Mustang men advance
Fifth-ranked Morningside advanced to Friday’s second round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship with an 87-69 victory against unranked Trinity International in Thursday’s opening round action at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Mustangs will take a 27-6 record into a matchup against No. 12 Warner Pacific (24-9) in a game slated for a 5:45 p.m. Friday start. Morningside, this season’s Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) regular season and post-season tournament champion, has won 10 of its last 11 games and is riding a season’s high eight-game winning streak.
Trinity International, which finished third in the 14-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, finished the season at 21-11.
Freshmen Zach Imig and Trey Brown, who as prep teammates led Gretna High School to back-to-back Nebraska Class B state championships, led the Mustangs with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Imig also dealt a game-high six assists, while Brown provided his team-high 13th double figure scoring performance off the bench this season. Brown drilled eight of nine field goal attempts to give him 53 hoops in 76 attempts for a sizzling 69.7 percent over the last 12 games.
Brown did most of his scoring in the first half when he led the Mustangs with 12 points at the break when starting center Tyler Borchers, a first-team All-GPAC performer, played less than three minutes after he picked up two quick fouls.
Borchers was unstoppable in the second half when he scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for his team-high 10th double double of the season.
Matthew Hahn and Ben Hoskins just missed double figures with nine points, each, followed by Alex Borchers with eight and Brody Egger with six.
Tyler Borchers’ 11 rebounds helped the Mustangs dominate the boards by a 52-29 advantage.
The Mustangs overcame a sluggish start against Trinity International before kicking things into high gear.
Morningside trailed for most of the first half and found itself down by as many as seven points on two occasions before it assumed control during the final five minutes. The Mustangs closed out the first half with a 16-3 scoring run over the final 5:25 of the half to take a 45-36 lead into the intermission.
Mustangs went ahead 34-33 when Hoskins drilled a 3-pointer from the baseline to take the lead for the first time since they held a 6-5 advantage in the opening three minutes. The Mustangs pushed their lead to nine points, 43-34, on a layup by Brown off an assist from Imig with 1:18 left before the intermission.
The Mustangs started the second half with an 8-0 scoring run and took the first double figure advantage of the game when Tyler Borchers made a free throw at the 19:24 mark of the second half to put the Mustangs up 46-36. Morningside led by 17 points, 53-36, when the run ended on a layup by Imig with 17:00 left in the game.
The Mustangs pushed their lead to 20 points when a Tyler Borchers tip-in made it 78-58 with 4:22 left and they eventually increased their lead to a game-high 22 points, 80-58, on a pair of free throws by Egger with 3:51 left.