FREMONT, Neb. – Midland gave the top-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball a push early on, but hanging with the Bulldogs for the full 40 minutes is no easy task. Eventually Concordia wore down the Warriors with pressure and put it away with a couple of back-breaking buckets down the stretch from point guard Grace Barry. Colby Duvel added the punctuation with a trey in the final minute of an 83-65 Bulldog victory in Fremont, Neb., on Tuesday night (Nov. 6).
Thirteenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has played two ranked teams in the early going, but this was as challenging of a test as it has faced so far. Concordia, now 5-0, also had revenge on its mind having suffered its only 2017-18 regular-season loss at Midland.
“I thought Midland did a really good job breaking down our zone,” Olson said. “They took care of the ball really well and they hit shots. I felt like they played harder and were tougher than us in the first quarter. It was a little bit of us freaking out because we weren’t turning them over as much as other opponents. I thought our kids did a nice job of settling down in the second half.”
The Bulldogs trailed by a point after the first quarter, but they got the better of the Warriors (3-1, 0-1 GPAC) in each of the final three periods. Barry has become the team’s steadying force. She posted 16 points and dished out four assists without a single turnover. She came through with two key fourth quarter buckets at a time when Midland still had a glimmer of hope.
“She can get us going because she can create at any time,” Olson said. “We’re just trying to get her to be more aggressive looking to score herself. She’s starting to buy into that a little more. I just thought she did a great job controlling the tempo of the game and balancing her scoring and distributing.”
There was no chance Olson’s squad was going to overlook the Warriors after suffering an 86-77 loss in Fremont back on Jan. 31. Midland has also opened some eyes early this season by knocking off Central Methodist University (Mo.), which is ranked 11th in NAIA Division I. Former Bulldog Maddie Egr had a solid evening, turning in 16 points and nine rebounds. Amanda Hansen added 15 points.
But it was going to take an extra special effort to take down Concordia. It used double-figure point performances from five players to pull away. Senior Quinn Wragge topped all scorers with 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the floor. Others to reach 10 or more were Barry, Philly Lammers (11), Taryn Schuette (11) and Taylor Cockerill (10).
The Bulldogs entered the evening averaging a gaudy 41.8 turnovers forced per game. That number was not going to hold all season long. Midland did a commendable job in turning it over only 21 times. Concordia was even better, giving it away just seven times. That’s the type of focus needed to win comfortably on the road in the GPAC.
“We were much more focused, knowing that this team is capable of beating us,” Olson said. “Revenge plays in the mind a little bit. I think the returners passed that down to our newcomers.”
Another road test is coming up on Saturday when the Bulldogs will head to Sioux City, Iowa, to take on Briar Cliff (3-0). Tipoff from the Newman Flanagan Center is set for 2 p.m. CT. The Chargers have already taken down two ranked opponents: No. 4 Saint Xavier University (Ill.) and No. 18 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.).