Ackerman Free Throws Propel Morningside to National Title

basketballSioux City, Iowa – Former Central Lyon stand out Lexi Ackerman made two free throws with two seconds left to lift top ranked Morningside to a 59-57 victory against Number 3 Concordia in Tuesday’s NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship Game at Tyson Events Center Gateway Arena in Sioux City.

The win avenged the Mustangs only setback in a 37-1 season after they had lost 80-72 against the same Bulldogs in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Tournament Championship Game back on March 3.

Concordia finished with a record of 35-3, with all three losses coming against Morningside.

Morningside won its fourth NAIA II National Championship during the Jamie Sale coaching era, joining its previous title teams of 2004, 2005, and 2009.

The Mustangs had to overcome adversity to win their latest title, as they posted all five wins playing without their most decorated player. Three-time first-team All-GPAC forward Ashlynn Muhl, underwent season-ending surgery one day before the tournament began.

Junior forward Jessica Tietz, stepped up in her spot and was named the tournament’s MVP after she led the Mustangs with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the title game for her second double-double of the tournament. Lexi Ackerman joined her in double figures with 14 points.

Morningside trailed by seven points, 38-31, early in the second half and was down by four points, 57-53, with just 1:56 left to play after the Bulldogs’ Jericca Pearson scored on a three off an offensive rebound.

The Mustangs closed within 57-56 when Tietz turned an offensive rebound into a conventional 3-point play with 1:27 left, and then tied the score at 57-57 when Tietz made one of two free throws with 55.8 seconds left.

The Mustangs’ defensive followed with a huge stop when the shot clock ran out on Concordia. That set the stage for the former Central Lyon stand out Ackerman, who was fouled with two seconds left on a drive to the basket and then made both free throws to account for the closest winning margin in NAIA II Championship Game history.