SIOUX CITY – Summoning up an extra ounce of energy, Tyler Borchers made two big baskets in the final minute of Morningside’s thrilling 94-92 Great Plains Athletic Conference men’s basketball win over Dordt Saturday at the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center.
Borchers played 32 minutes, an unusual amount of time for the 6-7 junior, but he and the rest of his teammates had to fill a void left by the absence of sophomore Zach Imig, who is out with a back injury.
“That was a lot of fun, both teams left it all on the floor,” Borchers said. “That’s a great team we had to go up against tonight and they came out and performed. They gave us their best shot and we responded.”
Borchers had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and the fourth-ranked (NAIA Division II) Mustangs had to overcome a 36-point barrage by Dordt’s Alec Henrickson to win in the opening game of the second half of the GPAC schedule.
Spirit Lake, Iowa, product Henrickson, the only senior on the Dordt roster, hit 11 of 13 shots, including six of eight 3-pointers. All of those threes were from very long range and the he was also a handful to guard on drives to the basket.
“If you look just at Dordt’s numbers you would think you’re going to win the game, I certainly would,” Morningside Coach Jim Sykes said. “But our guys found a way to make enough plays down the stretch. They were rolling, hitting shots and we were kind of getting by getting some ugly shots against that zone. We just found a way to get enough stops.
“Fortunately Henrickson didn’t shoot it all the time. We had two guys on him when he was driving and he still made them. He had an exceptional evening and is a great player, he has been for four years. To get an effort like that from him and still win it, I have to give it to our guys for stepping up when Zach’s out.”
Morningside (17-1, 10-1), roared out of the gate when Matt Hahn scored the game’s first seven points. The Mustangs went on to take their biggest lead, 37-22, with 5:44 left in the half.
Dordt, 13-8 overall and 6-6 in the GPAC under first-year Coach Brian Van Haaften, staged a huge rally and tied it at 44-44 on a 3-pointer by Garrett Franken with 4.8 seconds remaining before intermission.
A bucket by Henrickson to open the second half gave the Defenders their first lead of the game and they increased it to 75-67 with eight minutes left. Ben Gesink’s 3-pointer at the 6:17 mark made it 80-72, but Morningside went on a 7-0 spurt to pull within a point.
Tyler Borchers was fouled on a strong move to the hoop and converted a 3-point play with 3:46 left, giving the Mustangs their first lead of the second half. It was back and forth the rest of the way, but the game wasn’t decided until the final horn.
Pierce Almond nailed one of his four 3-pointers, giving Morningside an 88-86 lead with 2:50 remaining. Two game-tying free throws by Henrickson set the stage for a frantic final two minutes.
The teams traded turnovers before Almond missed two 3-point shots. But Henrickson was called for traveling on a drive to the hoop. Tyler Borchers scored with 55.4 seconds left, then Hahn gathered in an errant pass and slammed home a dunk, making it 92-88 with 45.5 ticks left.
Dordt’s Josh VanLingen put one in from close range before Borchers again tallied a bucket underneath with 12.8 seconds showing on the clock. A putback by Franken with 6.7 seconds left was the last basket of the game.
Alex Borchers missed a free throw with 3.6 seconds left and Dordt got the rebound, but Almond intercepted a long pass as the buzzer sounded.
“We didn’t get off to a great start but I thought our guys did a great job of coming back well and hanging in there,” said Van Haaften, in his first season at Dordt after a highly successful 22-year run at Buena Vista University. “They’ve practiced hard every day and I’ve had a blast coaching this team.
“I thought our guys did a good job executing in the last couple of minutes. We had a couple of turnovers that hurt us but up to that point just to get ourselves back in the game and get a lead was a great effort by our guys.”
Dordt lost despite shooting 58.9 percent (33 of 56), making 15 3-pointers and 11 of 14 free throws.
Hahn finished with 20 points for Morningside, while Alex Borchers contributed 14 points and Brody Egger just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine assists. Almond was also in double digits with 12 points.
Henrickson came off the bench for his scoring explosion. Former Hull Western Christian all-stater Josh VanLingen had 18 points and seven rebounds, Franken 10 points and seven caroms and Gesink 12 points.
Morningside’s lead in the GPAC increased to 1.5 games after Briar Cliff suffered a 102-92 road loss to Concordia.