Eleventh-ranked Northwestern snapped the GPAC’s longest active winning streak with a 66-57 victory against ninth-ranked Morningside on Wednesday in Orange City, Iowa, in a defensive struggle where both teams posted their lowest scoring totals of the season.
The Mustangs had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost their share of first place in the GPAC standings. The loss dropped the Mustangs’ record to 17-5, including a 9-3 mark in the GPAC to fall one game behind front running Briar Cliff, who the Mustangs will host on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Northwestern snapped a mini two-game losing streak to climb to 18-4 overall and 8-4 in the league.
Morningside led just once when an Alex Borchers jump shot put the guests up 3-2 at the 15:54 mark of the first half. Northwestern answered with a turnaround shot in the lane by Steven Kragt to take the lead for good at 4-3 with 15:35 left in the half.
Both teams’ shooters struggled to find the range in a first half where Morningside shot just 33.3 percent and Northwestern connected on only 37.5 percent of its shots and its top point producer, first-team NAIA All-American Colton Kooima, was held scoreless. It was a struggle all night for Kooima, who misfired on all eight of his shots and was shut out of the scoring column after entering the contest as one of the top scorers in the nation with a 22.8-point average.
The Red Raiders received a big night from Nathan Wedel, however, who poured in a game-high 28 points behind an 11-for-16 shooting performance from the field and added a game-high 11 rebounds for a double double. Buysse added double figure support with 16 points, as did Riley Francis with 10.
Freshman Trey Brown led the Mustangs with 10 points. Zach Imig was next with nine points, while Brody Egger, Alex Borchers and Tyler Borchers each had eight.
Wedel’s 11 rebounds paced the Red Raiders to a 45-32 advantage on the boards. Imig paced the Mustangs with eight caroms to match his season’s high.
Morningside shot just 34.0 percent from the field with 18 field goals in 53 attempts.
Northwestern clung to a 15-14 lead with 5:50 left in the first half before the hosts went on a late run to take a 31-23 advantage into the intermission. Buysse did most of the damage for the Red Raiders, scoring eight of his first-half high 11 points, including a pair of 3-point bombs, in the last 4:21 of the half. Buysse’s final 3-pointer, which came with 1:44 left, gave Northwestern an 11-point cushion for the largest lead of the first half at 28-17.
The Red Raiders’ Wedel, who entered the game with a 20.8-point scoring average, came out firing in the second half, making six of seven shots in the first seven minutes, to help the hosts stretch their lead to 45-34.
The Mustangs cut their deficit to six points when Jeff Wedel made back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer, to make it 45-39 with 11:35 left. Morningside still trailed by six points, 48-42 with 10:06 left, before 3-pointers by Buysse and Wedel sparked a 10-2 Northwestern run that pushed the Red Raiders’ lead to a game-high 14 points, 58-44, with 6:44 left.
Madison Braun scored a career-high 38 points, but it was not enough for 13th-ranked Morningside when it suffered an 83-60 loss against No. 10 Northwestern in Wednesday’s GPAC women’s basketball showdown in Orange City, Iowa.
Braun, who made 12 of 24 field goal attempts, including eight of 17 3-point bids, shattered her previous career scoring standard of 33 points in games against Olivet Nazarene earlier this season and against College of the Ozarks last season. She finished seven points shy of Morningside’s single-game scoring record of 45 points by Brittany Carper, which came against Northwestern during the 2003-04 campaign. Braun scored 26 of her points in the second half.
The Mustangs had a four-game winning streak snapped and saw their record go to 17-7 overall and 10-4 in the GPAC for fourth place in the standings. The surging Red Raiders won their eighth game in a row to climb to 16-5 on the season, including an 11-2 mark in the GPAC for second place in the league standings.
The Red Raiders are 11-1 over their last 12 games, dropping just an 84-80 verdict against No. 1-ranked Concordia. The 12-game surge has coincided with the return of Anna Kiel, who has scored at a 15-point clip over the last 12 games since she joined the Red Raiders after the completion of the volleyball season, where she was a first-team NAIA All-American. Kiel, the Des Moines Register’s 2016 Female Prep Athlete of the Year, started her collegiate career playing NCAA Division I volleyball at Iowa State University before she transferred to Northwestern at last year’s semester break.
Kiel supplied 13 points and seven rebounds in the Red Raiders’ triumph, but it was Kassidy De Jong, a returning first-team NAIA II All-American, who did the most damage to the Mustangs with 23 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Haley Birks also scored in double figures with 13 points, while Renee Maneman, the NAIA Division II national leader in assists, dealt 14 assists to go along with eight points and eight rebounds to match De Jong for game honors.
The Morningside setback overshadowed another solid performance by the Braun, who led the Mustangs in scoring for the eighth game in a row and the 17th time this season. Sierra Mitchell came close to double figures with nine points.
Alexandra Gill led the Mustangs with five rebounds in a game where Northwestern dominated the boards by a 41-26 margin.
The Red Raiders put the Mustangs away early, racing to a 33-6 advantage after just one quarter of play in an opening 10 minutes where the hosts burned down the nets at a sizzling 80.0 percent clip with 12 field goals in 15 attempts.
Morningside outscored Northwestern 15-12 in the second quarter to trim three points off the Red Raiders’ lead, but still trailed by an overwhelming 45-21 margin at the intermission. Northwestern shot a sizzling 60.7 percent, outrebounded Morningside by a 19-11 margin and pressured the Mustangs into 13 turnovers and a dismal 30.8 percent shooting percentage in the first half.
The Mustangs closed within 19 points, 57-38, on a 3-pointer by Braun with 2:22 left in the third quarter before Northwestern pushed its lead back to 61-38 heading into the final period.
Northwestern finished with 33 field goals in 58 attempts for 56.9 percent. Aside from Braun, the Mustangs’ shooters never got untracked as the guests finished with 18 field goals in 55 attempts for a chilly 32.7 percent.
Morningside will return to action with a Saturday home game against city rival Briar Cliff at 2 p.m.