No. 1-ranked Morningside advanced to the GPAC Tournament Championship Game with a lopsided win against Briar Cliff in the semifinals. Photo / Gene Knudsen
No. 1 ranked Morningside took Briar Cliff’s best shot in the first quarter and then gradually pulled away to a 97-68 lopsided victory in Saturday’s GPAC Women’s Basketball Post-Season Tournament Semifinal in the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center.
The Mustangs improved their record to 30-2 and will take an 11-game winning streak into a 7 p.m. home game against No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan in Tuesday’s GPAC Tournament title game.
The 12th-ranked Chargers went on a 17-4 scoring run to open a 19-11 advantage with 4:15 left in the first quarter, but the guest’s surge didn’t last long. Morningside outscored the Chargers 12-3 over the final 4:02 to take a 23-22 lead at the quarter break and then outpointed their opponent 22-10 in the second stanza to open a comfortable 45-32 lead by the intermission.
Morningside increased the margin to 20 points, 74-54, after three quarters and led by a game-high 33 points, 97-64, when Tristan Beaulieu made a 3-pointer with 1:24 left in the game.
The Mustangs defeated Briar Cliff for the 11th game in a row and improved their record against the Chargers to 30-2 during the Jamie Sale era.
Briar Cliff shot just 35.8 percent compared to a 46.8 percent showing by the Mustangs, but the biggest difference between the two teams came on the boards, where Morningside outrebounded the Chargers by a 59-27 margin. Jessica Tietz and Lauren Lehmkuhl each had career highs with 15 and 10 rebounds, respectively, while Audra Corbit and Brandan Tighe each had six rebounds to match their career bests.
Tietz dominated play inside and went for a double-double with game-high totals of 28 points and 15 rebounds. The 28 points was the second highest scoring total of Tietz’s career behind a 32-point performance in the Mustangs’ 80-74 win against Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 10. Tietz drilled 11 of 14 field goal attempts against the Chargers to increase her season’s accuracy mark to 64.5 percent, a figure that leads the nation.
Lehmkuhl also went for a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to finish just one point shy of her career scoring high.
Lexi Ackerman added 14 points and a game-high nine assists to just miss a double-double.
Lehmkuhl was one of several Mustang players who made significant contributions off the bench. Corbit and Tighe each had six rebounds to match their career highs and Tighe also had one of her top scoring efforts of the campaign with eight points. MaKayla Augustine had eight points for her second highest scoring total of the season, while steady senior Allison Bachman had five points and six rebounds.