Kyle Nikkel went over the 1000-point mark for his career to help lead No. 10 Morningside to a pivotal GPAC men’s basketball triumph over ninth-ranked Midland
Kyle Nikkel scored 21 points to go over the 1000-point mark for his career and Ryan Tegtmeier poured in a career-high 29 points to lead tenth-ranked Morningside College to an 87-82 victory over No. 9 Midland University in Saturday’s Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) men’s basketball showdown in Fremont, Neb.
The win was the eighth in a row for the streaking Mustangs, who climbed to 13-3 in the GPAC standings and moved past Midland (12-4) in the league standings. The Mustangs, 21-3 overall, are alone in second place in the GPAC standings, one-half game behind frontrunner Dakota Wesleyan University (14-3).
Nikkel gave the Mustangs a perfect eight-for-eight shooting performance from the field and raised his career scoring total to 1006 points for 25th place on Morningside’s all-time scoring list. Nikkel raised his season’s shooting percentage to a sizzling 71.6 percent with 116 hoops in 162 attempts.
Tegtmeier made 11 of 16 floor shots, including a torrid five-for-six display from the 3-point arc, to finish with a game and career-high of 29 points. He topped his previous scoring best of 21 points against Dakota Wesleyan last season. Aside from his 29 points, Tegtmeier also collected a career-high six rebounds to lead the Mustangs on the boards.
Steve O’Neill added 16 points to give the Mustangs three scorers in double figures.
Marcus Franklin tossed in a team-high 19 points for Midland and was joined in double figures by Alex Starkel and Jesse Jones, each with 15, and Trevor Bryant with 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Bryant’s nine rebounds led the Warriors to a 37-23 domination of the boards. The Mustangs offset their rebounding deficit with a 55.9 percent shooting performance from the field compared to a 43.5 percent shooting effort by the hosts. The Mustangs were especially impressive in the second half when they drilled 19 of 30 floor shots for a sizzling 63.3 percent.
Midland led for almost the entire first half, including an eight-point 29-21 advantage with seven minutes left before the Mustangs battled back to knot the score at 41-41 at the intermission.
The score was tied for the 11th time at 78-78 with 2:25 left before Tegtmeier put the Mustangs ahead to stay, 81-78, with a conventional three-point play with 1:24 left in the game.
Morningside held an 81-79 advantage at the one-minute mark before it put the Warriors away with a six-point run that featured a basket by Nikkel along with a basket and pair of free throws by O’Neill.
The Mustangs, who have won 14 of their last 15 games, will face the only team to beat them during that stretch when they host Dordt College to an 8 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday, Feb. 11. The Defenders defeated Morningside 86-84 on Jan. 6 in Sioux Center, Iowa.