Mustangs bow out in second round
Thirteenth-ranked Morningside shot a chilly 29.3 percent from the field when it bowed out of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship with an 84-71 second round loss against No. 4 Saint Xavier on Friday in Sioux City.
The Mustangs finished the season with a record of 22-12.
Seniors Rachelle Housh and Madison Braun shared Mustang scoring honors with 11 points each and Jordyn Moser joined them in double figures with 10 points. Sierra Mitchell was next with nine points, followed by Sydney Hupp with eight, Jenna Bork with seven, Mady Maly with six, Faith Meyer with five, and Lauren Lehmkuhl and Grace Meyer, each with two.
Housh matched her season’s scoring high with her 11 points, while Lehmkuhl matched her season’s best with a team-high 12 rebounds to lead the Mustangs to a slight 48-47 rebounding edge. Hupp and Braun each had seven rebounds and Housh had six.
Kara Krolicki, the 2017 NAIA II National Player of the Year, led the Cougars with 24 points. She was joined in double figures by Brittany Collins with 20 points, Chanel Fanter with 15 and Maddie Welter with 12. Collins added a game-high 18 rebounds to finish with a double double.
Krolicki made a pair of 3-point field goals to spark Saint Xavier to an 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the game before Braun struck from 3-point range to get the Mustangs on the scoreboard with 8:12 left in the first quarter.
Braun’s 3-pointer triggered an 11-6 Mustang scoring run that saw them close within three points, 14-11, on a baseline drive by Grace Meyer with 5:19 left in the quarter.
Krolicki struck for two more 3-pointers and finished with 14 points in the opening 10 minutes to help stake Saint Xavier a 27-18 lead at the quarter break.
The Mustangs fell behind by 17 points, 37-20, when the Cougars’ Tomei Ball struck from 3-point range with 5:33 left in the half before the Mustangs went on an 11-4 scoring run to climb within 43-31 at the intermission.
Krolicki had 18 points at the break and was four-for-four from the 3-point arc to help the Cougars go nine-for-18 on 3-point attempts, while the Mustangs made only 11 of 40 field goal attempts for a chilly 27.5 percent in the first half.
The Cougars put a damper in the Mustangs’ comeback hopes when they opened the second half with a 12-0 scoring run to push their lead to 24 points, 55-31, when Welter capped the run with a 3-pointer with 7:42 left in the third quarter. Krolicki played a prominent role in the run with a drive to the basket, a 3-pointer and an assist on a fast break layup by Chanel Fanter.
Saint Xavier led 65-46 after three quarters before the Mustangs staged a fourth quarter rally and closed within single digits when a conventional 3-point play by Moser made it a 71-63 game with 4:23 left to play.