Johanna Vaske had seen it before, but maybe not this bad.
The Briar Cliff sophomore forward had witnessed some bad starts by the Chargers this season, but Wednesday’s was one of the worst. Midland University opened a 32-6 first-quarter lead at the Wikert Event Center.
“We’ve started off kind of rough in some of our games, but I knew we could come back,” she said. “We stayed calm tonight and I think we realized that we had the talent to come back from that deficit and get the win.”
The Chargers used a 17-2 second-quarter run to get back in the game and then outscored MU 44-30 in the second half to earn an 88-79 Great Plains Athletic Conference victory.
Midland dominated the opening 10 minutes. After Julie Targy’s field goal gave the Chargers a 4-2 lead, the Lady Warriors went on a 17-0 run. Megan Kucks, who surpassed 1,000 career points during the game, hit consecutive 3-point baskets during the surge. Amanda Hansen’s 3 put MU up 19-4 with 6:00 left in the opening period.
After Taylor Vasa ended the Chargers’ scoreless drought, MU went on a 13-0 run that was capped by a Maddie Meadows 3. The Lady Warriors’ press flustered the Chargers into a pair of 10-second violations during the run.
“We played really well with high energy to start the game,” Midland coach Shawn Gilbert said. “I felt really good about where we were at, even at the start of the second quarter. We backed out of the press a bit to rest our legs, but they did a good job of continuing to attack us.”
Midland led 35-14 entering the second quarter. Makenna Sullivan of MU hit a field goal to make it 40-18 with 7:41 left in the half, but the Chargers responded with the 17-2 run. Faith Troshynski’s 3 trimmed the deficit to 42-35 with 3:40 left in the half.
Midland didn’t let the Chargers get any closer in the second period and led 49-44 at the break. Briar Cliff got back in it by hitting 13 of 16 shots from the field in the quarter (81.3 percent).
“Our teamwork got us back in it,” said Vaske, who led the Chargers with 29 points and eight rebounds. “We worked as a team and passed the ball more instead of trying to play as individuals.”
Troshynski, who hit all four of her 3-point attempts to score 12 points, hit a trey with 4:30 left in the third quarter to tie it at 59. A 3 by Taylor Wagner gave the Chargers a 65-63 advantage — their first lead since the opening minutes — with 2:15 left in the quarter.
“The big thing for us is that we have to play better defensively,” Gilbert said. “We’ve been in a trend of giving up too many points. They got too many points in the paint and wide open looks at 3s. We’re just not defending at a high level right now.”
The Lady Warriors’ cold shooting in the fourth quarter plagued their comeback hopes. MU was just 4 of 20 from the field.
Hansen led MU with 16 points. Kucks and Maddie Egr had 13 each. Joelle Overkamp had six rebounds and four assists.
MU, 6-6 and 1-4 in the league, host Dordt on Saturday.
Briar Cliff — Abby Heston 6, Johanna Vaske 29, Julie Targy 8, Taylor Wagner 9, Logan Ehlers 11, Taylor Vasa 8, Faith Troshynski 12, CJ Jones 3, Annie Dewberry 2.
Midland — Megan Kucks 13, Amanda Hansen 16, Madison Severson 8, Joelle Overkamp 6, Maddie Egr 13, Makenna Sullivan 6, Maddie Meadows 8, Hiliary Huss 7, Sam Ashinda 2.