Photo courtesy of Gene Knudsen
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Morningside gained a share of first place in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) women's basketball standings with a 77-71 victory over sixth-ranked Briar Cliff in Saturday's action in the CNOS Foundation Classic at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena.
The win moved the Mustangs, ranked third nationally in the NAIA Division II, into a tie with No. 1-ranked Concordia atop the league standings with identical 8-1 league records. Concordia, which entered the day as one of only three remaining undefeated teams in the NAIA, suffered its first loss of the season when it was upset 96-86 in double overtime at Dordt. Morningside has an overall record of 16-2 after its win over Briar Cliff.
Hanna Blum led the Mustangs in scoring with 14 points behind a six-for-10 shooting performance, while freshman teammate Jessica Tietz drilled six of nine floor shots en route to 13 points. All-American Chelsie Trask joined them in double figures with 10 points, while Bobbi McManaman just missed twin figures with nine points and Lacey Lehmann had eight.
Tietz has drilled 21 of 26 field goal attempts for 80.8 percent over her last five games.
Morningside's Ashlynn Muhl and Jordyn Wollenburg each grabbed nine rebounds to share game honors, while Tietz and Blum each had eight caroms to lead the Mustangs to a 56-39 domination of the boards.
Blum, Lehmann, and Shelby Beaudette all dealt four assists to match Briar Cliff's Kela Cihak for game honors.
An 11-2 Morningside scoring run during a brief two-minute stretch of the second half proved pivotal in the Mustangs' triumph. After Morningside took a 34-27 lead into the intermission, the Chargers outscored the Mustangs 17-4 to start the second half and eventually opened a seven-point advantage for their biggest lead of the game when a Mattie Murren 3-pointer put Briar Cliff ahead 58-51 with 7:49 left in the game.
It didn't take the Mustangs long to erase the deficit. Beaudette made a 3-pointer with 7:29 left to close the gap to 58-54 and after a 3-pointer by McManaman and a basket by Wollenburg the Mustangs had the lead at 59-58 with 7:02 left in the game.
The lead changed hands three times before Blum put the Mustangs ahead to stay with a jumper from the key to make it 67-66 with 3:52 left.
Morningside led 34-27 at the intermission after a sluggish opening 20 minutes where the Mustangs shot just 29.7 percent from the field and Briar Cliff was even colder at 27.8 percent. However, the Mustangs owned the boards and went into the break with a 35-19 rebounding advantage.
Morningside opened the scoring with a 3-point basket by Trask just 20 seconds into the contest. Briar Cliff took a 6-5 lead after a pair of free throws by Cihak at the 16:08 mark of the half and eventually increased the lead to a pair of five-point advantages, the last at 20-15 on a layup by Murren with 9:19 left in the half.
Morningside then went on a 14-0 run by holding the Chargers scoreless for six minutes. The Mustangs tied the score at 20-20 on a 3-pointer by Trask with 8:21 left in the half and took a 22-20 lead one minute later by working the ball inside to Tietz. Morningside eventually opened a nine-point lead when a basket by Blum put the Mustangs up 29-20 with 3:39 left to cap the 14-0 run.
Murren ended the Chargers' six-minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer to bring the Chargers within 29-23, but the Mustangs' Nicole Rauner answered with a 3-pointer of her own to put the difference back to nine points, 32-23, with 2:59 left before the break