FREMONT, Neb. – The Great Plains Athletic Conference may just be the best basketball conference in the NAIA, and two ranked opponents showed us why on Saturday afternoon.
No. 24 Midland University and the No. 13 Dordt College needed an extra five minutes to decide a winner in their top-25 matchup, as Dordt (11-4, 6-3 GPAC) narrowly edged Midland (7-6, 4-5 GPAC) 94-93 in overtime.
Trailing by three on their final possession, the Warriors were unable to get a good look from behind the three-point line. Senior Maddie Egr drove the lane for two points, hoping there would be enough time on the clock to foul again and get another look. But with less than a second on the clock, it was too little too late.
It was a total team effort as six Warriors scored in double figures, including three starters and three players off the bench. Egr and senior point guard Madison Severson tied for the team lead with 16 points, each making seven field goals in the game.
Annie Rhinesmith led the Defenders with 26 points on seven made field goals and by going 8-10 from the free throw line. The talented guard did it all for Dordt, as she also finished with nine assists, six rebounds, and five steals.
Erika Feenstra, the leading scorer in NAIA Division II, finished with 22 points and seven rebounds after having a quiet 15 points in the first half. Midland held Feenstra nearly five points below her season average, which was at 26.9 points per game entering Saturday.
The Warriors started the game on an impressive 9-0 run and held the Defenders to just two made field goals in the first quarter, as Midland led 22-14 after the first 10 minutes. Junior Amanda Hansen record two early fouls in loose ball situations that sidelined her for the rest of the first half.
Midland’s offense continued to click, even without Hansen, as the Warriors stayed ahead of the Defenders for the whole second quarter, growing their lead to as many as 12 before taking an 11-point lead into halftime.
Dordt used the halftime break to make adjustments on offense and climbed its way back into the game. The Defenders erased an 11-point halftime deficit in just seven minutes to take a 56-55 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. The lead changed five more times in the third quarter before a jumper from Severson gave Midland a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Dordt had stolen all momentum and jumped out to a five-point lead before Midland responded with an 11-0 run to go up by six with just under four minutes to play. Dordt tied the game with under a minute to play after an 8-2 run. With 12 seconds left, Rhinesmith sank a free throw to put Dordt up by one.
After a missed three from Severson, Hansen corralled an offensive rebound in the lane and was fouled on her shot attempt with just 0.3 seconds on the clock. Hansen missed her first attempt, but made her second one to force overtime.
Again, Dordt rushed out to a big lead, this time on a 7-0 run, which would eventually become an eight-point advantage at 89-81 with two minutes to play. Midland went on a small 7-1 run to get the game to 90-88 with 31 seconds to play.
The Defenders went 4-4 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds, and after a three-pointer from Lexis Haase, the Warriors trailed 94-91 with 13 seconds left. Unable to find an open shot, Egr’s layup made it 94-93, as a defensive stand from Dordt sealed the victory in an otherwise offense-dominated game.
Free throws were commonplace on Saturday afternoon, as the two teams combined to shoot 67 of them in 45 minutes of play. Dordt was 29-40 (72.5 percent) while Midland finished 20-27 (74.1 percent).
Another close loss is tough to swallow for the Warriors, but that’s life in the GPAC. Top-tier opponents are on the schedule seemingly every week, which just means more opportunities await the Warriors.
Midland, who is now on a break from classes, also gets a break from the grueling GPAC schedule with three nonconference games (one exhibition) to finish out 2018. The Warriors start by hosting the Presentation College Saints (5-7 overall) on Tuesday, December 18. Tipoff at Wikert Event Center is set for 2:00 p.m.