ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Midland University’s women’s basketball season came to a close on Wednesday night as the Warriors fell to Northwestern College in the opening round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament. Sixth-seeded Midland fell behind early and couldn’t muster a comeback, falling to third-seeded Northwestern by a final score of 76-54.
The loss ends Midland’s season at 15-11 overall while Northwestern will advance to the GPAC Semifinals with a record of 17-9. The Warriors shot 28.4 percent from the field, their second-lowest percentage of the season, compared to 42.2 percent for the Raiders. The game featured streaks of solid defense as the teams totaled 91 rebounds (48 NWC, 43 MU). Lexis Haase paced the Warriors with 12 points while Peyton Wingert followed with eight to go along with seven rebounds. Katy Gathje had nine points and seven boards. Makenna Sullivan led the team with 10 rebounds.
The two teams struggled offensively in the early goings as a layup from Kraft gave Midland a 5-4 advantage with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter. The lead stood until a made three-pointer from the Raiders. A steal and layup from Emma Shepard knotted things up 7-7 with under a minute to go in the opening quarter.
Northwestern managed to pull away with a 9-7 edge, thanks to a pair of free throws to end the period. While the offense was dismal, the teams battled on the defensive front. There were 31 total rebounds in the first 10 minutes of action.
The second quarter was following a similar trend as the score crept up to 11-9 in favor of Northwestern with seven minutes remaining in the half. Then, seemingly at the flip of a light switch, the shots began to fall for both teams.
Lexis Haase faked out her defender with a quick step to drain a three, bringing things to 16-14 with five minutes to go. Kraft mimicked her counterpart with a three of her own to give the Warriors a narrow 17-16 advantage. The Raiders capitalized on an offensive rebound to go up 23-20 before a jumper from Wingert brought Midland within one with 1:46 remaining. Haase came up clutch at the buzzer, draining her second three of the night to leave things at 27-25 heading into the break.
After the trips to their respective locker rooms, Northwestern came out on an 11-3 run to start the third quarter. A jumper from Haase slowed things down before Kennedy Darner picked up her first three of the night with 4:19 remaining with her team facing a 42-34 deficit.
The Raiders came roaring back, extending their lead to 47-34. Darner would hit another from beyond the arch as the score climbed to 47-39 with 2:23 remaining in the third. Midland continued to connect from behind the arc as Shepard drained one on the following possessing pulling the Warriors within seven. Northwestern would buckle down for a five-point run to close out the quarter, taking a 54-45 advantage into the final 10 minutes of play.
The Raiders managed to increase the lead through the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, going up 63-46 with under eight to go. Both teams had opportunities from the charity stripe as the score progressed to 68-52 with four minutes on the clock. Northwestern added to their lead through, running away with a 76-54 win to advance to the GPAC Tournament Semifinals. They’ll face Concordia University after the Bulldogs bested Dakota Wesleyan University by a score of 70-58.
“Obviously the first quarter was a struggle for both teams offensively, but I really liked our effort on the glass and the level we defended the entire first half,” said Midland head coach Shawn Gilbert. “We just struggled to consistently make shots the entire game. In the second half, we didn’t rebound as well and turned the ball over which led to transition points for them. Northwestern had an answer every time we made a run.”
“It’s always hard to end the season and have to say goodbye to some really great people. This group definitely helped our program grow and should be proud of all that they accomplished.’
Midland closes out the 2020-21 season with a respectable 15-11 overall record. The Warriors will have large roles to fill next season as the team loses the senior class of Makenna Sullivan, Carissa Wilson, Haley Weimer, Lexis Haase, and Katy Gathje. While the team will feel the loss of this competitive senior class, the Warriors will aim to reload and build off a successful season.