Morningside’s hopes for an undefeated women’s basketball season ended in the GPAC Tournament Championship Game. Photo / Gene Knudsen
Concordia spoiled Morningside’s hopes for an undefeated women’s basketball season when the third-ranked Bulldogs defeated the No. 1-ranked Mustangs 80-72 in the GPAC Tournament Championship Game on Tuesday in the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center.
The Mustangs, who defeated Concordia in the teams’ two prior meetings en route to the GPAC regular season title, will take a 32-1 record into next week’s NAIA Division II National Tournament to be held at Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena. Concordia will take a 31-2 mark into the national tourney.
Aside from losing their chances at an unbeaten season, Tuesday’s loss also ended the Mustangs’ school-record 39-game home court winning streak. The Mustangs had not lost at home since a 77-68 setback against Mount Marty on Jan. 9, 2013.
Concordia shot 51.8 percent from the field and did much of its damage from the 3-point arc, where it bombed in 11 of 22 attempts for 50.0 percent. The Bulldogs’ hot shooting helped them overcome a wide disparity in the rebounding department, where the Mustangs pounded them by a 45-28 margin.
Morningside shot 44.3 percent for the game, but was just four of 17 for 23.5 percent from the 3-point arc.
Aside from a one-minute stretch late in the first half, the Bulldogs led for the entire game. Concordia took a 38-35 lead into the intermission and opened its largest advantage of the game with an 11-point cushion, 60-49, with 10:50 left to play.
Morningside then made its best run of the night when it outscored the Bulldogs 11-2 to close within 62-60 on a layup by Lexi Ackerman with 7:15 remaining.
Midland answered with a 17-9 scoring run of its own to push its lead back to 10 points, 79-69, with 47 seconds left to all but end the Mustangs’ comeback hopes.
Mary Janovich was Concordia’s top 3-point sharpshooter with four treys in six attempts to finish with a game-high 17 points. She was joined in double figures by Bailey Morris with 15 points and Tracy Peitz and Becky Mueller, each with 11.
Morris, the reigning GPAC Player of the Year, also dealt a game-high eight assists.
Taylor Bahensky led Morningside with 15 points and was joined in double figures by Ashlynn Muhl with 13 and Lexi Ackerman with 11. Mustang reserves Jessica Tietz and Allison Bachman just missed twin digits with nine and eight points, respectively.
Aside from her 13 points, Muhl dominated the boards with a game and season’s high 17 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season. Tietz added seven rebounds to finish two off her season’s high.
Ackerman led the Mustangs with four assists, while Bahensky had four steals to share game honors with Peitz.