SIOUX CITY | Morningside got all it wanted from Briar Cliff, but pulled away in the fourth quarter to chalk up its 10th straight women’s basketball victory, 83-72, Saturday at the Newman Flanagan Center.
The NAIA Division II 10th-ranked Mustangs (12-2) trailed upset-minded BCU 57-55 after three quarters but outscored the Chargers 28-15 in the fourth, moving into a first-place tie with Concordia at 6-0 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Morningside defeated Briar Cliff for the 15th straight time and is 33-2 against its crosstown rival under Coach Jamie Sale.
“We always know they are going to play as hard as they can against us,” Sale said. “They played really well and I knew that we would have to play well. Defensively we made some mistakes but I thought we played hard. It was a good game.
“I’ve been fortunate, we’ve had a lot of good players. When you have good players it’s easier to have success. I’ve been very fortunate in these games, there’s been a lot of great games that have been close that we’ve found a way to win.”
It was a game of runs, so to speak, and Morningside’s 16-2 spurt in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference.
Briar Cliff took its biggest lead of the game, 60-55, when Abby Heston hit a 3-pointer to open the stanza. Morningside’s Jenna Bork then scored five straight points and the Mustangs took the lead for good on a conventional 3-point play by Alexandra Gill with 7:46 remaining.
Sydney Hupp, who led Morningside with 20 points, capped the big run with an offensive rebound, making it 71-62 with 5:25 left.
“Thank goodness we got Maddie (Braun) back in the offense in the fourth quarter, that helped us out,” Hupp said. “I knew I’d have to show up this game because I knew they would play Maddie close. I knew I’d have to step up.”
Hupp, a 6-foot sophomore from O’Neill, Nebraska, also grabbed nine rebounds to finish just shy of her third double-double of the season. Sierra Mitchell (14 points) and Madison Braun (11 points) were also in double figures. Braun, the team’s leading scorer, had seven points in the fourth quarter while Hupp did most of her damage early with 16 points in the first half, staking the Mustangs to a 43-37 halftime lead.
Briar Cliff erased an 18-7 deficit, taking a 19-18 lead on 3-pointers by Johanna Vaske and Heston. Hupp converted two free throws, starting a 10-0 Mustang surge that put them in front by nine.
Faith Troshysnki and Alyssa Carley sank threes and Vaske made a conventional 3-point play, pulling BCU within 34-33. The Mustangs answered with 3-pointers by Jordyn Moser and Sierra Mitchell to close the half.
Briar Cliff went on an 11-0 run early in the third quarter, turning a 45-39 deficit into a 50-45 advantage, but Morningside countered with an 8-0 spurt to go back in front. Carley scored five straight points late in the quarter, giving BCU a 57-55 lead.
“We had some good ball movement (in the fourth quarter) and finally found a way to get some stops,” Sale said. “We were trading baskets and we found a way to get some stops and take away their 3-point shooting. At the end they were missing shots and we were making them. We were very fortunate, I thought Briar Cliff played very well.”
Johanna Vaske matched Hupp for game scoring honors with 20 points and also raked down nine rebounds. Freshman Logan Ehlers posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Carley finished with 11 points and Troshynski 10.
“I thought our kids played hard, we battled and battled,” Briar Cliff Coach Mike Power said. “We took the lead and kind of changed the way we played after that. Sometimes mentally kids start playing not to lose instead of playing to win and doing what you did up to that point.
“You’re chasing and chasing and all of a sudden you take the lead and go ahead, now you’re being chased. We didn’t respond very well to that. They stepped it up a bit and we didn’t match that.”
Briar Cliff slipped to 6-8 overall and 3-3 in the GPAC.