SIOUX CITY | When Greg Ulland walked into the locker room, he was greeted by excited Jamestown players who doused him with water from their bottles.
Ulland wasn’t expecting it, but accepted their appreciation. The eighth-year head coach claimed his 200th career victory following Saturday afternoon’s 78-74 win over Morningside during a matchup of No. 6-ranked teams at the Briar Cliff Holiday Classic.
“When he came in, it was silent, then we just started throwing water on him,” said 5-foot-4 senior wing McKayla Orr, who tallied a game-high 22 points for a 16-2 squad which collected its 12th straight victory.
“I mean … these trips down here are hard and brutal. It was nice to come out here with two wins on the road. When we’re in the gym, he’s a coach, he’s on us, he’s making us better. Off the court, we can go in and talk to him. It’s a really important thing to us because on the court, he’s a coach, but off the court, we can go in and talk to him like a dad.”
Ulland has a sparkling .823 winning percentage and is four wins shy of guiding the North Star Athletic Association first-place team to the program’s eighth consecutive 20-win season. Bryn Woodside supplied 15 points, eight assists and three steals for the Jimmies while Paige Emmel had a team-high four 3-point baskets while also turning in 15 points.
“This is such a good group of kids,” said Ulland. “You spend so much time with them. You’re around them all. I gave them a stat the other day. I spend 15 times more time with them than my own kids. They know that this is a good win for us. When you get times like these or games like these, you have to be able to celebrate and be happy about things.”
Madison Braun scored 18 points for Morningside (13-4), which like Jamestown, enjoyed a seven-point lead in the first half. Six-foot sophomore forward Sydney Rupp provided 16 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots while Lauren Lehmkuhl came off the bench to contribute 14 points.
This game between future Great Plains Athletic Conference rivals (beginning in 2018-19) featured seven lead changes. Braun, in helping Coach Jamie Sale’s Mustangs rally from a 37-34 halftime deficit, nailed a 3-pointer for a 39-37 lead, but Emmel helped the Jimmies take the lead for keeps when she swished three free throws after she was fouled by Hupp on a 3-point attempt.
Another Jamestown victory key was a 16-8 edge in points off turnovers, 11 which came in the first half. Following Emmel’s free throws, Woodside recorded a steal and Orr hit a layup for a 42-39 lead.
“We’re a small team, so we really get up and pressure and make nothing easy,” said Orr. “When they get the ball, we don’t want them to feel comfortable. We want to make them go fast.”
Orr’s third trey of the game provided a 68-56 lead with 8:26 left. Four different Mustangs combined to score the game’s next nine points in a three-minute stretch, including Hupp, whose two free throws trimmed the deficit to 68-65 with 5:17 remaining.
Eighteen seconds later, Emmel hit a 3 for a team that never lost the lead, though Jenna Bork’s 25tj 3-pointer of the season with 48 seconds left lifted the Mustangs within four points in what proved to be the game’s final basket.
“Jamestown is a great team,” said Sale. “They have one of the best point guards in the nation (Woodside), they have good inside play, good shooters and they play great defense. We knew it was a hard matchup for us and we’d have to play well. I think we played OK. It’s not like we played bad, but Jamestown played a little bit better and they deserved to win.”
Sale’s squad has lost two of its last three games, both against nationally-ranked opponents. Two rated GPAC teams, No. 9 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 2 Concordia, host the Mustangs Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.
“When you play games like these, they make you play better,” said Sale. “You see situations you can’t make in practice. We knew when we saw our schedule, we were going to play five rated teams in a row. We’ll just have play them one at a time and hopefully play as well as we can and hope for the best. We have a long season to go, a young team and I hope we’re playing well by the end of the year.”