MITCHELL, S.D. – Morningside College arrived in south-central South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, needing a win over Dakota Wesleyan University to guarantee the program’s reaching double figures for Great Plains Athletic Conference regular-season championships.
At the end of a hard-fought 40 minutes inside The World’s Famous Corn Palace, head coach Jamie Sale‘s team did just that. The Mustangs won for the 14th in a row and improved to 20-2 overall and 18-1 in the GPAC behind a 73-68 triumph.
A fast start in a historically tough place for opposing teams to gain success led the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ No. 9-ranked team. Mside led 28-11 at the end of the first 10 minutes mainly due to a 15-0 run that closed the frame. They wouldn’t relinquish their advantage despite the host Tigers staying close down to the final moments with a second-half surge.
The Maroon was lethal in the first quarter shooting six for eight from three-point range and 10 for 18 from the field. That theme continued in the second quarter, as they finished the half shooting nine for 12 from outside the arc. Senior guard Sierra Mitchell (SR/Pleasant Hill, Iowa) (Pleasant Hill, Iowa), the reigning NAIA and GPAC Player of the Week, showed her wares over the first half with 15 points that occurred by going five for six from three-point range.
DWU managed to clamp down defensively in the second half and keep things interesting. Sale’s squad added to that with rough shooting, going just 11-of-32 from the field, as they were outscored 41-30. However, Morningside righted the ship as the hosts closed to within 69-65 with 3:04 remaining. Senior guard Faith Meyer (SR/Pomeroy, Iowa) (Pomeroy, Iowa) hit a pair of clutch free throws, and sophomore guard McKenna Sims (SO/South Sioux City, Neb.) (South Sioux City, Neb.) connected on a lay-up, while the hosts were held to just one three-point bucket in the stretch.
Morningside’s victory was its first in the Corn Palace since January 13, 2016 – something which Sale savored post-game along with the outright conference crown.
“It’s nice to win the GPAC, but we want to do more than that,” he stated. “To do that, we need to stay sharp. I’m confident with this team. They work really hard.”
Mside was led in scoring by Mitchell, who finished with 17 points, four assists, two rebounds, and two steals. Sims poured in 13 on six for eight from the field. Junior forward Taylor Rodenburgh (JR/Hawarden, Iowa) (Hawarden, Iowa) came off the bench to score 12 points and pull down six rebounds. The Mustangs were also able to capitalize on 15 DWU turnovers, tallying 22 points off of them.
Morningside heads back home to the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center’s Allee Gymnasium for a date with the Doane University Tigers Saturday, February 6. Game time is 2 p.m.