FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s women’s basketball team resumed conference play on Wednesday after a three-game break from Great Plains Athletic Conference opponents, facing Briar Cliff University in another all-too-common conference nail-biter.
The No. 24 Warriors (9-7, 4-6 GPAC) and the (RV) Chargers (10-8, 4-6 GPAC) went toe-to-toe for much of the evening, but it was Briar Cliff who came out on top with a 74-68 victory to start 2019.
The Chargers got productive games from Taylor Wagner and Alyssa Carley, who finished with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Wagner was 6-11 from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line while adding eight rebounds and three assists to her stat line. Carley made just three field goals, all three-pointers, but was 9-10 from the free throw line. She also contributed six rebounds, one assists, and one steal.
Midland kept pace by way of a balanced scoring attack that saw four players score in double figures. Senior Maddie Egr led the way with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and a steal.
Maddie Meadows, Amanda Hansen, and Lexis Haase followed closely behind, scoring 12, 11, and 10 points, respectively.
The Warriors led for nearly the entire first half after starting the game fast with a 13-4 run over the first five minutes. Briar Cliff responded and finished the quarter on a 9-0 run to leave the score tied at 13-13 after the first period of play.
Midland held a steady lead throughout the second quarter, with the largest lead of the quarter being just a five-point advantage. The Warriors entered the halftime break with a slim 28-27 lead.
Tides changed in favor of the Chargers in the third quarter as they outscored the Warriors 25-15. Foul trouble played a factor as the best offensive lineup for Midland didn’t spend much time on the floor, especially in the final five minutes of the third quarter.
The Warriors managed to cut into the Briar Cliff lead slowly down the stretch of the fourth quarter as a 7-0 run turned an 11-point lead for the Chargers into just a four-point differential. But, Midland couldn’t get enough stops on defense to get closer than four, and when Midland was forced to foul, the Chargers went 6-6 from the free throw line in the game’s final minutes to secure the 74-68 win.
All four of Briar Cliff’s conference wins in 2018-19 have come on the road, an impressive feat in the always-difficult GPAC.
As mentioned, fouls were a prominent factor in the game. In total, the teams were whistled for 51 total fouls, resulting in 59 total free throw attempts. Briar Cliff was 28-36 (77.8 percent) from the line while Midland was 14-23 (60.9 percent). There were also 41 total turnovers in the game, many of which being traveling calls. The Warriors benefited off of 24 Charger turnovers and converted them into 27 points.
No game in the GPAC is easy, and factors like home-court advantage and rankings are more like non-factors in this league. With the non-conference schedule completed for the Warriors, each night out from here on is going to present a challenge.
Midland travels north this weekend to play University of Jamestown (10-8, 4-6 GPAC) on Saturday, January 5. It will be the first time the two teams meet at conference foes, as the only other meeting finished in favor of Jamestown in 2013. Tipoff this Saturday is set for 2:00 p.m. in Jamestown, North Dakota.