Morningside’s men’s basketball team stretched its winning streak to 14 games with an 89-77 victory against city rival Briar Cliff in the GPAC Post-Season Tournament Semifinals. Photo / Gene Knudsen
Morningside’s men’s basketball team led for almost the entire game and advanced to Tuesday’s championship game of the GPAC Post-Season Tournament with a convincing 89-77 triumph over city rival Briar Cliff in Saturday’s semifinal round game in the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center.
The fifth-ranked Mustangs, now 27-3 and riding a 14-game winning streak, will host 14th-ranked Midland, 25-7, in Tuesday’s GPAC Championship Game at 8 p.m. The Warriors punched their ticket for Tuesday’s final with an 81-74 win on the road at No. 3 Dakota Wesleyan, which went 17-3 in the GPAC during the regular season to share the league title with Morningside.
The Mustangs’ 27 victories is their third highest total in school history and just two wins off the pace of a school-record 29-4 season in 2008-09.
Briar Cliff held early leads of 3-0 and 6-2, but after that it was all Morningside. The Mustangs went ahead to stay on a 3-point field goal by Ryan Tegtmeier to go up 12-9 with 16:40 left in the first half. Morningside held a 17-point lead, 48-31, at the intermission and maintained a double digit lead for almost the entire second half. The high water mark in Briar Cliff’s attempt for a comeback came when the Chargers closed within eight points, 66-58, with 8:02 left in the game.
Morningside shot 57.7 percent for the contest and converted 24 of 26 free throw attempts in comparison to a 14-for-24 effort from the foul line by the Chargers.
Just like in the Mustangs’ 95-87 quarterfinal round win against Hastings, all three starting Morningside guards scored 20 points or more. Tanner Miller led the way with a game and career-high 26 points after his previous high of 23 points had come against Hastings in the GPAC Quarterfinals. Miller drilled eight of 12 field goal attempts and was a perfect eight-for-eight from the foul line. Steve O’Neill was the Mustangs’ most frequent visitor to the free-throw line, where he made 13 of 14 attempts en route to 23 points. Ryan Tegtmeier added 20 points behind an eight-for-13 shooting performance from the floor.
Shane Graves paced Briar Cliff with 20 points and was joined in double figures by Austin Lefler with 18 and Bryan Forbes with 13. Lefler did all of his scoring from the 3-point arc, where he bombed in six of 12 attempts.
Mustang reserve center Bryce Koch grabbed five rebounds to share game honors with Lefler and lead the hosts to a 32-23 advantage on the boards.
O’Neill and Miller each dealt four assists to share game honors with Forbes.