SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Six players in double figures, just six turnovers surrendered, 22 assists on 39 made field goals … all of these things translated into one thing for Morningside College.
It was good to be home. Coming off a regular season ending Great Plains Athletic Conference road trip that saw an intense battle at Doane Feb. 13 and a loss at Jamestown Feb. 16, head coach Jim Sykes’ squad, remaining second on the current National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Division II ranking, used a 49-31 second half outburst to knock off a pesky Concordia University club 97-74 Wednesday, Feb. 20.
“We knew we’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” Sykes said. “Concordia came out and was hitting very well from the perimeter in the first half, but we managed to get the pace to our liking (in the second half).
“(At halftime), we talked about not getting into a situation of trading baskets (with Concordia),” he added. “With the balance we were getting scoring-wise and the fact that some of their shots started to fall off (in the second half), we managed to extend the lead.”
After an at times helter-skelter first 20 minutes where it took just south of 50 for the Maroon to lead at halftime (48-44), the home crowd inside Allee Gymnasium at the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center got a second half to its liking. The advantage grew at each turn, as the Bulldogs, after going nine of 17 from outside the arc in the first half, connected on only two of 13 three-point attempts, while Morningside sizzled from the field (66.7 percent).
Junior forward/center Tyler Borchers (JR/Le Mars, IA ) (LeMars, Iowa), jumping to No. 12 all-time in scoring (1,329 points), added a 16th straight double-figure scoring effort to his amazing with 20 points to go with six boards, and junior forward Matt Hahn (JR/Fremont, NE ) (Fremont, Neb.) and senior guard Brody Egger (SR/Urbandale, IA) (Urbandale, Iowa) tallied 20 apiece, too, with Egger becoming the sixth player in school history to reach 1,600 points. Three more Mside standouts hit the double-figure point cadre, as sophomore center Trey Brown (SO/Gretna, NE ) (Gretna, Neb.) (12 points), sophomore guard Zach Imig (SO/Gretna, NE ) (Gretna, Neb.) (11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and two steals) and junior guard Alex Borchers (JR/South Sioux City, NE ) (South Sioux City, Neb.) (10 points) were added to the list.
Morningside sets its sights on the semifinal round of the conference tournament Saturday, Feb. 23. Tip-off is 3 p.m. as No. 18-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University is the opponent.
MITCHELL, S.D. – For better than 30 minutes, defending National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Division II champion and fourth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University’s advancement in the 2019 Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament was in doubt.
A gritty and determined bunch of Morningside College Mustangs, undaunted by a recent slump and ranked No. 19 on the final regular-season poll, stepped forward and gave the home-standing Tigers all they could handle at the World’s Only Corn Palace Wednesday, Feb. 20. Head coach Jamie Sale’s squad, fueled by a 12-2 run to begin the second half, held a 46-38 lead with 4:56 to go in the third period. Despite a furious rally by DWU, the game remained tied 59-59 after three frames.
The fourth 10-minute block turned out to be the difference. Back-to-back three-pointers sparked an 8-0 stretch to start the final period and, even with the Maroon rallying to within two at one point, the visitors, dipping to 19-12, couldn’t get the lead back, as Dakota Wesleyan hit eight straight free throw attempts in the final 1:12 to ice an 88-75 decision.
Morningside, who now prepares for a yet to be determined opponent at the 2019 NAIA Championships as the host team, was led by the talented trio of sophomore guard Sierra Mitchell (SO/Pleasant Hill, IA) (Pleasant Hill, Iowa), junior forward/center Sydney Hupp (JR/O’Neill, NE) (O’Neill, Neb.) and sophomore forward Kailey Burke (SO/Hinton, IA) (Hinton, Iowa). Mitchell tossed in 15 points, surpassing the 500-point mark for the season, while Burke came off the bench to total 13 which included three treys, and Hupp finished three rebounds shy of a double-double (11 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots) as part of an impressive night.