Small College Sports

Western Dubuque grad Morgan Pitz helps Clarke women's basketball 'play as one'

Big fourth quarter helps Clarke defeat Mount Mercy, 64-56

CEDAR RAPIDS — Morgan Pitz is back in a familiar role this season.

The Clarke University sophomore is playing point guard again, a spot she patrolled often during a fantastic four-year varsity career at Western Dubuque High School.

“I am out there to communicate to all my players to get them in the right spot,” Pitz said after Clarke outlasted Mount Mercy, 64-56, in a Heart of America Athletic Conference women’s basketball game Wednesday night at Hennessey Recreation Center. “Lead the floor on offense and defense and just keep our girls together, playing as a team, playing as one.”

Clarke (12-6, 7-6 HoA) — winner of four if its last five games — played its best ball during the final quarter. After surrendering 25 points in the third frame and trailing the Mustangs by as many as eight points at 47-39, Clarke switched to a 2-3 zone defense. The Pride scored the first 10 points and outscored Mount Mercy in the fourth quarter, 17-4.

“We definitely mixed up our defense,” Pitz said. “That helped us a lot and then we just talked. Our biggest problem was not communicating on the rim and on the top of the key, but the more we talked, the more stops we got. It was all in our talking and our hustle.”

Pitz was a two-time Class 4A second team all-state selection at Western Dubuque, which went 93-7 in her four seasons with three state tournament appearances, including two runner-up finishes.

As a Clarke freshman last season, Pitz averaged 10.2 points a game as she played off the ball. This year at point guard, she is averaging more points (12.8), rebounds (6.9) and assists (2.3).

After being held scoreless through the first three quarters, Pitz scored seven during the pivotal final frame, including a pair of free throws that gave Clarke the lead for good at 53-52 with 7:37 to go.

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“I can’t say enough good things about her,” second-year Clarke Coach Courtney Boyd said. “She just plays with so much confidence and so much poise. She could miss 14 shots and I’m still going to tell her to shoot the 15th. I just have so much faith in what she does and I know she is in it for the right reasons. She is just positive and she is a team player. All she wants to do is win and she doesn’t care how it happens.”

Makenna Haase led all scorers with 18 points for Clarke.

Former Iowa City High prep Sara Blowers and Highland graduate Chelsey Lampe scored nine points apiece for Mount Mercy (5-14, 1-12), which has lost 14 of 16 games since a 3-0 start to its season.

Women’s basketball

AT HENNESSEY REC CENTER

Clarke 64, Mount Mercy 56

CLARKE (64): Makenna Haase 6-7 6-6 18, Tina Ubl 5-12 1-4 11, Faith Begin 2-8 1-1 6, Morgan Pitz 2-7 2-2 7, Kailee VanZeeland 0-3 0-0 0, Skylar Culbertson 0-1 1-2 1, Elyssa Stein 0-0 0-0 0, Natasha Adames 3-5 4-6 11, Emma Liddicoat 2-6 2-2 6, Ariel Spillner 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Ambrosy 0-1 0-0 0, Gillian O’Neil 2-2 0-0 4, Totals 22-52 17-23 64.

MOUNT MERCY (56): Sarah Moffett 3-4 2-3 8, Lakin Goodman 3-8 0-0 8, Paris Sheck 0-0 0-0 0, Chelsey Lampe 3-6 0-0 9, Audrey Mulumba 3-8 0-0 8, Sara Blowers 3-14 0-0 9, Samantha Kitterman 1-3 0-0 2, Chailey Cabalis 0-1 0-0 0, Anna LeGrand 1-3 2-2 5, Aaliyah Brown 3-8 0-0 7, Totals 20-55 4-5 56.

Clarke 19 15 13 17—64

Mount Mercy 22 5 25 4—56

Halftime — Clarke, 34-27. Three-point goals — Clarke 3-17 (Adames 1-1, Pitz 1-4, Begin 1-5, Ambrosy 0-1, Culbertson 0-1, Ubl 0-1, Liddicoat 0-2, VanZeeland 0-2); Mount Mercy 12-38 (Lampe 3-6, Blowers 3-14, Goodman 2-5, Mulumba 2-5, LeGrand 1-2, Brown 1-5, Kitterman 0-1). Rebounds — Clarke 39 (Ubl 9), Mount Mercy 31 (Mulumba 9). Assists — Clarke 14 (Liddicoat 3), Mount Mercy 13 (Mulumba 5). Turnovers — Clarke 22, Mount Mercy 23. Total fouls — Clarke 12, Mount Mercy 18. Fouled out — None.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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