The Dordt College Defender men’s basketball team won its first ever Great Plains Athletic Conference Post-Season Tournament Championship with a 75-63 win over the Morningside Mustangs in front of a capacity crowd at the De Witt Gym in Sioux Center, Iowa. The Defenders jumped in front from the start and never trailed in winning their 26th game of the season and seventh game in a row.
Back to back buckets by Kyle Lindbergh started the scoring for Dordt and at teh 14:39 mark the Defenders were up 17-3 when Cliff Warner hit his second three-point basket of the contest. Morningside whittled teh difference down to 11 but Dordt had an answer as they roared to a 37-17 advantage with a pair of Chris Sievers free throws at the 6:23 mark.
“Our fans got behind us and made it really loud at the start of the game and we built momentum,” said Dordt College coach Ross Douma.
Morningside mounted another charge, this time getting the lead down to 42-30 on baskets by Tanner Ferguson and Tyler Johnson but Dordt netted two baskets in a row to close the half up 46-30.
“It was a great start but we had to stay focused. A good team like Morningside is going to make several runs at you,” said Douma.
A Tanner Miller bucket at the 14:26 mark of the game made the score 54-44 but Dordt went on a 6-0 run with Lindbergh again supplying a pair of baskets around a Jordan Vogel bucket. Morningside got the difference to nine at the 9:05 mark when Danny Rudeen converted one of the Mustangs’ three, three-point baskets of the game to make it 62-53. Dordt stretched the lead out to 14 on a pair of baskets by Trevor Wolterstorff and a Vogel field goal with a free throw. The Mustangs had one more charge in them to get it down to eight but Dordt took care of the ball, converting six of eight free throws in the final 2:34 to seal the 75-63 win.
Dordt 27-49 from the floor for 55.1 percent and made 24-31 two-point shots. The Defenders also converted 18-22 free throws. Morningside was limited to 28-68 shooting for 41.2 percent and she was 4-7 on free throws. Dordt held a commanding rebounding edge of 40-25 but turned the ball over 19 times to nine for the visitors.
“I thought we got out and defended the perimeter very well,” said Douma.
Trevor Wolterstorff and Jordan Vogel had 16 each to pace the Defenders and both had eight rebounds with Vogel going 7-7 from the floor. Kyle Lindbergh added 13 points while going 6-6 from the field and had five rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. Cliff Warner scored ten, had seven rebounds and five assists against one turnover and Austin Katje scored eight. Shawn Keizer was good for seven points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Morningside was topped by Danny Rudeen with 17 points and Kyle Nikkel scored 14 with seven rebounds. Trent Miller and Tanner Miller had 13 and 11 respectively.
Dordt earns the automatic berth that goes with the post-season title while Morningside’s run through the tournament ends with an 18-15 mark.
The NAIA Division II Men’s National Basketball Tournament field will be announced by 4:00 Wednesday afternoon, February 27 and the 32-team bracket will be released at 7:15 pm. Northwestern secured the GPAC’s first automatic bid by way of the regular season championship.
This was the third straight year Dordt was in the title game, losing on the road to Sioux Falls in 2011 and at home to Northwestern in 2012. Dordt also had title game appearances in 2002 and 2006, losing to Concordia in overtime in 2002 and Morningside in 2006. This will be Dordt’s third trip to the NAIA Division II National Tournament with the previous appearances coming in 2006 and 2012. Dordt also qualified for the single-class NAIA Tournament in 1988.
Story from Mike Byker, Dordt College Sports Information Director