Morningside’s nationally ranked men’s basketball team appeared headed towards its 11th victory of the season before the University of British Columbia rallied to defeat the Mustangs 80-75 in Thursday’s action in the Las Vegas Hoopla.
The Mustangs, ranked 10th in the NAIA Division II, held a seven-point lead (69-62) with less than five minutes to play before British Columbia went on an 18-6 scoring run to close out the game and improve its record to 15-4. The setback dropped the Mustangs’ record to 10-3.
The Thunderbirds reeled off seven points in a row to tie the score at 69 with 3:46 left and took the lead for good at 74-71 on a conventional 3-point play by Conor Morgan with 2:19 left to play. British Columbia eventually increased its lead to six points, 79-73, on a free throw by Taylor Browne with 42 seconds left.
British Columbia led only twice in the first half when the teams battled to a 36-36 standoff over the opening 20 minutes. The Mustangs broke away to an early seven-point advantage when they opened the game with a 9-2 scoring run. The Mustangs led by six points, 18-12, with 7:43 left in the half and led 36-33 before the Thunderbirds’ Phil Jalalpoor hit from 3-point range to send the teams into the intermission tied at 36.
Morgan had game-high totals of 23 points and nine rebounds for the Thunderbirds. Patrick Simon also scored in double figures with 15 points.
Alex Borchers led the Mustangs with 20 points to match his season’s scoring high. Borchers, who made nine of 13 field goal attempts, gave the Mustangs’ one of the best overall performances of his Morningside career. Aside from his team-high 20 points, Borchers also led the Mustangs with a career-high eight rebounds, dealt a game-high six assists and had three steals to share game honors with teammate Zach Imig.
Morningside had three other players score in double figures. Brody Egger knocked down four of eight 3-point field goal attempts on his way to a 16-point performance. Imig was next with 13 points and Trystan Cummins contributed 11 points off the bench.
The Mustangs completed their scoring summary with six points from Tyler Borchers and three each from Ben Hoskins, Matthew Hahn and Jeff Widhelm. Borchers, the Mustangs’ leading scorer and rebounder, was limited to 11 minutes of playing time before he fouled out.
Alex Borchers’ eight rebounds led the Mustangs to a 45-39 advantage on the boards. Imig had seven rebounds to finish one carom shy of his career best and Cummins matched his career high with six boards.
Morningside made 29 of 70 field goal attempts for 41.4 percent, six of 24 3-point field goal attempts for 25.0 percent and 11 of 19 free throw attempts for 57.9 percent. British Columbia made 25 of 61 floor shots for 41.0 percent, 10 of 31 3-point field goal attempts for 32.3 percent and 20 of 28 free throw attempts for 71.4 percent.
The Mustangs will compete in the Briar Cliff Holiday Classic with games against York on Dec. 29 and Culver-Stockton on Dec. 30.