SIOUX CITY – Not only did Briar Cliff take a big step toward qualifying for the Great Plains Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament, but also ended a long drought on Saturday.
The Chargers bested reeling Morningside 78-61 at the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center, snapping a 17-game losing skid to their crosstown rivals. Moreover, Briar Cliff picked up its first win at Morningside since the 1990-91 season.
Before this triumph, Briar Cliff’s last win over Morningside came on Jan. 7, 2012, 97-84, in the CNOS Foundation Basketball Classic at the Tyson Events Center.
Its last victory at Morningside was on Nov. 28, 1990, when a Cindy Tudehope-coached squad prevailed 81-78.
The Chargers, now 14-14 overall and eighth in the GPAC standings with an 8-12 mark, outplayed NAIA Division II No. 14 Morningside in every facet. The Mustangs (18-10, 10-10) suffered their sixth loss in their last seven games.
“It’s really good for our kids to feel good about something,” Briar Cliff Coach Mike Power said. “We played our best game of the year. They played with a lot of enthusiasm and really wanted to win. They played with such urgency and passion and really took care of the basketball.”
Briar Cliff led for all but roughly four minutes of the game. Morningside took an early lead and after trailing 14-12 at the end of the first quarter went in front 18-16 two minutes into the second quarter.
A layup by Faith Troshysnki with 5:15 left in the second quarter put the Chargers ahead for good. Outhustling Morningside for every loose ball and dominating the boards to the tune of 43-23, Briar Cliff forged a 38-29 halftime lead, led 56-46 after three quarters and cemented the milestone victory by limiting the Mustangs to one basket in a five-minute fourth-quarter stretch.
“This is the last chance Taylor (Vasa) and I had to do this so to be able to do this on the last time, I don’t even know how to explain it,” said senior Taylor Wagner, who led Briar Cliff with 16 points. “We came in with a mindset that you are going to bend and not break. Things are not always going to go your way but you have to keep your energy high but at the same time keep it level. I think we executed that plan well.”
Alyssa Carley and Madelyn Deitchler, former high school teammates at Treynor, contributed 12 points apiece for the Chargers. Mya Hendry, a 6-1 freshman from Rapid City, South Dakota, had her best collegiate performance with 13 points and six rebounds while Logan Ehlers also came off the bench to tally eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
“We have a great group of kids,” Power said. “The character of the team is as high as I’ve ever coached and to have something good like that happen, I’m so happy for them.”
Briar Cliff scored 30 points off 19 Mustang turnovers and, interestingly, remained unbeaten when it has scored over 71 points in a game.
Morningside continued to struggle offensively, making only 8 of 31 3-point shots and shooting 41 percent overall from the field.
“They played like they wanted it more, they played harder than us and you can tell right now who the hungrier team is,” said Morningside Coach Jamie Sale after a lengthy post-game conversation with his team.
“We have to find the players who are all in and who aren’t. We haven’t had losing streaks like this in a long time and for me it’s embarrassing. We have to be better, we have to play with more enthusiasm.
“It’s one thing if a team beats you, it’s another if they beat you just because they play harder. That’s what’s disappointing.”
Sydney Hupp, the most recent addition to the school’s 1,000-point club, scored 13 points, while Sierra Mitchell added 12. The Mustangs are tied with Midland for sixth in the league standings.
Briar Cliff leads Mount Marty by one-half game for eighth and has regular season games remaining at Dordt and at home against College of St. Mary.