ORANGE CITY, Iowa – For the first 20 minutes on Wednesday, Midland University’s women’s basketball team had the nation’s second-ranked team in panic mode. The final 20 minutes proved to be a different story.
In a true tale of two halves, the Warriors (15-14, 10-12 GPAC) paced the No. 2 Northwestern College Red Raiders (26-3, 19-3 GPAC) throughout the entire first half, but the script flipped in the second half. Northwestern began hitting shots and ran away with a 60-36 win in the GPAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
The Warriors never trailed in the first half of play and took a 24-22 lead into the halftime break. In the first half, Northwestern, the nation’s fourth-best scoring team, was just 8-31 (25.8 percent) from the field and 0-8 from three-point range.
Conversely, the Warriors hadn’t shot the lights out, but were 9-28 (32.1 percent) from the floor and 2-8 (25 percent) from deep.
The third quarter marked the turning point for the Red Raiders, who are difficult to contain for a full game at a time. Northwestern was 6-12 (50 percent) from the field in the third quarter and knocked down three three-pointers. The Red Raiders outscored Midland 19-7 in the period and took a 10-point lead into the final quarter.
Shooting woes that haunted Northwestern in the first half ultimately doomed Midland in the second half. The Warriors scored just five points in the fourth quarter and made just four field goals in the final 20 minutes of play. Midland held Northwestern to a season-low point total for the second game in a row, but the Red Raiders found a way around their own poor shooting efforts.
Northwestern was led by Kassidy De Jong’s 16 points and Sammy Blum’s 13 points. Each of them knocked down three three-pointers, all in the second half of play. The two also combined for 10 rebounds and three assists.
Freshman sub Lexis Haase led the way for Midland with 13 points. Haase concluded a breakout season for the Warriors by adding three rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and one assist to her stat line.
Behind her was senior Maddie Egr, who in her final game as a Warrior, finished with eight points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, three steals, and an assist. Egr struggled from the floor and was just 2-11 shooting, but never stopped hustling and found other was to try and keep the Warriors in contention.
Senior Madison Severson, the emotional leader and floor general of the Warriors, also played her final game on Wednesday. She finished with two rebounds, one steal, and one assist in her 30 minutes on the floor to conclude an impactful career.
It’s a difficult way for the Warriors to end their season after 2018-19 was filled with so many positives. Playing one of the toughest schedules in the entire country, Midland beat three ranked opponents on the season, with two of those wins being on the road in conference play.
The Warriors also played their way into the Top 25 of the national rankings for two weeks before falling out and receiving votes for two more weeks. Of their 14 losses, only one was to a team that was not ranked or receiving votes.
Seniors-to-be Amanda Hansen and Maddie Meadows will lead the Warriors into next season, and with Haase spearheading a young core that now has a season’s worth of experience, the Warriors appear to be in a good position heading into 2019-20.