SEWARD, Neb. – Per usual, the outcome of a clash between the Concordia University Women’s Basketball program and Dakota Wesleyan hung in the balance until late in the contest. The Bulldogs typically find a way to win. That happened to be the case on Saturday (Feb. 6) as 25th-ranked Concordia made 14 treys and took care of the basketball on the way to a 76-69 victory.
The result was a reversal of the 85-80 loss the Bulldogs suffered earlier this season in Mitchell, S.D. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has won six of its last seven games to move to 16-7 overall and to 15-5 inside the GPAC (second place).
“It was a great effort on both ends tonight,” Olson said. “I loved our focus on the defensive end. We did a great job in the third quarter. I also thought we took care of the ball really well. (Mackenzie) Koepke was fantastic. She did a great job defending (Matti) Reiner and switching out at times on (Haidyn) Pitsch. Willy (Taylor Farrell) and Becca (Higgins) gave us a good lift off the bench, and as always, Taysha (Rushton) and TC (Taylor Cockerill) were big.
“This team continues to show its grit, toughness and competitiveness.”
Like Concordia, DWU has gained traction while figuring out a new-look roster, as compared to 2019-20. Sometimes the formula looks a bit different from game-to-game, but the Bulldogs are going to have a good chance when they are plus-nine in turnovers as they were on Saturday. As gritty as ever, Cockerill chased down 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
Cockerill and company turned the tide back in their favor in the third quarter when they allowed the Tigers just 12 points. The Bulldogs built the lead up to 12 (64-52) at one point in the final period. When Pitsch and the enemy threatened to make a push, Koepke (3:53 mark) and Farrell (2:38 mark) buried clutch 3-point field goals.
“We knew we had to lock in more on defense and get those stops to be able to win,” Farrell said. “We played really good team defense, we talked (on the court) and that was the most important thing.”
What makes Concordia a difficult team to prepare for is its willingness to throw the kitchen sink at an opponent. The Bulldogs are known for constant pressing, but now it is unleashed only on occasion. Once again, they showed man and zone looks on Saturday. Dakota Wesleyan shot 49.1 percent from the field, but it was only 5-for-20 from 3-point range.
Rushton topped all players with 23 points. She knocked down four treys and went 7-of-9 on free throw attempts. Cockerill collected 10 points and five assists as part of her double-double. Koepke added 11 points, three steals and a blocked shot. Bailey Conrad, Farrell, Higgins and Rylee Pauli each chipped in with either seven or eight points apiece. Conrad dished out four assists.
The Tigers (13-8, 11-8 GPAC) had gone toe-to-toe with GPAC regular-season champion Morningside on Wednesday (73-68 loss). DWU went 8-1 during the month of January. It was led on Saturday by the 20 points from Pitsch. Kaylee Kirk booked 14 points. Concordia is 10-2 in its last 12 games versus the Tigers.
In their only outing next week, the Bulldogs will host Hastings (6-15, 5-14 GPAC) in a clash set to tip off at 6 p.m. CT inside Friedrich Arena. In this season’s first matchup, Concordia closed the game on a 9-0 run and eked out a 73-66 victory in Hastings. The Bulldogs have defeated the Broncos in 11 of the past 12 series meetings.
Concordia Women's Basketball vs Dakota Wesleyan https://t.co/Mh0nLa8ck7
— 104.9 Max Country (@1049maxcountry) February 7, 2021