SIOUX CITY | Mayville State doesn’t normally make the trip here to compete in the Briar Cliff Holiday Classic, but women’s basketball coach Dennis Hutler felt with the team he has this season, it would prove to be beneficial.
The Comets are a nationally ranked NAIA Division II squad, holding down the No. 23 spot in the latest poll. They suffered through some shooting woes in a one-sided loss to No. 6 Morningside on Friday but bounced back with an 81-64 win over Briar Cliff Saturday at the Newman Flanagan Center.
“We’ve played a lot of GPAC teams this season, it’s obviously a very good league and all the teams are very solid,” Hutler said. “If you’re trying to get your program where you want to get it to, you’re going to match it up against teams in the GPAC.
“I thought we played much more the way we’re capable of playing tonight than we did last night. There was a little bit of an awe factor last night, but tonight we had more fluidity offensively. We didn’t fight as hard to get shots and knocked them down at a better clip and played with much more energy, passion and enthusiasm and that makes all the difference in the world.”
Mayville State (11-4) scored 36 points off turnovers and launched 34 3-point shots, connecting on 13. The Comets led from start to finish, although Briar Cliff cut a 12-point deficit to four midway through the third quarter.
After that, though, all the momentum favored Mayville State.
“We didn’t take care of the basketball and that’s kind of the results of what’s going to happen,” Briar Cliff Coach Mike Power said. “You have to value the basketball and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Briar Cliff (6-11) lost its fourth straight and eighth in its last nine games.
“There’s a lot of the season left and we could be playing for something,” Power said. “Our record is not indicative of how good we could actually be, we just haven’t reached that potential. The frustrating part is some nights different things fall off, but we just have find a way to keep battling.”
The Chargers did most of their scoring from the free throw line, making 21 of 29. They shot 19 of 54 from the field for 35 percent and had just one player in double figures, Abby Heston with 10 points.
Conversely, Mayville State had four reach doubles, led by Naomi Torgerson with 20 points. Karleigh Weber and Claire Blascziek added 15 apiece and Taylor Heurung came off the bench to contribute a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Mayville State forged a 21-15 lead after one quarter and led 45-37 at halftime. After the lead grew to 12 points with two buckets to begin the third quarter, Briar Cliff went on an 8-0 run to pull within 49-45.
It was still 54-49 with 2:47 left in the third quarter, but the Comets outscored BCU 9-1 the rest of the stanza, breaking with a 63-50 cushion.
“The wheels kind of fell off the bus then,” Power said. “They hit a couple threes in a row and we didn’t respond very well and it was end of ball game. It’s something we need to keep getting better at.”
Briar Cliff leaps back into Great Plains Athletic Conference action Wednesday, hosting College of St. Mary.