FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University was back in action Saturday afternoon as they faced No. 18-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University in an afternoon Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) tilt. Coming off of a gut-wrenching two-point loss to the University of Jamestown on Thursday, the Warriors’ hard work was rewarded with the upset victory against the top-seeded team in the GPAC, 84-75.
The Warriors made their presence felt on the defensive end immediately to start the game and held the Tigers to one made basket on their first nine attempts.
On the offensive end, senior guard Laurence Merritt didn’t take long to get into a rhythm. The sixth man came off the bench and made his first five field goals, scoring 16 of the Warriors 20 points upon checking in.
The hot shooting stretch was part of an 18-3 run that the Warriors went on to take a 32-22 lead with 8:31 to go in the first half. The Tigers wouldn’t be down for long as they took the lead back before halftime thanks to a 17-6 run of their own, leading 39-38 at the intermission.
Montes punished the Tigers anytime they gave him space on the perimeter, shooting 4 of 4 from three-point range in the half. Lambert made his impact in the paint with strong post-ups and timely offensive rebounds.
The offensive firepower kept the Warriors ahead for much of the half, but once again the Tigers would not go away, erasing Midland leads multiple times.
The Warriors took their biggest lead of the game with just 2:10 to go as a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Jake Rueschhoff. Giving Midland a 74-63 lead.
Tigers’ forward Koln Oppold, who had a team-high 27 points, kept his team in the game with back-to-back 3pt field goals to cut the Warrior lead to six, 76-70, with 1:33 to go. On the ensuing possession, the Warriors would miss a pair of free throws, and then another Tiger three-point basket brought the score to 76-73 with just over a minute to go.
On the next possession, the Warriors ran the shot-clock down before giving the ball to Merritt who was still red hot and already had 11 points in the half. Merritt called for an isolation and sized up his defender before shooting a jump shot from behind the arc that was nothing but net, giving the Warriors a 76-70 lead with 42 seconds to go.
The Tigers were still in the game after a pair of free throws cut the lead to four but the Tigers’ tempers got the best of them as their bench and guard Nick Harden both received technical fouls in the waning seconds, effectively sealing the Warriors’ nine-point victory.
The win hopes to ignite new life into a Warriors team that has proven to be talented enough to compete with the best in the GPAC. With teams just reaching the halfway point of the GPAC season, there is still plenty of basketball to be played in 2021.
Midland (4-11, 2-10 GPAC) will be back on the court next Saturday to face Briar Cliff University (10-7, 7-5 GPAC) in a revenge game from their meeting earlier this season where the Warriors lost by just five points. The rematch game will be played be in Sioux City, Iowa at the Newman Flannigan Center with tip-off slated for 4:00 p.m. on January 16.
FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s women’s basketball team fell behind early and couldn’t make up the ground, falling to Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) opponent Dakota Wesleyan University by a score of 67-47 on Saturday afternoon. The game was the fourth in seven days for the Warriors, and the loss moves to them to 11-6 on the year and 8-6 in the league. Dakota Wesleyan improves to 8-5 overall, 6-5 GPAC.
Midland shot 29.1 percent (16-of-55) from the field compared to 46.4 percent (32-of-69) for Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers also outrebounded the Warriors 45-35 and forced 22 turnovers.
Individually, the Warriors were led by sophomore Emma Shepard‘s 15 points off the bench. Junior Peyton Wingert followed with 12 points to go along with five rebounds. Senior Makenna Sullivan was the top rebounder on the day with nine.
The Tigers shot out to an 11-4 lead through the opening five minutes. Wingert answered with a layup to bring the score to 11-6. Shepard scored five points for the Warriors as the score climbed to 17-11 with 2:33 to go. It would be Shepard again, hitting a pair of free throws, to close out the first quarter with Midland down 21-14.
In the second quarter, Dakota Wesleyan came out on a 10-1 run, extending the lead to 31-15 within the first three minutes. Another run for the Tigers brought things to 39-18 before a layup from Erin Prusa slowed the momentum. The Tigers hit a jumper at the buzzer, bringing the score to 43-25 heading into the break.
Dakota Wesleyan was firing on all cylinders and outscored Midland 22-11 in the quarter. Shepard was a bright spot through the first two quarters as she was good for 10 points. Sullivan racked up six rebounds to go along with a block. The Warriors struggled offensively, shooting just 34.6 percent (9-of-26) from the field versus 57.6 percent (19-of-33) for the Tigers in the first 20 minutes of action.
Wingert got the Warriors on track early in the third after knocking down a three for her 10th point of the afternoon. Moments later a steal from Haase resulted in a Sullivan layup, cutting the Tiger lead to 43-30 with 7:25 to go. Turnovers on back-to-back possessions momentarily halted the momentum, but Sullivan came through with a gritty layup to bring the score to 48-32. It would be Sullivan again as the senior drained one from three, bring the score to 48-35 with under five remaining. The Tigers roared back though with buckets on back-to-back possessions, building the lead back up to a comfortable 52-35 advantage. They continued to charge ahead, looking comfortable on Midland’s home court, heading into the final quarter with a 59-39 edge.
Dakota Wesleyan got on the board first in the fourth quarter, hitting a jumper for a 61-39 lead. Erin Prusa responded on the following possession by driving for a layup and her first points of the day. Turnovers continued to take the steam out of Midland’s offense as the deficit grew to 65-41 with seven minutes to go. Neither team could find much success down the stretch as the score stood at 67-44 with 3:17 on the clock. A comeback was insurmountable as time ran out on a 76-47 Dakota Wesleyan win.
Midland (11-6, 8-6) will be back in action on Wednesday as they host the College of Saint Mary for a midweek conference showdown. Tipoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. inside of Wikert Event Center. The Warriors and Flames clashed on January 4, with Midland running away with a 65-57 road win.