Morningside bowed out of the GPAC Men’s Basketball Tournament with an 87-72 loss against Briar Cliff in the semifinals.
Briar Cliff added to its late season momentum when it defeated city rival Morningside 87-72 in Saturday’s GPAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal at Briar Cliff.
The Chargers, ranked 12th nationally in the NAIA Division II, rolled to their 12th consecutive victory and will take a 26-6 record into next Tuesday’s GPAC title game against No. 19 Northwestern, which drubbed No. 14 Dakota Wesleyan 84-65 in Saturday’s other semifinal. Dakota Wesleyan was the last team to defeat Briar Cliff with an 87-66 victory on Jan. 11 in Mitchell, S.D.
Morningside, which had advanced into the semifinal round after a 100-90 upset triumph against 17th-ranked Midland in the quarterfinals, bowed out with a 21-10 record.
Tyler Borchers came off the bench to lead the Mustangs in scoring with 17 points. Borchers drilled six of eight field goal attempts and was perfect in five attempts from the foul line. The Mustangs also received double figure scoring from seniors Ryan Tegtmeier and Bryce Koch with 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Brody Egger and Brody Van Ginkel finished just shy of twin digits with eight points each.
Jay Wolfe scored a game-high 19 points to lead a group of five Briar Cliff players in double figures. Bryan Forbes was right behind with 17 points, followed by Shane Graves with 15, Erich Erdman with 14 and Jackson Lamb with 12.
Briar Cliff, the NAIA Division II national leader with an average of 12.3 3-point field goals per game, made 16 of 38 3-point shots for 42.1 percent and shot 50.0 percent overall with 31 hoops in 62 attempts. Morningside made 24 of 52 field goal attempts for 46.2 percent and five of 16 3-point field goal attempts for 31.3 percent. The Mustangs were a perfect 19-for-19 from the free-throw line.
Tegtmeier grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Mustangs to a slight 29-28 advantage on the boards. Tegtmeier also led the Mustangs with four assists and topped all performers with three steals.
Briar Cliff led for almost all of the first half and took a 44-37 advantage into the intermission. The Chargers’ long distance shooters came out firing and struck for a trio of 3-point field goals in the first three minutes, two of them by Erdmann, when the hosts took an early 11-4 lead.
The Chargers took an eight-point lead when a Wolfe 3-pointer put them up 16-8 with 14:20 left in the first half. Morningside answered with a 9-0 scoring run that featured a 3-pointer by Tegtmeier and a pair of inside buckets by Koch and took its first lead of the game, 17-16, when Borchers made two free throws with 11:39 left in the half.
The score was tied at 31-31 when Lamb made a 3-pointer from the baseline with 5:30 left to put the hosts up 34-31 and trigger a 13-6 Briar Cliff scoring run to close out the half.
The Chargers took a 44-37 lead into the intermission and opened the second half with a 7-2 scoring run to open their first double figure lead of the game, 51-39, when Forbes struck from well beyond the 3-point arc with 16:35 left in the game.
The Mustangs rallied within six points, 51-45, on a basket by Borchers with 14:45 left, but Briar Cliff answered with a 7-0 run to push its lead to 13 points, 58-45, with 12:43 left and led by at least 11 points the rest of the way. Briar Cliff led by a game-high 19 points on three occasions, the last time at 84-65 on a 3-pointer by Wolfe with 2:53 left in the game.