Meant to get to this earlier, but Sunday afternoon was the now annual Mount Marty College vs. University of South Dakota basketball showdown. (The “Highway 50 Showdown” label I’ve been using hasn’t caught on in any PR campaigns…..)
And despite a late MMC surge, USD held on to beat the Lancers 67-52.
But the thing I’ve learned to look for in these MMC vs. USD matchups is not on the court, but in the stands. Traditionally, these games draw a pretty decent crowd to the DakotaDome. And Sunday, I ran into quite a few Mount Marty people (including athletic director Chuck Iverson, who as you can imagine, has allegiances to both sides), as well as the usual Coyote faithful. The listed attendance was 1,225, and unlike some of these non-conference games, this actually felt like 1,225 people.
Few quick thoughts from the game & atmosphere:
** USD senior Jasmine Mosley scored a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. She had seven points in the game’s first five minutes and never really let up. The Lancers had no real answer for Mosley, who can cause matchup problems for teams — one trip down court she’ll be a guard, and the next she might post up.
** Another huge game from USD sophomore Amber Hegge, a Crofton, Neb. native. Hegge recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Coyote win. At times, she was dominant against the Lancer defense. The thing to watch with Hegge in her ongoing development is the scoring mentality — she’s USD’s “go-to” player this season.
** The Coyotes led 39-24 at halftime, but like I told my P&D colleague Mike Keitges (who was at the game), if the Lancers could pull within 10 points they could have a legitimate chance. And two minutes into the second half, the USD lead had been trimmed to 42-33. And four minutes later, it was 47-42. At that point, the Lancers were the ones pushing the tempo and giving the Coyotes fits. And a jumper by Kylie Gross at the 10:53 mark pulled MMC to within 47-46. From there, USD put its foot down and ran away from the visiting Lancers.
** Gross was the story for Mount Marty. The Yankton native scored 19 points and pulled down six rebounds against a long Coyote defense. MMC head coach Tom Schlimgen has talked at length about wanting to get more consistent performances from the team’s post players, and Gross showed signs of being able to do that.
** OK, something else I wanted to mention briefly. On a few occasions Sunday, I overheard a few people saying they knew nothing about the Lancers. And at one point, I even got this question: “Are they any good?” Now, I don’t mean to sound like a PR representative for MMC, but the Lancers are again putting together a nice season and getting little recognition for it. Sounds strange to say, but Mount Marty is getting more national props (No. 7 in the nation) than statewide respect (some media outlets had basic facts wrong, like who the Lancers lost to, their ranking, names in photos, etc.).
At any rate, I still maintain this should stay an annual basketball game. You not only have two traditionally competitive programs, but fans in both Vermillion and Yankton come out to watch.