SIOUX CITY, Iowa - In the Bruins' second-straight contest against a top-15 opponent, the Bellevue University women's basketball team dropped a hard-fought 78-74 decision at eighth-ranked Morningside College Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center.
The loss dropped the Bruins to 10-5 on the season. Morningside improved to 8-4 overall.
Morgan Cuffe (16) and Elexis Martinez (15) combined for 31 points to lead the BU offense. Cuffe went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in the loss, while Martinez grabbed seven rebounds. Laura Jurek narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Taylor Rodenburgh led four Mustangs in double figures, finishing with 19 points, to go along with three rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Mustangs scored the final four points of the first quarter to take an 18-13 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
Trailing by seven, Martinez scored five points in a 7-0 BU run as the Bruins tied the contest at 25-25 with 4:57 remaining before the intermission. Four-straight points from Taeha Pankey gave BU its largest lead of the first half at 33-30 at the 1:15 mark.
Rodenburgh drained a pair of free throws just before the halftime buzzer as the two teams went into the break knotted at 34 apiece.
Martinez led the Bruins in the first half with nine points and two rebounds. Kailey Burke (11) and Rodenburgh (8) combined for 19 points to pace the MC offense.
After a pair of free throws by Jurek gave BU a seven-point advantage at 45-38 with 5:53 left in the third frame, the Mustangs scored 12-straight points and closed the quarter on a 20-7 run to take a 58-52 lead heading into the final quarter.
The two teams traded seven-point runs to open the fourth quarter as Morningside led 65-59 at the 6:49 mark. Three-straight free throws by Cuffe brought BU to within three points at 65-62 with 3:58 remaining before the Mustangs built an eight-point lead following two free throws from Rodenburgh to make it 70-62 with 2:34 remaining in the game.
A furious comeback sparked by Cuffe's four points as well as steals by Cuffe and Shayla Dean drew BU to within two points at 74-72 with 13 seconds remaining. Sierra Mitchell, however, sealed the MC victory with four free throws in the final 10 seconds to preserve the 78-74 victory for the Mustangs.
The Bruins will host the Fairfield Inn & Suites Bruin Classic on Dec. 28-29 in the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.