CRETE, Neb. – Midland University took to the hardwood in Crete, Nebraska on Wednesday night as they faced Doane University in a Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) matchup. The Warriors took an early lead and led for the majority of the game, but were unable to secure the victory and fell 68-64 to the Tigers. Midland falls to 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the GPAC while Doane picks up their first conference win and improves to 4-5 overall and 1-3 in the GPAC.
The Warriors came out strong in the first seven minutes of the opening half. Seven different players scored as they took the lead at 5-2 and never trailed in the opening half. The flurry of points from a multitude of players helped the team jump out to a quick lead. A three-pointer by Laurence Merritt put the Warriors up 17-8 at the 13:11 mark of the first half.
After back-to-back three-point baskets by the Tigers, Merritt took matters into his own hands. The senior guard went on a tear, scoring 13 consecutive points and 16 of the Warriors’ final 21 points of the half. He would go quiet in the second half but still finished with a game-high 21 points on the night.
Merritt’s effort helped push the Warriors’ advantage up to 14, giving them a 40-26 lead going into halftime, their largest lead of the game.
To start the second half, the Warriors were powered by junior Emmanuel Bryson’s aggression as he scored seven consecutive points for the Warriors, highlighted by a tough and-one lay-up. Leading 45-33, the Warriors began to lose their footing and untimely turnovers would help the Tigers go on a 14-5 run to cut the lead to 50-47 at the 12:46 mark.
The two sides would then trade baskets down the stretch. With 3:54 left, Doane worked their way back event at 62 all. The two teams would be tied once more, at 64, with 2:28 left.
Free throws would give Doane a two-point lead and then after failing to connect on a few good looks, the Warriors got one final opportunity with 12 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Jake Rueschhoff stole the ball from the Tigers and raced up the court to pass the ball off to freshman Colby Tichota who found Merritt open on the perimeter for a great look. The three-point attempt, that would’ve given Midland the lead, fell just short. Doane would grab the rebound and a pair of free throws pushed the deficit to four, sealing the comeback win for the Tigers.
“Once again we didn’t value the ball at the level we needed in crunch time,” said head coach Oliver Drake. “Giving up 20 points off of turnovers isn’t going to win games in the GPAC or anywhere.”
The Warriors will be back on the court Friday and Saturday this week inside Wikert Event Center. They’ll take on Oak Hills Christian College at 4:00 p.m. on December 4 and Morningside College at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. The non-conference matchup with the Wolfpack was added earlier this week.