FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s women’s basketball team wasn’t exactly clicking on Wednesday night, but when it was all said and done, the Warriors found a way to gut out a most grotesque victory.
The Warriors (11-7, 6-6 GPAC) did just enough to squeak out a 48-45 victory over the Doane University Tigers (3-16, 0-12) on Wednesday night.
“Offensively we had our struggles today…and we showed there’s a lot to get better at,” commented head coach Shawn Gilbert. “Maybe not so much execution-wise, but we’ve got to make shots.”
Midland shot a season-low 25.4 percent from the field, converting on just 16 field goals out of 63 attempts. Half of the Warriors’ made shots were three pointers as they finished 8-27 (29.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
While the offense wasn’t at its best, it was defense that had to pick up the slack for Midland. The Warriors forced 22 Doane turnovers (12 steals) and converted them into 16 points.
Junior Maddie Meadows led the way for Midland with 11 points on 4-7 shooting from the field, including being 3-6 from three-point range. Meadows also added three rebounds, two blocks, one steal, and one assist to her final stat line.
Meadows stepped in for junior Amanda Hansen and senior Maddie Egr, two players who can normally be found atop the Warrior’s scoring list. On an off night for each of them, the two combined for 18 points, collectively going just 5-20 from the field. The two were the only Warriors that attempted free throws in the game, combining to shoot 6-10 from the line.
Doane’s offense struggled as much as Midland’s as the Tigers finished just 16-50 (32 percent) from the field. Forward Haylee Heits led the way for Doane with 18 points on 7-13 shooting, including 2-5 from three-point range.
Midland outscored Doane 14-7 in the first quarter as five different Warriors contributed points. Katy Gathje and Lexis Haase came off the bench to score the final four points of the quarter, doubling up the Tigers after 10 minutes of play.
Doane began the second quarter on a 6-0 run as Midland’s offense froze. The Warriors didn’t register a field goal until just over four minutes to play in the half, but still managed to carry a 26-20 lead into halftime.
The Tigers, hungry for their first conference win of the season, came out swinging in the second half. Doane used a 9-0 run to take a 35-31 lead and held the Warriors scoreless for nearly the entire final six minutes of the third quarter.
When all seemed lost, an unlikely hero emerged as freshman Sam Shepard connected on a long-range three-pointer in the final minute of the third quarter, ending a long scoring drought and cutting the Doane lead to one to start the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Shepard connected again on a long three-pointer to reclaim the lead for Midland at 37-35. Shepard then assisted on a pair of three-pointers for Meadows as Midland used a 12-1 run to take a 43-36 lead.
Doane slowly crawled back and got to within one point of the lead after a late three-pointer from Heits. After a difficult game, Hansen connected on a pair of free throws with four seconds left, pushing Midland’s lead to 48-45. A missed three-pointer at the buzzer for Mayme Conroy allowed the Warriors to escape with a close, ugly win.
“Doane did a good job of reeling us in and getting back in the game late,” Coach Gilbert added. “Defensively, I thought we played pretty well. If you can hold a team to 45 points you like your chances.”
Shepard finished with six important points and three assists in her 13 minutes. The freshman from Fremont scored or assisted on each of the baskets in Midland’s 12-1 run that swung momentum back in favor of the Warriors to start the fourth quarter.
For the second time this season, the Warriors have to face the best one-two punch in the country as their next two games are against the top two teams in NAIA Division II. Midland plays at No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday, January 13, before traveling to play No. 2 Concordia next Wednesday, January 16.
The Warriors fell to then-No. 2 Dakota Wesleyan 88-59 back on November 10 in just the fifth game of the season. Tipoff for the Saturday rematch with the Tigers (18-1, 11-1 GPAC) in Mitchell, South Dakota is set for 2:00 p.m.