OMAHA, Neb. – Good teams will always find a way to win when the ball isn’t bouncing the right way. That’s what Midland University’s women’s basketball team had to do on Wednesday night.
The (RV) Warriors (13-9, 8-8 GPAC) survived a nail-biter against the College of Saint Mary Flames (2-20, 1-14 GPAC) and escaped with a 72-69 victory.
Midland shot a measly 33.3 percent (20-60) from the field including a dreadful 11.1 percent (3-27) from three-point range. The Flames didn’t shoot the lights out either as they finished the game shooting 40 percent (24-60) from the field and 26.7 percent (4-15) from deep.
While the Warriors weren’t clicking on offense, they took advantage of opportunities as they came. Midland forced 16 turnovers from the Flames and converted them into 20 points. The Warriors also netted 15 second-chance points after grabbing 14 offensive rebounds in the game.
Conversely, the Warriors turned the ball over just eight times and allowed only four second-chance points. Midland outrebounded the Flames 39-38, including a 14-11 offensive rebound advantage.
Most importantly, the Warriors converted on 29 out of 38 free throw attempts (76.3 percent) as a result of 27 fouls from the Flames. Each made free throw ultimately mattered as the game came down to the final possessions.
Freshman Lexis Haase came off the bench and scored a career-high 25 points for the Warriors on 8-20 shooting from the field. Haase converted eight of Midland’s 20 total field goals while not on her A-game, as she was just 2-10 from three-point range.
The freshman also added six rebounds, one assist, and one steal to her stat line.
Junior Amanda Hansen was the only other Warriors in double figures as she finished with 12 points. Hansen was just 1-8 from the field but was 10-14 from the free throw line.
Freshman Sam Shepard and sophomore Katy Gathje came off the bench to score nine and seven points, respectively, and helped Haase as the Midland bench outscored the College of Saint Mary reserves 44-15.
The Flames had four players finish in double-figures, led by Alyssa Laudato’s 16 points. Dani Carlson was a rebound shy of a double-double as she finished with 15 points and nine boards.
Each team’s largest lead was by just six points in 40 minutes of play. The game saw 13 ties and nine lead changes as neither offense could managed to put together a scoring run. The fourth quarter began with the score tied at 59-59.
Midland took a two-point lead with 2:32 remaining after a pair of free throws from Haase. Over a minute went by before Carlson converted one of her two attempts to pull the Flames within one.
With just 23 seconds remaining, Laudato was whistled for an intentional foul on junior Maddie Meadows. Meadows made both of her attempts and Midland retained possession. The Flames fouled again and Hansen also converted both attempts to put Midland up 72-67.
Tyler Sumpter’s basket beat the buzzer but the Flames came up short as Midland got out of Omaha with a hard-fought three-point victory.
The Flames, even in a close loss, demonstrated the very best of what makes the GPAC so difficult. The Warriors have spent time in the top 25 this season, while the Flames have won just one conference game. On paper, it’s not the most intriguing matchup, but it still came down to the wire, proving that no game is easy in the NAIA’s premier basketball conference.
The Warriors will hit the road again this weekend as they travel north to Sioux City, Iowa on Saturday for a date with the Briar Cliff Chargers (12-11, 6-9 GPAC). Briar Cliff defeated Midland 74-68 back on January 2 in Fremont. Tipoff for the rematch on January 26 is set for 2:00 p.m. inside the Newman Flanagan Center.