SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Midland University’s basketball team was on track for a much-needed road victory on Saturday afternoon, but clutch second-half shooting from their opponents kept the Warriors from snatching an upset win.
The Warriors (3-7 overall, 1-4 GPAC) held a one-point lead at the halftime break, but the No. 23 Defenders (9-4 overall, 3-3 GPAC) got hot and outlasted the Warriors en route to a 96-87 win.
“Our guys battled and made plays all night long against a nationally-ranked team,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake. “We didn’t get the result, but we got better.”
Both teams traded blows in the first half as Midland used a well-balanced offensive attack to go on a 10-2 run and take an eight-point lead six minutes into the game.
Dordt tied the game shortly thereafter with nine minutes to play in the first half. In the final two minutes, Midland outscored Dordt 6-1 to take a 38-37 lead into halftime.
In the first half, the Defenders, who rank in the top-25 in Division II in scoring offense (88.39 PPG), were 13-for-32 (40.6 percent) from the field and connected on just four of their 15 three-pointers. They stepped up their game in the second half, as many expected they would.
The Defenders started the second half on a tear and made nine of their first 10 field goal attempts, four of which coming from Jesse Jansma. The streak put Dordt in front 60-53 with 14 minutes to play.
The Warriors were unfazed and quickly responded with an 8-1 run to tie the game at 61-61, bookended by back-to-back buckets from junior guard Laurence Merritt. After weathering the early shooting spree from Dordt, Midland stepped back out to a nine-point advantage with six minutes to play after a basket for freshman Kylan Smallwood.
Jansma and teammate Garrett Franken refused to let the Warriors run away with the game and responded with a 17-4 run to take an 85-81 lead with just over two minutes to play. The Warriors never managed to regain the lead and were forced to foul late as Dordt sank all six of its free throw attempts in the final minute to outlast Midland’s upset bid.
Dordt shot 63.3 percent (19-for-30) from the floor in the second half and outrebounded Midland 42-38 for the game, the second time in as many games that the Warriors have been beaten on the glass. The Defenders also made 20 of their 26 free throw attempts compared to the Warriors going just 8-for-16 from the line.
“We make a few more free throws and we would’ve earned the result we wanted,” Drake said.
Jansma’s stellar performance resulted in a career-high 41 points on 13-for-19 shooting from the field for the junior guard. Chad Barkema and Franken each finished with 17 points and nine rebounds to help Jansma lift the Defenders to victory.
Four Warriors finished in double figures, led by a 26-point performance from Merritt on 11-for-15 shooting from the field. Sophomore Bowen Sandquist finished with a season-high 19 while Smallwood came home with 16 and freshman Hunter Mengel totaled 13 off the bench.
It’s a tough one for the Warriors to let slip away, but in the middle of a difficult stretch of games, it’s important for the Warriors to see that they are capable of keeping up with some of the best teams the conference has to offer.
“I’m so proud of the way we competed all night against a really good, veteran team,” Drake said. “This group will continue to get better and it’s going to be fun to see the growth as we continue this journey.”
Midland returns to the home court this Saturday, Dec. 14, for another tough conference matchup versus the (RV) Northwestern College Red Raiders at 4:00 p.m. in Fremont, Nebraska.
SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Midland University’s women’s basketball continued their tough Great Plains Athletic Conference schedule on the road against No. 5 Dordt University in a Saturday afternoon matchup. The Warriors fell by a score of 98-62 as their overall record falls to 4-8, 1-5 GPAC. Five of Midland’s losses have come at the hands of teams ranked in the top-ten of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II Top-25.
Midland shot 31.5 percent (23-of-73) from the field compared to 56.7 percent (38-of-767) for Dordt. The Defenders outrebounded the Warriors 51-31, but the Warriors held a slight 10-9 edge in offensive rebounds. Junior Katy Gathje led Midland with 15 points and six rebounds. Senior Jada Simpson followed with 11 points. Senior Amanda Hansen recorded four assists to lead the team.
Dordt enjoyed a fast start in the first quarter after going up 9-0 before a jumper from freshman Lexi Kraft got Midland on the board. The Warriors would narrow the lead after three-point baskets from sophomore Lexis Haase and Hansen brought the score to 12-9 with 4:33 on the clock. The Defenders outscored the Warriors 7-3 down the stretch to take a 19-12 lead into the second quarter.
Midland would hit two threes early in the second quarter to pull within five as Dordt led 26-21. Turnovers plagued the Warriors as the Defenders went up 32-23 with 5:45 remaining. The teams traded points through the final minutes of the quarter, but a late jumper at the buzzer gave Dordt a 40-31 edge heading into intermission.
The third quarter looked to be evenly matched in the early goings, but a seven-point run forced a Midland timeout as Dordt led 52-35. The timeout did little to slow the Defender’s momentum as another seven-point run was eventually halted by a layup from Sam Shepard. Another scoring run ensued for Dordt before a jumper from Hansen and a three from Shepard brought the score to 69-39 with 3:33 to go. Late free-throws brought the score to 80-47 heading into the final quarter. Dordt was 15-of-20 from the field in the third quarter.
Eight quick points by Simpson game Midland a spark as they trailed 89-57 with under five minutes to go. The Defenders enjoyed another seven-point run before another three from Simpson slowed the momentum. Freshman Sierra Kile would drop in a layup for Midland as time expired, but the lead would stand for Dordt as the home team earned a 99-62 win.
Midland (4-8, 1-5 GPAC) returns to Wikert Event Center for their final home contest of 2019 as they host No. 11 Northwestern College. Tipoff is set for Saturday, December 14 at 2:00 p.m. in Fremont, Nebraska.