FREMONT, Neb. – Balanced offense and sound defense led the Midland University women’s basketball team to a 72-43 win over Briar Cliff University in Great Plains Athletic Conference action on Saturday afternoon. Midland improves to 6-11 on the year with a 2-7 mark in GPAC play while Briar Cliff falls to 4-13, 1-8 GPAC.
“I was pleased today with the way we responded today after a disappointing loss on Thursday,” said head coach Shawn Gilbert. “I challenged our kids yesterday in practice to play with more intensity on the defense end. I felt like they took it to heart and it was the difference in the game.”
Midland shot 35.1 percent (26-of-74) from the field compared to 36.6 percent (15-of-41) for Briar Cliff. The Warriors outrebounded the Chargers 37-24 with an outlandish 20-3 edge in offensive boards. Midland converted for 17-second chance points and committed just 12 turnovers versus 24 for Briar Cliff. Sophomore Lexis Haase led the Warriors with 14 points to go along with three steals. Sophomore Sam Shepard recorded 11 points and three rebounds. Junior Katy Gathje led all players with 10 rebounds while chipping in eight points. Freshman Lexi Kraft dished out seven assists and senior Amanda Hansen ran away with five steals.
“Our offense has better better as of late, we rebound the basketball well,” added Coach Gilbert. “We need our defense to respond in the same fashion.”
Briar Cliff got out to an early lead before a three from Hansen and layup by Gathje tied things up at 7-7 with 6:29 on the clock. The Warriors maintained control of the ball for the remained of the first quarter as an 11-point run would close out the quarter with an 18-7 lead. The run featured threes from Sam Shepard and Haase as well as a layup by Prusa. Midland forced four Briar Cliff turnovers through the final five minutes of the quarter.
Sam Shepard would pick up right where she left off as a layup and three gave the Warriors a 23-12 lead with seven minutes to go. Six-straight points saw Midland climbing to their largest lead of the contest after a Gathje layup gave her team the 29-14 edge. Briar Cliff would put away a pair of free throws, but another turnover would see Haase dropping in a layup as time expired. The Warriors would carry a 34-16 lead heading into the break.
The Chargers came out of the break with renewed energy and put up five-straight before free throws from Gathje got Midland back in the game. Defense ruled much of the third quarter as neither team could find their rhythm for a good portion of the quarter. With three minutes to go Kraft hit two free throws to bring the lead back to 18 points. Free throws by Haase brought the score to 46-29 heading into the final quarter.
The Warriors struck early in the fourth quarter with a Haase jumper, but neither team would score for the next two minutes. Sam Shepard got the offense flowing again with a three to give Midland a commanding 51-29 lead with 7:50 to go. It would be Shepard again as another ball from beyond the arc saw the Warriors up 54-31. Long shots continued to fly as seniors Jada Simpson and Maddie Meadows would hit a pair to extend the lead to 60-33 with under five minutes to play. A 12-2 run by Midland put things very much out of reach, and the Warriors ran away with the 72-43 victory despite late efforts by the Chargers.
Midland (6-11, 2-7 GPAC) wraps up the homestand with a conference matchup against Doane University on Wednesday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m. Midland has won five-straight against Doane with last years wins coming by way of 48-45 and 66-47 scores.