SIOUX CITY, Iowa – There may have been some offensive struggles on Wednesday night (Feb. 6), but the top-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team packed a defense on the road. The Bulldogs forced 28 more turnovers and stifled host and 14th-ranked Morningside, 69-53, inside the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center. The win avenged one of Concordia’s three losses this season.
Thirteenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has no margin for error left in the race for a GPAC title after falling at No. 2 Northwestern last week. The Bulldogs (24-4, 16-3 GPAC) remain in a three-way tie in the loss column with Dakota Wesleyan and Northwestern at the top.
“It was ugly basketball, both teams, in that first half,” Olson said. “The second quarter we got tentative with the lead as opposed to doing what you do – be aggressive and play every possession. Hopefully our kids can keep getting better in that way. We can’t keep having big runs against us against great teams.
“I thought both (Philly Lammers and Quinn Wragge) were way more aggressive today. Morningside plays a really good zone, but I thought we did a nice job in the second half of getting the ball to the high post. Philly was more effective down low and we did a great job communicating to make adjustments.”
When the offense is functioning at less than peak efficiency, it’s not a bad idea to lean upon a first team All-American. Lammers pulled her team out of a funk. The critical stretch in this contest came during the third quarter when the Bulldogs were forced to respond to a Mustang run. Concordia turned a 31-29 deficit into a 49-35 lead with a 20-4 run that featured six points and a pair of steals from Lammers alone.
Junior Riley Sibbel, most known for her ability as a defender, ensured that there would be no Morningside rally in the fourth quarter. The O’Neill, Neb., native dropped home a trio of treys in a three-minute stretch that staked the Bulldogs to their largest lead of 19. The 46-point second half for Concordia was a breath of fresh air following an unsightly first half of shooting by both squads.
“She was awesome today,” Olson said of Sibbel. “Her job is to defend. She does such a good job of that. If she can put in a three here and there it’s a bonus. For her to knock down four threes was huge for us.”
The Mustangs (18-9, 10-9 GPAC) have now dropped five of their last six outings. Only in brief moments were they able to string together successful offensive possessions on Wednesday. Sydney Hupp did her part by netting 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the floor. The rest of the team went a combined 11-for-37 from the floor. As a team, Morningside shot 38.8 percent overall and made only 4-of-26 tries from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs were able to win by a 16-point margin on an evening when Cockerill went 3-for-18 from the field against the zone. On the plus side, Lammers put up an impressive stat line of 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals. Sibbel finished with 14 points and four steals while making 4-of-5 3-point attempts. Quinn Wragge added 10 points and eight rebounds and Mackenzie Koepke chipped in with nine points off the bench. Grace Barry dished out nine assists.
A rivalry that has increased in intensity in recent years will be renewed on Saturday when the Bulldogs host No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan (24-3, 17-3 GPAC) at 2 p.m. CST. In the first meeting that took place on Dec. 15, Concordia rallied from an early deficit for an 82-68 victory inside the Corn Palace. It remains the Tigers’ only home loss of the season. Dakota Wesleyan will be playing its fourth game in eight days. It won a four-overtime battle at Jamestown on Monday.