116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Moran Lonning came home and patched the Luther women's basketball team together.
Lonning and Luther (20-4, 10-3) play Dubuque (16-8, 10-3) for the Iowa Conference title Saturday at Dubuque. The winner claims the outright league crown and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The loser falls to the No. 3 seed if Coe (16-8, 9-4) beats Buena Vista (8-16, 3-10) Saturday.
The top two seeds in the conference tournament receive first-round byes into the semifinals. The tournament starts Tuesday. Semifinals are Thursday and the championship next Feb. 28. The higher seeded team hosts throughout.
It's a possible worst-to-first tale for Luther. The Norse finished last in the league last season and failed to qualify for the conference tournament.
'It's a big jump,' Luther Coach Amanda Bailey said. 'In my mind we underachieved last season.'
Enter Lonning, who red-shirted as a freshman and then spent two seasons on the bench at the University of Northern Iowa before deciding to go home to Decorah, where she was a prep standout.
She has flourished in her return, averaging a team-high 14.2 points, shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range and dishing out five assists per game.
'(Lonning) is the glue that we needed,' Bailey said. 'Whatever we have needed her to do, she has done. She makes every player better.'
Lonning's play has enabled senior Meagan Koepnick to move from point to off guard and she is the team's No. 2 scorer with a 12.2 average. Senior Carrie Kilen, a nursing student who sat out the 2013-14 season because of class commitments, averages a team-high 7.7 rebounds.
'We didn't set traditional goals this year,' Bailey said. 'It was important for us to define who we are and to do that on a daily basis, not just in practice. We knew if we worked hard we could be where we're supposed to be.
'We're where we want to be.'
Mustangs win title
The Mount Mercy men shrugged off their first loss since November and beat St. Ambrose, 88-79, Wednesday night to win the Midwest Collegiate Conference.
The 13th-ranked Mustangs (23-4, 10-1) earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament and will host a semifinal game next Friday Feb. 27. If it wins, Mount Mercy would host the championship game on March 1.
The conference title is the first for Mount Mercy since 1996 and only its second in MCC history. The Mustangs are bidding for their third NAIA Division II tournament berth, their second in three years.
Mount Mercy closes out the regular season at home Saturday against Grand View (15-11, 6-5).
The Buena Vista men (18-6, 11-2) clinched the Iowa Conference title Wednesday in a 94-80 win over Dubuque that dropped the Spartans (19-5, 9-4) into a second-place tie with Coe. The Kohawks (15-9, 9-4) can claim the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a win over BV in Saturday's finale at Eby Fieldhouse. A Coe loss gives Dubuque the No. 2 seed ... The Luther men (9-15, 5-8) have qualified for the Iowa Conference tournament and will be seeded either fifth or sixth.
The Upper Iowa men (15-11, 11-9) need one win in their last two games — or a Winona State loss — to clinch fourth place in the Northern Sun Conference South and a home court first-round tournament game next week. The Peacocks host NCAA Division II No. 2 Augustana (25-1, 19-1) tonight and Wayne State (7-19, 4-16) Saturday. ...
The Mount Mercy women (16-13, 7-4) suffered only their second loss in their last nine games Wednesday at St. Ambrose, but it cost the Mustangs a shot at the Midwest Collegiate Conference crown. Mount Mercy can claim the No. 3 seed in the league tourney with a win over Grand View (13-16, 9-2) Saturday. ...
The Cornell women (14-8, 12-5) are among three teams vying for the final two spots in the Midwest Conference postseason tournament with one game left in the regular season. The Rams are in with a win at league champion St. Norbert (19-3, 16-1) Saturday, or with losses by either Illinois College (14-8, 11-6) or Lake Forest (12-10, 11-6). ...
The Grinnell men (13-9, 11-6) have clinched a berth in the Midwest Conference tournament next weekend at DePere, Wis. ...
The No. 9 Kirkwood men (21-5, 7-2) remain one game behind No. 2 DMACC (22-4, 8-1) in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division II race and get a rematch at Boone on Wednesday. ...
The No. 7 Kirkwood women (22-5, 10-1) hold a one-game lead over No. 6 NIACC (20-5, 9-2) in the ICCAC DII race with three games left in the regular season.