CRETE, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s basketball team made sure to put this one away early. After trailing entering the fourth quarter of both of last season’s meetings with Doane, the Bulldogs overwhelmed the host Tigers with their nasty press on Wednesday night (Dec. 5). While forcing 38 turnovers, Concordia emerged from the Haddix Center with a 93-53 victory.
It seemed 13th-year head coach Drew Olson’s message got through to the Bulldogs, who were coming off their first defeat of the 2018-19 season. Concordia has improved to 10-1 overall and to 6-1 in conference play.
“I thought our kids did a great job of coming with the right mindset and being really focused,” Olson said. “We did a really good job of not turning the ball over. That was a big emphasis. We were able to play with tempo and get into a little better rhythm offensively.”
The Bulldogs owned just a modest 7-4 lead more than six minutes into action before blowing the game open with a 14-2 surge to close out the opening period. The contest got away from Doane as the turnovers mounted. On four separate occasions in the opening stanza, a Concordia steal led to an immediate layup or 3-point bucket. Not only that, Philly Lammers presented a significant matchup problem for the Tigers. She put up 10 of her 18 points in the first half.
By halftime, the Bulldogs led 43-18 and had already pestered Doane into 24 turnovers. The second half then took on a tone that has not been unfamiliar for either side this season. Still winless in conference play, the Tigers (2-10, 0-7 GPAC) have been beaten by margins of greater than 20 points five times by GPAC opponents.
The night also showcased a nice bounce-back effort by point guard Grace Barry, who was near perfect shooting the ball (6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line). She added a little show time by throwing a reverse layup over her shoulder just before the third quarter buzzer. Barry (15 points, four assists), Delani Fahey (14 points, 5-for-6 from the field), Mackenzie Koepke (13 points, 3-for-4 from 3-point range) and Taylor Cockerill (10 points) joined Lammers in double figures in the scoring column.
Blowout or not, Koepke has earned her playing time. The Lincoln Lutheran grad has been one of the team’s top scorers off the bench. Said Koepke, “It all stems from the team, working hard and putting up shots outside of practice. It’s nice to know that my teammates can trust me to score off the bench.”
This may have been the best collective effort from the Concordia freshmen yet this season. Not only did rookies Fahey and Koepke bomb away for a combined seven 3-point field goals, first-year players Elsie Aslesen (eight points, four rebounds, four steals) and Claire Cornell (six points) also made contributions. Eleven Bulldogs had at least one steal for the nation’s leader in thefts.
“She played really well, and I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Olson said of Koepke. “She knocks down threes and she’s so long defensively. She gives us something that we definitely need on the offensive end. I thought Delani was fantastic too and Elsie came in and gave us really good minutes.”
Doane got a team high 10 points from Haylee Heits. Scoring has been a challenge for the Tigers, who shot 35.4 percent from the floor on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs will be back inside Walz Arena on Saturday where they will seek to begin a new home win streak. Mount Marty (4-6, 1-6 GPAC) will be in town for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff. Concordia has won each of the last four meetings against the Lancers, who were defeated, 64-59, by second-ranked Dakota Wesleyan on Wednesday.