Morningside added the GPAC Post-Season Tournament Championship to its regular season GPAC title when the second-ranked Mustangs edged No. 8 Northwestern 78-73 on GPAC Championship Tuesday in the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center.
The Mustangs defeated the three-time reigning NAIA Division II National Champion Red Raiders for the third time this season and for the sixth time in a row dating back to last season.
Morningside improved its record to 28-4 and will take a 12-game winning streak into the upcoming NAIA Division II National Tournament slated for March 6-12 in Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena. Northwestern had an eight-game winning streak snapped and will take a 23-7 record into the national tourney.
Shelby Beaudette, who beat Northwestern with last second shots twice during the regular season, led the Mustangs with 16 points behind a seven-for-11 shooting performance from the field. Although the Mustangs didn’t need another last second shot from Beaudette to win the game, the Mustang senior did provide a key 3-pointer with 24 seconds left after the Red Raiders had crept within 74-73.
Beaudette was one of five Morningside players who scored in double figures. Ashlynn Muhl and Bobbi McManaman each contributed 14 points, Chelsie Trask had 12, and Hanna Blum had 11. The Mustangs completed their scoring summary with six points from Jordyn Wollenburg and five from Leann Osten. The 14 points by McManaman was her fifth double figure scoring performance off the bench in the last seven games.
Northwestern, which entered the game second nationally in team rebounding margin, won the board battle 43-30 to outrebound the Mustangs for the first time in their three contests this season. Muhl, McManaman, and Wollenburg shared Morningside honors with four rebounds each, while Northwestern’s Kendra De Jong led all performers with 11 caroms to go along with a game-high 20 points
Trask dealt a game-high six assists, while McManaman and Wollenburg shared game honors with three steals.
Northwestern led by three points on three different occasions early in the first half before Morningside took a 10-9 lead on a layup by Muhl at the 15:54 mark. The Mustangs led for the rest of the half, including a 13-point bulge at one point when a 3-pointer by Beaudette completed a 15-2 Morningside scoring run that put the hosts up 27-14 with 11:23 left in the half.
The Red Raiders went on a 17-7 run of their own to close within 34-31 before Morningside stretched the lead to 40-34 at the intermission.
Northwestern closed within one point four times in the second half, the last two after 3-pointers by Alli Dunkelberger, who scored all 19 of her points in the second half. The Red Raiders crept within one point for the last time when Dunkelberger struck from 3-point range with 43.5 seconds left to make it a 74-73 contest before Beaudette burned the Red Raiders again with her pivotal 3-pointer.
The NAIA Division II Women’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 second automatic bid by way of their runner-up finish in the conference tournament.
Story from Dave Rebstock, Morningside Sports Information