YANKTON, S.D. – Midland University men’s basketball looked dead to rights in the first half on Saturday afternoon, but nearly staged an improbable second-half comeback versus a stout, ranked opponent.
The Warriors (7-10, 3-7 GPAC) trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half before a furious second-half comeback left them just short of a road upset as the No. 23 Mount Marty Lancers (15-4, 7-3 GPAC) held on for a 96-89 win.
“We were really proud of the way our guys battled on the road versus a nationally ranked opponent,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake. “We dug ourselves a huge hole but showed great toughness in the second half cutting the lead to one.”
Freshman Kylan Smallwood led the Warriors on their comeback trail as he totaled a new career high with 26 points, 24 of which came in the second half. Off the bench, Smallwood played 30 minutes and connected on eight of his 10 field goal attempts while adding five rebounds to the cause.
Despite a career day, Smallwood’s efforts weren’t enough as the Warriors ran out of steam down the stretch after erasing an 18-point halftime deficit.
Mount Marty used a 13-2 run to extend its lead to 37-21 midway through the first half, and the Lancers kept their fast pace going and lead by as many as 21 before leading by 18 at the break. The Lancers forced six Midland turnovers in the first 20 minutes and shot 52.6 percent from the floor (20-for-38) compared to just 30.3 percent shooting (10-for-33) from the Warriors.
The slow start dug the Warriors a big hole, but they flipped the script in the second half and come out firing on all cylinders offensively.
After going 10-for-33 in the first half, the Warriors doubled their production and made 20 of their 33 field goal attempts (60.6 percent) in the final 20 minutes. Midland never went on a huge scoring run, but slowly chipped away at the lead by making the most of each of its trips down the floor.
At one point, the Warriors scored on 13 consecutive offensive possessions, either by field goals or free throws, and cut the Lancer lead from 16 to just one point with just over six minutes to play. Ten straight points during that run came from Smallwood and his ability to get to the free throw line and finish plays.
“Kylan was huge all game and really showed that he is a difference maker at both ends of the court,” Drake said.
Momentum was fully on the Warriors’ side in the second half, but the Lancers did just enough to keep the lead from wire-to-wire in the period. After Midland cut the deficit to one, the Lancers got stops on defense and converted on six consecutive free throw attempts to widen the margin back to seven points.
After that dry spell, the Warriors couldn’t produce another run and came up short as Mount Marty narrowly held them off for a 96-89 win.
Colby Johnson led the balanced Lancer offense with 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field. He also added four rebounds and three assists to the cause. Jordan Johnson (20), Jalen Billings (16), Chris King (10), and Saba Gvedashvil (10) also scored in double figures.
Smallwood got help from junior Laurence Merritt who played all 40 minutes on Saturday and scored 22 points thanks in part to five made three pointers. Merritt hadn’t made five or more three pointers since the College of the Ozarks game on Dec. 30, but found his stroke on Saturday. He also added five assists.
Sophomore Emanuel Bryson didn’t play his most efficient game but still totaled 13 points while freshman Jake Rueschhoff also finished in double figures with 11 points.
Even without the result, the Warriors have a lot to be proud of after battling back as hard as they did against a really good conference foe. As a group, their mental toughness has grown exponentially in the last month or so as they continue to show their ability to stay competitive versus tough teams.
“We are continuing to grow and our group continues to show great competitive spirit,” Drake said. “We look forward to getting back to work on Monday and continuing to get better together.”
Midland gets back on the court this Wednesday, Jan. 15, with a home matchup with the Hastings College Broncos at 8:00 p.m. In the season’s first meeting on Nov. 27, Midland outlasted the Broncos 85-74 in Hastings to earn the team its first conference win of 2019-20.
YANKTON, S.D. – Midland University’s women’s basketball team suffered a tough 87-85 overtime defeat at the hands of Mount Marty College on Saturday afternoon after a last-second attempt by the Warriors would not beat the final buzzer. Midland falls to 7-12 overall with a 3-8 record in Great Plains Athletic Conference action while Mount Marty improves to 10-7, 4-7 GPAC.
The Warriors shot 39.7 percent (29-of-73) from the field compared to 45.6 percent (31-of-68) for the Lancers. Mount Marty held a slight 39.4-37.5 percent edge from beyond the arc. The Warriors outrebounded the Lancers 48-35 with a sizeable 15-7 advantage in offensive boards.
Midland saw four players reaching double-figures with senior Amanda Hansen’s 21 points leading the charge. Junior Katy Gathje (16), Lexis Haase (12), and Sam Shepard (11) also reached double-digits. Haase performed well on all cylinders after leading the team with nine rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Senior Maddie Meadows followed with eight rebounds and three assists.
The Lancers jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter before a three by Meadows had Midland trailing 8-7 with 6:58 to go. Mount Marty responded with an 11-point run to go up 19-7 with five minutes to go. Defense would buckle down over the next three minutes of play before Sam Shepard brought the score to 19-12 with a three and a jumper. Emma Shepard closed out scoring in the quarter with a three as the Warriors trailed 23-15 heading into the second quarter.
A three by Sam Shepard and jumper by Prusa pulled the Warriors within striking distance as they trailed 23-20 early in the second quarter. The teams would trade points through the quarter before a three by Emma Shepard gave Midland their first lead of the afternoon as the team went up 28-27 with 3:59 on the clock. The Warriors rolled with the momentum and scored seven-straight to go up 35-27 with just over a minute remaining. The Lancers would hit a three to wrap up the quarter as Midland held a 35-30 lead going into intermission. The Warriors outscored the Lancers 20-7 in the quarter.
Gathje would command the early goings of the third quarter after registering all eight of Midland’s opening points to see a 43-36 lead with 7:38 to go. Haase and Emma Shepard would go back-to-back with three-pointers the give the Warriors their largest lead of the contest at 49-39. The Lancers chipped away at the lead, but Midland would hold on for a 53-47 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Sam Shepard would take advantage of an offensive rebound after sinking a three to bring the score to 60-52 with 6:33 to go. Freshman Lexi Kraft would come off the bench to score five-straight to bring the Midland lead to 65-52 with just over five minutes remaining. The Lancers found their groove from beyond the arc to cut the lead to 66-63 with 2:31 on the clock. Mount Marty pulled within one before a jumper and extra point from Hansen had Midland up 72-68 with under a minute to go. Late missed free-throws plagued Midland as the Lancers hit a late three to knot the score at 74-74 and send things into overtime.
Overtime featured back-and-forth action as neither team would lead by more than one point through the opening two minutes. Mount Marty sunk a three and hit two from the charity stripe to go up 83-79 with 1:16 remaining. Four more free throws by the Lancers added to the lead, but Hansen would have a senior moment and hit two three points as Midland trailed 87-85 with :10 on the clock. The Warriors looked to have an opening as the Lancers would miss two free throws with :02 on the clock. Midland would hustle down the court and send a long ball into the hoop in what looked to be a winning shot, but the shot didn’t get off prior to the buzzer as the Lancers escaped with an 87-85 victory.
The Warriors (7-12, 3-8 GPAC) return home for a tough conference matchup against No. 4 Hastings College on Wednesday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m.