FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University men’s basketball hosted Northwestern College on Tuesday night in a Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) matchup. The Warriors never trailed in the game and bested the previously-unbeaten Raiders, for the first time since 2018 by a score of 77-66.
Looking poised to erase the memories of an 85-56 loss the last time the two sides met, the Warriors wasted little time in setting the tone of the game. The starters put on a three-point shooting barrage, connecting on 6 of their first 11 attempts from deep to take a 20-9 lead in the opening eight minutes of the game.
An early Northwestern timeout did little to slow the momentum as Midland went on another run.
At one point, the Warriors connected on four consecutive three-point shots to extend their advantage to 36-14 by the 7:33 mark of the period.
“When you can defend the way we did tonight and combine that with us shooting the way we can, it was fun to watch,” said head coach Oliver Drake.
Honored before the game for scoring his 1000th point against Jamestown, senior Laurence Merritt put on a show, highlighting the offensive prowess that etched him into Midland scoring history. In just the first half, Merritt connected on four triples and poured in a total of 15 points to help buoy the Warriors to a 47-26 lead at the intermission.
In the second half, steady perimeter shooting and the play of reigning GPAC Freshman-of-the-Year Alex Van Kalsbeek helped Northwestern claw back into the game. A 22-point Warriors’ lead was cut to just 10 after a 15-3 Raiders’ run.
Intent on not letting the game get too close, Midland slowed their pace of play and ramped up their aggression on the defensive end. Their efforts were evident as they forced seven turnovers and allowed just one Northwestern successful three-point basket in the final ten minutes of the game.
Down the stretch, the Warriors connected on nine consecutive free throw attempts over the final four minutes to close out their 77-66 victory.
Coach Drake was pleased to see his team defeat such a quality opponent. “We’re finishing a stretch where we played three national tournament teams. To get this one against an undefeated Northwestern team with two of the best players in our league, in Hilbrands and Van Kalsbeek, was good for us. Most importantly, it was good to see us guard the way we are capable of guarding. Our guys have put a lot of work in the dark and I’m just so glad that they got paid back tonight in a big way!”
Next up for the Warriors (6-3, 1-2 GPAC) is the Draemel Classic. Midland will host Dakota State (2-7) and Bellevue (5-4) in a two-day invitational that sees Mount Marty facing the same foes. Play begins on Saturday, November 27 when Midland faces Dakota State at 4:00 p.m. The following day, they’ll square up with Bellevue at 3:00 p.m.