No. 1-ranked Morningside secured sole possession of the GPAC women’s basketball championship with a win against No. 3 Concordia.
No. 1-ranked Morningside secured sole possession of the GPAC women’s basketball championship with a 77-76 victory against No. 3 Concordia in Saturday’s regular season finale in Sioux City.
The Mustangs finished the regular season unbeaten at 30-0, including a 20-0 mark in the GPAC. League runner-up Concordia finished the regular season at 28-2 overall and 18-2 in the GPAC. Both of the Bulldogs losses came at the hands of Morningside.
Morningside earned an automatic berth in the upcoming NAIA Division II National Tournament as the GPAC regular season champion.
The Mustangs, eight-time GPAC champions during the Jamie Sale coaching era, extended their school-record home court winning streak to 37 games and posted their 30th consecutive regular season GPAC triumph.
Morningside finished the regular season undefeated for the second time in school history. The Mustangs also went undefeated in 2008-09 when they eventually won the NAIA Division II National Championship with a spotless 38-0 record.
Concordia never led in Saturday’s showdown, but the Bulldogs had a chance to win it at the end when their senior standout Bailey Morris, a first-team NAIA II All-American and the reigning GPAC Player of the Year, misfired on a drive to the basket as time expired.
The Bulldogs, who trailed by a 10-point margin (51-41) three minutes into the second half, eventually caught the Mustangs at 74-74 with 1:34 remaining after back-to-back 3-pointers by Mary Janovich and Kelsey Hizer.
Morningside regained the lead at 76-74 on a jump shot in the lane by Jessica Tietz with 32 seconds left before Concordia tied it again at 76-76 on a layup by Hizer with 14 seconds left.
Taylor Bahensky scored the winning point for Morningside when she made the second of a two-shot foul with seven seconds left to make it 77-76.
Bahensky made nine of 10 free throw attempts for the game and finished with 17 points to share Mustang scoring honors with Tietz, who drilled seven of 10 floor shots. Jordyn Wollenburg joined them in double figures with 11 points to finish two points off her career scoring high.
Allison Bachman just missed double figures with nine points for her third straight strong scoring effort off the bench with 29 points in the last three games. Lexi Ackerman and Ashlynn Muhl each added eight tallies. Muhl also collected a game-high nine rebounds.
Morris scored a game-high 24 points for Concordia and was joined in double figures by Hizer and Tracy Peitz, each with 10. Jericca Pearson contributed nine points off the bench and Janovich had eight points.
Muhl’s nine rebounds along with a seven-board performance by Ackerman led the Mustangs to a 40-33 advantage on the boards. Morris led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds to go along with a game-high nine assists.
Hizer and Morningside’s Madison Braun shared game honors with four steals.
Morningside and Concordia will both host quarterfinal round games when the GPAC Post-Season Tournament gets underway on Wednesday, Feb. 25.