SIOUX CITY -- Sierra Mitchell doesn’t need much room to shoot and Morningside needed all of the sophomore’s immense talents from beyond the arc to fend off Briar Cliff Wednesday at the Newman Flanagan Center.
Mitchell nailed eight 3-pointers and poured in 32 points, leading the Mustangs to a 71-67 win in an early season matchup of crosstown rivals.
Morningside, ranked No. 11 in NAIA Division II, rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to remain unbeaten. The Mustangs moved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Briar Cliff (3-3, 0-3) went on a third-quarter tear to erase a 36-26 halftime deficit, outscoring the Mustangs 28-10 in the third quarter. Then, when Taylor Wagner got a steal and layup to begin the fourth quarter, the Chargers had a 56-46 lead.
Morningside cut into the deficit with an 8-0 run and when Mitchell sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a putback by BCU’s Logan Ehlers, the Mustangs regained a 65-62 advantage.
Alyssa Carley tied it with a trey from the top of the key with 3:21 left and M’side’s Faith Meyer answered with a 3-pointer at the other end. Faith Troshysnki worked her way underneath for a bucket with 2:20 remaining, but that wound up being Briar Cliff’s final points of the game.
The Chargers, though, still had a chance to tie it a couple of times late in the contest.
Trailing 60-57, Troshysnki missed a 3-pointer but Morningside was called for traveling on a battle for t
he rebound. The Chargers missed a layup and were called for a foul, but Grace Meyer missed two free throws at the other end with 10.9 seconds left.
Briar Cliff’s Wagner got off a long 3-point attempt in the closing seconds but missed and the Mustangs rebounded. Jordyn Moser converted one of two free throws at the 1.7-second mark.
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“I’ll give it to Briar Cliff, they played really hard today,” Mitchell said. “We just had to work hard as a team to fight back and do what we did.”
Mitchell was 8-for-17 from long range, but was the only Morningside player in double figures.
“Jamie called time out when they got up by a few and we kind of got our composure back,” Mitchell said. “We focused on being disciplined on defense and working together and that made a difference.”
Briar Cliff shot a horrid 27.8 percent while falling behind 36-26 at halftime but righted the ship and took a 40-38 lead on a layup by Breanna Allen with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
“We weren’t getitng into our defenses at all and they were making us pay,” Morningside Coach Jamie Sale said. “They made a real nice run and I was proud of my team with the crowd kind of behind them and loud, that we found a way to fight back.
“Sierra is playing great lately and offensively carrying us. We’re going to eventually find some other people to step up because people aren’t going to keep letting her shoot like that.”
Briar Cliff’s Troshynski hit four 3-pointers en route to a team-high 18 points. Ehlers, a 6-2 sophomore, posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Wagner and Carley chipped in 10 points each.
Charger Coach Mike Power said his team battled hard while coming close to picking up its first win over Morningside since 2012.
“We had a great third quarter and played well on both ends,” Power said. “Then in the fourth quarter I felt the way we approached it was not to lose. We kind of forgot what got us to that point but Morningside hit some big-time shots.
“We just have to figure out a way to close out games. This is the sixth game we’ve played and five against top 12 teams. We’ve played a tough schedule and are 3-3 out of it. If somebody told me that we could have done that, I would take it.”