FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s men’s basketball team outdueled a top-15 offense on Saturday evening to earn the team its first home victory of the 2019-20 campaign.
The Warriors (5-10, 2-6 GPAC) fought fire with fire to outduel the Briar Cliff Chargers (11-7, 2-6 GPAC) en route to a 99-86 conference victory. The win is the first in the series for Midland since 2017 and ends a three-game winning streak for the Chargers.
“We are really proud of the fight we had against a really good Briar Cliff team,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake. “We were dialed in all night to our plan and responded to everything that came our way.”
The Warriors have struggled on defense at times this season, but locked in in this one. Briar Cliff entered the game with the 14th-highest point-per-game total in Division II, averaging 89.4 per contest. Midland held the Chargers three points shy of that mark on Saturday and set a new season high with 99 points to nullify the offensive prowess of their conference foe.
Sophomore guard Bowen Sandquist led the way for Midland and tied his career high with 30 points, thanks in part to shooting 8-for-13 from three-point range. Sandquist has scored 27+ points in three of that last four games to lead his team in competitive stretches. He also helped hold Jackson Lamb, the nation’s fourth-best scorer (24.6 PPG), to a season-low eight points on Saturday.
“Bo has been great for us lately and was a difference maker at both ends of the floor tonight,” Drake said.
Briar Cliff was led by Jaden Kleinhesslink as he totaled a new career-high 34 points while adding eight rebounds. Conner Groves came off the bench and knocked down seven threes in the game, adding 21 points to Briar Cliff’s cause.
Midland was balanced offensively as four players scored in double figures and all seven guys who took the floor scored a minimum of eight points.
Freshman forward Samuel Mailloux got the Warriors started as he found his stroke from the outside by knocking down two threes and scoring eight of Midland’s first 14 points. The Pender, Nebraska native went on to finish with 16 points, 10 coming in the post, to equal his career high that he set on Thursday versus Jamestown.
“Sam and (freshman Hunter Mengel) were huge inside all night,” Drake said. “(Freshman Kylan Smallwood) played some big minutes off the bench for us, too. We were solid and sound up and down our lineup and it was a lot of fun to watch.”
Mailloux started a crucial stretch for Midland in the first half as the Warriors hit four three-pointers in five possessions to extend their lead to seven points near the halfway point of the first half. The teams traded baskets back and forth from that point until the final seconds when a tip-in for Smallwood gave Midland a 10-point lead going into halftime.
Midland’s lead grew to 14 within the first four minutes of the half, but a 12-0 run for Briar Cliff got the Chargers right back in it as the intensity ramped up. Midland weathered the storm and scored eight straight after that, highlighted by an alley-oop to Mengel, to get the lead back to double-digits, where it stayed for the remainder of the game.
The Warriors secured the game at the free throw line as they shot 17-for-19 from the line compared to 8-for-11 shooting from the Chargers, who entered as the best free throw shooting team in Division II (79.7 percent). Midland also limited itself to a season-low four turnovers while forcing 14 from the Chargers.
Sophomore Emanuel Bryson and junior Laurence Merritt scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, to add to Midland’s point total while combining for 10 assists.
“Manny was rock solid and got us no nonsense looks when we needed them the most, and Laurence had another great game floor game for us,” Drake said.
The Warriors showed great discipline in such a fast-paced game on Saturday to earn their second conference win. The guys know they are capable of scoring when needed, but a good defensive effort may get their minds synced up more moving forward as they try to improve as a team.
“We keep telling our guys to stay the course and the results will follow,” Drake said, “and tonight we got the ‘W’.”
Midland stays home for another conference matchup this coming Wednesday, Jan. 8, with a game against the Doane Tigers. Tipoff in Fremont in schedule for 8:00 p.m.
FREMONT, Neb. – Balanced offense and sound defense led the Midland University women’s basketball team to a 72-43 win over Briar Cliff University in Great Plains Athletic Conference action on Saturday afternoon. Midland improves to 6-11 on the year with a 2-7 mark in GPAC play while Briar Cliff falls to 4-13, 1-8 GPAC.
“I was pleased today with the way we responded today after a disappointing loss on Thursday,” said head coach Shawn Gilbert. “I challenged our kids yesterday in practice to play with more intensity on the defense end. I felt like they took it to heart and it was the difference in the game.”
Midland shot 35.1 percent (26-of-74) from the field compared to 36.6 percent (15-of-41) for Briar Cliff. The Warriors outrebounded the Chargers 37-24 with an outlandish 20-3 edge in offensive boards. Midland converted for 17-second chance points and committed just 12 turnovers versus 24 for Briar Cliff. Sophomore Lexis Haase led the Warriors with 14 points to go along with three steals. Sophomore Sam Shepard recorded 11 points and three rebounds. Junior Katy Gathje led all players with 10 rebounds while chipping in eight points. Freshman Lexi Kraft dished out seven assists and senior Amanda Hansen ran away with five steals.
“Our offense has better better as of late, we rebound the basketball well,” added Coach Gilbert. “We need our defense to respond in the same fashion.”
Briar Cliff got out to an early lead before a three from Hansen and layup by Gathje tied things up at 7-7 with 6:29 on the clock. The Warriors maintained control of the ball for the remained of the first quarter as an 11-point run would close out the quarter with an 18-7 lead. The run featured threes from Sam Shepard and Haase as well as a layup by Prusa. Midland forced four Briar Cliff turnovers through the final five minutes of the quarter.
Sam Shepard would pick up right where she left off as a layup and three gave the Warriors a 23-12 lead with seven minutes to go. Six-straight points saw Midland climbing to their largest lead of the contest after a Gathje layup gave her team the 29-14 edge. Briar Cliff would put away a pair of free throws, but another turnover would see Haase dropping in a layup as time expired. The Warriors would carry a 34-16 lead heading into the break.
The Chargers came out of the break with renewed energy and put up five-straight before free throws from Gathje got Midland back in the game. Defense ruled much of the third quarter as neither team could find their rhythm for a good portion of the quarter. With three minutes to go Kraft hit two free throws to bring the lead back to 18 points. Free throws by Haase brought the score to 46-29 heading into the final quarter.
The Warriors struck early in the fourth quarter with a Haase jumper, but neither team would score for the next two minutes. Sam Shepard got the offense flowing again with a three to give Midland a commanding 51-29 lead with 7:50 to go. It would be Shepard again as another ball from beyond the arc saw the Warriors up 54-31. Long shots continued to fly as seniors Jada Simpson and Maddie Meadows would hit a pair to extend the lead to 60-33 with under five minutes to play. A 12-2 run by Midland put things very much out of reach, and the Warriors ran away with the 72-43 victory despite late efforts by the Chargers.
Midland (6-11, 2-7 GPAC) wraps up the homestand with a conference matchup against Doane University on Wednesday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m. Midland has won five-straight against Doane with last years wins coming by way of 48-45 and 66-47 scores.