Steve O’Neill made a jump shot with three seconds left to lift 15th-ranked Morningside to an 87-85 victory against No. 6 Dordt in Tuesday’s GPAC Men’s Basketball Post-Season Tournament Championship Game.
Steve O’Neill made a jump shot with three seconds left to lift 15th-ranked Morningside to an 87-85 victory against No. 6 Dordt in Tuesday’s GPAC Men’s Basketball Post-Season Tournament Championship Game in Sioux Center, Iowa.
The Mustangs won their 10th game in a row to improve their record to 25-8. The NAIA Division II National Tournament bound Mustangs defeated Dordt for the third time this season to drop the Defenders’ record to 28-5.
Morningside trailed by 13 points, 52-39, with 2:42 left in the first half, was down 53-48 at the intermission, and was behind for most of the second half. Dordt led 80-75 with 5:53 left in the game before Morningside outscored the Defenders 12-5 down the stretch.
O’Neill made a jump shot to tie the score at 80-80 with 4:44 left and when Danny Rudeen made a free throw to put the Mustangs on top 81-80 with 3:47 left the Mustangs led for the first time since the 7:30 mark of the opening half. The Mustangs stretched their lead to 83-80 on a layup by Kyle Nikkel with 2:54 left before Dordt tied the score at 85-85 when Bryan Summer made a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left. That set the stage for O’Neill’s game winning shot to lift the Mustangs to their second straight victory on a last second shot.
The Mustangs defeated Dakota Wesleyan 108-106 in overtime in the GPAC Semifinals on a tip-in at the buzzer by Andrew Christen.
Nikkel led the Mustangs with 20 points behind an eight-for-10 shooting performance from the field. Tanner Miller was right behind with 19 tallies, followed by O’Neill with 15 and Danny Rudeen with 11. Ryan Tegtmeier scored eight points in the first half before an injury sidelined him for the duration of the game. Bryce Koch also finished with eight points to lead the Mustangs’ reserves.
Rudeen, who climbed into second place on Morningside’s all-time scoring list with 1,955 career points, missed his first free throw attempt of the game to finish a streak where he made a school-record 38 consecutive free throw attempts.
Dordt’s Kyle Lindbergh had a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead all performers in both categories. He was joined in double figures by Dalton Franken with 18, Tyler Wolterstorff with 17, and Nathan Rindels with 16.
Lindbergh’s 12 rebounds paced the Defenders to a slight 34-32 cushion on the boards. Nikkel and O’Neill shared Morningside honors with seven caroms each.
O’Neill also dealt five assists to share game honors with Lindbergh and Rindels.
Morningside shot 57.9 percent from the field, including a sizzling 65.2 percent in the second half. Dordt hit on 53.1 percent of its shots in the first half, but faded to a chilly 36.7 percent after the intermission to finish the game at 45.2 percent.