outscored Briar Cliff 18-4 over the final seven minutes. The Morningside scoring run came after Ricky Torres made a 3-pointer with 7:18 left in the game to put the Chargers up by a four-point margin, 62-58.
Baskets by Danny Rudeen and Tanner Miller tied the score at 62-62 with 5:06 left in the game. A Kyle Nikkel free throw gave the Mustangs a 63-62 lead before Briar Cliff took its final lead of the contest when a Zach Otting hoop put the Chargers up 64-63 with 4:17 left to play.
Morningside answered with a 3-pointer by Rudeen to take a 66-64 lead with 4:11 left. Rudeen's 3-pointer triggered a run of nine straight points by the Mustangs that ended when Rudeen made a pair of free throws to make it a 72-64 game with 52 seconds left.
The Mustangs took their biggest lead of the game when Tyler Johnson made a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to cap the scoring.
Tanner Miller led the Mustangs with a game-high 20 points and Nikkel and Rudeen were right behind with 18 tallies. The 18 points by Nikkel was his season's scoring high and his fourth double figure scoring performance in the last five games. Point guard Trent Miller was next with nine points to go along with five assists while directing a Morningside offense that turned the ball over only six times. Miller raised his season's total to 171 assists to move within one of the Morningside school record of 172 assists in a season dealt by Dusty Wadlington during the 2000-01 campaign.
Nikkel led the Mustangs on the boards with seven rebounds, but Briar Cliff edged Morningside 39-36 in the team count. Nikkel has been the Mustangs' leading rebounder in six of their last eight games.
Morningside trailed 41-36 at the intermission following an opening 20 minutes where the Mustangs shot 39.4 percent from the field and were outrebounded by a 22-15 margin. The Mustangs had only one turnover in the first half, however, to stay within striking distance.
Briar Cliff went on a 10-2 run to start the game, but the Mustangs responded with a 10-2 run of their own to tie the score at 12-12. Morningside took its biggest lead of the first half when a Jared Kolbush 3-pointer put the Mustangs up by four, 32-28, with 3:55 left before Briar Cliff closed out the half with a 13-4 run to take a 41-36 lead into the break.
Rudeen, Tanner Miller, and Nikkel each had eight points in the first half, while Briar Cliff's Turner Fahey had 12 points behind a four-for-four shooting display from the 3-point arc.
Morningside will try to stretch its winning streak to four games when it travels to Yankton, S.D., on Wednesday, Feb. 13, for an 8 p.m. game against Mount Marty College.
Courtesy: Morningside Media Relations
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