CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — St. Ambrose couldn’t finish what it started Saturday in the semifinals of the Midwest Collegiate Conference women’s basketball tournament.

A buzzer-beating lay-up by Lauren Cash allowed the Queen Bees to lead 12th-rated Mount Mercy 32-30 at halftime, but the Mustangs outscored St. Ambrose 17-7 over the final 2 minutes, 20 seconds to earn a 79-69 victory over the defending conference tourney champs.

The loss ended the Queen Bees’ season at 13-16, the first losing record in the program’s 37-year history.

St. Ambrose, which played the season without injured returning point guard Ashley Dexter, battled the Mustangs from the start of a semifinal which saw the Queen Bees erase an early eight-point deficit before the teams traded the lead 12 times and found themselves tied on 16 occasions.

The last came at 62-62 with 3:11 to play when a free throw by Mount Mercy’s Bria Fields erased the 62-61 lead St. Ambrose had taken on an Annie Smith lay-up 36 seconds earlier.

The Queen Bees turned the ball over on their next two possessions and the Mustangs made St. Ambrose pay, moving ahead to stay on lay-ups by Brooke Quigley and Amanda Frost to gain a 66-62 edge with 2:08 remaining.

Defenses dominated throughout the game, with neither team topping 35 percent from the field.

Smith and Cash came off the bench to lead the Queen Bees, finishing with 19 and 15 points respectively, while freshman Katie Jensen and senior Michelle Charvat combined to grab 21 of the team’s 45 rebounds.

Led by 18 points and 10 rebounds from Micha Mims, Mount Mercy (25-7) will visit top-seeded Grand View (27-5) in Monday’s 7 p.m. MCC title game. The Vikings advanced with a 63-57 win over William Penn.