Morningside shot 38.1 percent from the field in an 80-72 loss against College of the Ozarks in the second round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Seventh-ranked College of the Ozarks turned the tables on No. 11 Morningside when the Bobcats bounced the Mustangs from the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship with an 80-72 victory in Friday’s second round game at Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena.
The Bobcats, who were blown out 83-63 by Morningside in a regular season contest on Dec. 3 in Sioux City, won their 17th game in a row and will take a 28-4 record into Saturday’s quarterfinals against No. 3 Saint Xavier.
Morningside, which shot just 38.1 percent for the game, including a dismal four-for-24 performance for 16.7 percent from the 3-point arc, bowed out with a 24-9 record.
The Mustangs dominated the boards with a 50-34 rebounding advantage in their regular season win against the Bobcats. Ozarks controlled the boards by a 47-33 rebounding margin in the rematch and held the Mustangs to only 14 field goals in 45 attempts for 31.1 percent after the first quarter.
Senior guard Taylor Bahensky and freshman forward Sydney Hupp did their best to try to pull out a victory for the Mustangs. Bahensky led all scorers with a season’s high 26 points and Hupp drilled seven of eight floor shots en route to a season’s high 19 points.
Lexi Ackerman joined them in double figures with 11 points, but no other Mustang had more than five tallies.
Kelsie Cleeton paced the Bobcats with a double double of 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with a game-high five assists. Madison Brethower and Cassidy Johnson joined her in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Hannah Wisdom and Shelby Roberts just missed twin figures with nine points each, followed by Lakin Simmerman with eight.
Lauren Lehmkuhl led Morningside with 10 rebounds and the Mustangs’ Madison Braun dealt five assists to match Cleeton for game honors and topped all performers with six steals.
Morningside’s shooters came out hot when they made 10 of 18 field goal attempts for 55.6 percent on their way to a 25-18 lead after one quarter, but their shooting fortunes reversed in the second quarter when they made only three of 14 shots for 21.4 percent and went into the intermission down 39-36.
Bahensky scored nine straight Morningside points during one stretch of the opening quarter and made a basket with 5:31 left in the period to give the Mustangs their first of four nine-point leads in the first half at 15-6.
Morningside’s last nine-point lead of the first half came with eight minutes left in the second quarter when a pair of Hupp free throws put the Mustangs up 29-20.
The Mustangs led by five points, 36-31, with less than two minutes left in the half before back-to-back 3-point field goals by Roberts and Cleeton sparked the Bobcats during an 8-0 run to end the half and send them into the intermission with a 39-36 advantage.
Morningside opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Bahensky to knot the score at 39-39. Bahensky made two free throws on the Mustangs’ next possession to give them a 41-39 lead with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
Ozarks regained the lead at 44-43 with 7:15 left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Johnson. The Bobcats eventually increased their lead to a game-high 10 points, 59-49, on a fastbreak basket by Johnson with 1:41 left in the quarter before taking a 59-51 advantage into the final period.
Brethower scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to put the Bobcats back up by 10 points at 61-51 before the Mustangs went on a 15-4 scoring run to regain the lead at 66-65 when Bahensky made a free throw with 5:21 left to play.
The Bobcats regained the lead at 67-66 when Madison Wells made a pair of free throws with 5:06 left.
The Mustangs tied the score for the last time when a basket by Hupp knotted the score at 70-70 with 2:44 left.
College of the Ozarks took the lead for good at 72-70 on a basket by Cleeton with 2:04 left in the game and the Bobcats wrapped up the victory at the free-throw line, where they went eight-for-eight during the last 23 seconds.