SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Midland University’s women’s basketball was starting to become a mystery in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. No one was ever quite sure what to expect from the Warriors on a game-by-game basis.
On Saturday, they showed us all that there’s one thing that we can always count on them for: perseverance.
The Warriors (15-11, 10-10 GPAC) put recent shooting struggles behind them and managed to pull off a 71-64 road upset against the No. 12 Dordt College Defenders (19-9, 12-8 GPAC).
Despite 19 turnovers and zero points off turnovers (Dordt also had 19 giveaways), the Warriors found a way to fend off a late comeback attempt from the Defenders to notch their second road win over a ranked opponent this season (63-58 at No. 8 Morningside).
One big discrepancy in the team statistics is Midland’s 33-11 advantage in bench points, led by emerging freshman Lexis Haase.
Haase finished with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds, and three steals to help lift the Warriors to the upset victory. Freshman Sam Shepard came off the bench and helped Haase and the Warriors out, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Senior Maddie Egr and junior Amanda Hansen finished in double figures with 16 and 12 points, respectively, combining to shoot a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line.
Dordt was led by Rachel Evavold’s 20 points on 8-14 shooting. The junior forward also added four assists, three rebounds, two steals, and a block to her final stat line. Annie Rhinesmith was the other Defender in double figures as she netted 15.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the game was Midland’s ability to make Erika Feenstra a non-factor. The nation’s second-leading scorer averages 22 points per game, but finished with just nine on Saturday, shooting just 2-4 from the field. It’s only the second time this season she’s been held to single-digit points.
In the first quarter, the game saw four ties as Dordt led for nearly the entire 10 minutes. Midland took a four-point lead midway through the second quarter on back-to-back three-pointers from Shepard, and the Warriors never relinquished the lead again.
Midland took a six-point lead into the locker room and then rode that momentum all the way through the third quarter, outscoring the Defenders 21-15 in the period to take a 12-point lead into the fourth.
Like good teams do, the Defenders didn’t go away without putting up a fight on their home floor. Dordt started the fourth quarter on a 14-4 run and crept to within two points of the lead.
The game went scoreless for nearly two minutes after the run, and with just over a minute left to play, a basket from Hansen put Midland back ahead by four.
After a missed three-pointer, Dordt was forced to begin fouling, and the Warriors put the game on ice, converting all eight of their free throw attempts in the final minute to hold on for the upset win. Midland shot 90.5 percent (19-21) from the line in the game.
The Warriors hadn’t been shooting the ball as well as they would have liked, and after a recent skid that led to them losing all votes on the coaches poll, this game gets them back on track to playing the type of basketball they know they’re capable of. Hopefully, this is a sign that Midland is prepared to peak at the right time.
Just two games remain for the Warriors in the regular season, and just one final road game awaits them on Wednesday when they travel to play the No. 24 Hastings College Broncos (16-11, 11-9 GPAC). Then-No. 12 Hastings beat Midland 70-65 in the season’s first meeting in Fremont on November 28. Tipoff for the rematch on February 13 is set for 6:00 p.m.