SIOUX CITY, Iowa — After celebrating its first national tournament win since 1995 on Wednesday night, 12th-ranked Mount Mercy advanced to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in six national tournament appearances, knocking off fifth-ranked Morningside, 79-72, in front of an estimated 3,000 fans in the second round of the 21st Annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship on Friday at the Tyson Events Center.
The Mustangs (27-8) will play a hometown team for the second night in a row when they face Briar Cliff (24-9) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. After Friday’s win over Morningside, which avenged a 95-64 loss in Sioux City on Nov. 5, Mount Mercy faces a Charger squad that knocked off fourth-ranked Davenport (Mich.), 67-65, in front of a partisan crowd at Tyson Events Center. Mount Mercy and Briar Cliff shared the No. 12 spot in the latest top 25 poll on Feb. 28.
Composure against Morningside’s full-court pressure and another balanced scoring effort keyed Mount Mercy’s upset on Friday. Mount Mercy had 22 turnovers, but withstood Morningside’s late-game push. Mount Mercy also outrebounded Morningside, 45-33, and was 32-of-42 at the free throw line. Morningside struggled to 32.4 percent shooting from the field, including an 11-of-40 showing from 3-point range.
The turning point came with just under nine minutes to go in the second half when Mount Mercy went on a 10-2 run to lead, 62-50, with 6:06 remaining. Everyone in the building knew Morningside had a run left in them, and they used it to get within four, 66-62, with 2:35 left. Free throws by Brooke Quigley and Emily Greiner on Mount Mercy’s next two possessions kept Mount Mercy’s cushion at six points.
Then, after Chelsie Trask brought Morningside back within four, a bucket by Bria Fields sandwiched in between foul shots by Greiner and Becca Lampe put Mount Mercy ahead, 77-67, with 24 seconds to go. Morningside was able to hit a 3-pointer, but two more free throws by Greiner and Micha Mims clinched the Elite Eight berth for Mount Mercy.
Just like they did in Wednesday’s win over Southwestern (Kan.), Fields and Amanda Frost owned the paint. Fields poured in 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Frost finished with six points and 10 boards. Greiner and Quigley added 14 points each and Mims tallied 13 points and seven rebounds. Lampe scored four points and collected four assists and four steals.
Trask scored a game-high 26 points for Morningside, which ended the season at 26-9 overall. Bobbi McManaman had 18 points, Hanna Blum 10. Blum and Brittany Alfredson each grabbed five rebounds. Trask dished out four assists and she, Kalene Anderson and Shelby Beaudette tallied three steals apiece.
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