SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) In front of a spirited hometown crowd, top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) stormed back from a deficit as large as 17 to avoid a second-round exit. The Mustangs awoke just in time to pull a 74-66 victory out of the fire in the face of a serious challenge from fifth-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan.
Head coach Jamie Sale’s squad won for the 34th time in 35 tries this season. Morningside, winner of three national titles in program history, improved to 32-9 all-time on the national stage. The Eagles, who picked up their first-ever national tournament win on Wednesday, concludes the 2014-15 season at 27-7 overall.
The Mustangs wore Oklahoma Wesleyan down with roster loaded with talent top-to-bottom. Even with star post Ashlynn Muhl sidelined for the tournament, Morningside went 12 deep and got seven or more points from seven different players. The collective effort, led by Allison Bachman’s 17 points, allowed the Mustangs to outscore the Eagles, 45-24, in the second half.
The tide turned just after the midway point of the second half. Bachman dropped in three-straight buckets in the paint to bring Morningside within six. Freshman Lauren Lehmkul played a big role in the Mustangs’ push to gain the lead. She drilled a trey and then another jumper to provide a 56-55 advantage with 6:03 left.
Susan Agesen responded by knocking down a trey as Oklahoma Wesleyan reclaimed a 58-56 lead. Madison Braun answered with a triple of her own and Morningside never trailed in the game’s closing five minutes. Bachman and Braun combined to go 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 45 seconds to shut the door on the Eagle season.
Braun finished with 14 points and seven boards. Jordyn Wollenburg recorded a double-double by totaling 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Mustangs owned a 52-38 advantage on the boards and limited Oklahoma Wesleyan to 30 percent (18-for-60) shooting from the field.
Nichole Tate topped a group of three double-figure scorers for the Eagles. Tate posted a line of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Morningside has advanced to take on defending national champion Saint Francis (Ind.) (25-9) in Saturday evening’s quarterfinal clash. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. CDT from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.