No. 1-ranked Morningside moved on in the GPAC Women’s Basketball Post-Season Tournament with a quarterfinal round victory against College of Saint Mary.
No. 1-ranked Morningside defeated College of Saint Mary 82-72 in Wednesday’s GPAC Post-Season Tournament Quarterfinals in a plot that followed a similar script to the teams’ two regular season meetings, which the Mustangs won 81-75 and 84-71.
The teams played to a 60-60 standoff through three quarters in this season’s first meeting and the Mustangs took a 60-59 lead into the fourth quarter of the regular season rematch. Morningside led by one point again in the GPAC Quarterfinals when it took a 59-58 lead into the final 10 minutes before the hosts took control.
Morningside opened the fourth quarter with a layup by Jordyn Wollenburg and a 3-point field goal by Taylor Bahensky to stretch its lead to 64-58 with 8:47 in the game. The Mustangs eventually increased their lead to a game-high 12 points when a Jessica Tietz free throw put them up 78-66 with 35 seconds left.
Morningside won its 10th game in a row to improve its record to 29-2 heading into this Saturday’s GPAC Semifinals, where it will host city rival Briar Cliff in a 3 p.m. matinee. College of Saint Mary closed the books on a 16-14 campaign and will miss the NAIA Division II National Tournament for the first time in five years.
The Mustangs, who are already assured of a 14th consecutive national tournament appearance after winning the GPAC’s regular season championship, experienced some rough moments in te early going when they fell behind 18-10 and eventually trailed 18-13 after a first quarter where they shot only 31.6 percent from the field.
Morningside outscored the Flames 23-16 in the second quarter to surge in front 36-34 at the intermission. The Mustangs appeared on the verge of breaking the game open when they opened an eight point lead, 48-40, with 6:15 left in the third quarter before the Flames took off on an 18-11 scoring run to close within 59-58 by the end of the period.
Madison Braun led the Mustangs with 20 points for the second highest scoring total of her career. Braun made five of 11 3-point field goal attempts, dealt four assists, and led the Mustangs with three steals.
Lexi Ackerman was right behind with 17 points and a game-high five assists. Taylor Bahensky and Jessica Tietz also scored in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively, and Jordyn Wollenburg just missed with nine tallies. The Mustangs completed their scoring summary with six points from Lauren Lehmkuhl and five from Allison Bachman.
Tietz, Wollenburg, and Lehmkuhl each had seven rebounds to lead the Mustangs to a 37-32 advantage on the boards.
Justice Ross scored a game-high 21 points for College of Saint Mary. The Mustangs held two-time All-American Deaundra Young, the nation’s second leading scorer, to five points below her scoring norm with 18 points. Young, the nation’s leading rebounder, matched her season’s average with 13 caroms to finish with her 27th double-double in 29 outings. Young also had a team-high five assists.