SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Midland University’s men’s basketball team completed a second-half comeback on Saturday evening to put a halt to its six-game losing skid.
The Warriors (8-15, 4-12 GPAC) trailed by nine at the half but shot their way to a 96-89 victory over the Briar Cliff Chargers (14-13, 5-12 GPAC). The Chargers were on a three-game winning streak entering the game, which included wins over No. 1 Morningside and No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan.
“Our guys really battled against the hottest team in our conference,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake. “This was a total team effort and I am so happy for our players. We continue to get better and tonight we got an awesome road win.”
The lead changed four times in the opening half of play as the teams went back and forth. Late in the half, the Chargers went on a 13-3 run that got them back to the lead. The margin reached as high as 12 points, but a pair of three-pointers from freshman Arturo Montes and a basket from freshman Samuel Mailloux kept the Warriors in it as Briar Cliff led 50-41 at the break.
After another high-scoring first half, which has not been uncommon for the Warriors, both teams had made 16 of their 33 field goal attempts. The difference was at the free throw line, where the Chargers had gone 11-for-14 compared to Midland’s 2-for-3 clip.
Briar Cliff held their lead around 10 points for the opening seven minutes of the second half, but the Warriors went toe-to-toe and waited for their opportunity. Finally, when trailing by 11, back-to-back baskets from sophomore Bowen Sandquist ignited a 9-0 to force a Charger timeout.
With the momentum, the Warriors stayed close and retook the lead with 11 and a half minutes to play after Sandquist was fouled on a three-point attempt. He made all three free throws as part of a 14-0 run as the Warriors quickly found themselves up by eight points.
Despite the surge, the Chargers found a way to weather the storm, much like they had done in their recent upset wins, and managed to chip away and retake an 86-85 lead with three minutes to play.
Sandquist’s quick bucket got the Warriors back in front, which led to an individual 7-0 run for junior guard Laurence Merritt as four late free throws for he and freshman Jake Rueschhoff put the game on ice and capped off the comeback win. Midland outscored Briar Cliff 55-39 in the final 20 minutes and finished the game 36-for-70 (51.4 percent) from the field.
Merritt led the all scorers with 34 points thanks partly to five made three-pointers. The junior has now scored 20+ points in consecutive games after a late-season slump had held him down in recent weeks.
Ethan Freidel led the Chargers with 30 points while Jaden Kleinhesselink totaled 20 points as the two combined to make nine three-pointers in the game.
Sandquist finished with 19 points while freshman Kylan Smallwood also added 14 points and tied for the team lead with Emanuel Bryson with six rebounds. Both Merritt and Sandquist played the entire 40 minutes as Smallwood logged 39 minutes on the court.
After a rough patch and two final road games ahead on the schedule, Saturday’s win proves that the Warriors have been improving since the start of the new year. With another well-deserved win under their belts, they appear set to finish the rocky season on a high note.
Midland stays in-state and travels to Crete, Nebraska on Wednesday, February 12, to face off with the Doane Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Midland University collected its second-straight Great Plains Athletic Conference win after an 82-71 road victory over Briar Cliff University on Saturday afternoon. Midland improves to 10-16 on the year with a 6-12 mark in GPAC action while Briar Cliff falls to 7-19 and 4-14 in the league.
Midland shot 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field compared to 50.9 percent (28-of-55) for Briar Cliff. The Warriors benefitted from 49 bench points compared to just nine for the Chargers. The Warriors came away with 26 rebounds versus 23 for the Chargers. Sophomore Lexis Haase had the hot hand for the Warriors and turned in a 20-point performance. Senior Maddie Meadows and freshman Lexi Kraft followed with 13 points and 11 points, respectively. Haase was the team leader in rebounds with five while Kraft contributed five assists on the afternoon.
Midland got up early after a three by Meadows made the score 7-2 with 7:32 to go in the opening quarter. Briar Cliff would come back to take a narrow lead midway through the quarter before a three by Haase saw the Warriors up 15-12 with three minutes on the clock. Freshman Emma Shepard capped off the quarter with a pair of free throws to give Midland the 19-16 lead heading into the second quarter.
Junior Makenna Sullivan and Kraft combined for a pair of layups to give Midland their largest lead of the day at 27-20 with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter. The teams would trade points down the stretch before a three by Kraft capped off the quarter as the Warriors led 34-28 heading into the break.
Meadows would hit a trio of threes early in the third quarter to give Midland the 43-36 edge with 6:18 on the clock. Kraft got in on the action with a pair of threes to extend the lead to 49-38 with 3:42 to go. Sophomore Sam Shepard knocked down a three with under a minute to go to bring the score to 56-44 heading into the final quarter of action.
Early free throws for both sides marked the start of the fourth quarter before a three by Sam Shepard had Midland up 66-56 with 5:41 remaining. The Chargers would hit a three to cut into the lead, but Haase would hit a three of her own to put the Warriors up 72-61 with just over three minutes to go. Senior Amanda Hansen dropped in a layup to seal the deal for the Warriors as time expired with Midland up 82-71.
Midland (10-16, 6-12 GPAC) is back on the road for a midweek matchup against Doane University on Wednesday, February 8 with tipoff set for 6:00 p.m. The Warriors will look to complete the season sweep over the Tigers after a 79-68 home win on January 8.