Bulldog basketball visits Dakota Wesleyan Sunday

Bulldog basketball visits Dakota Wesleyan Sunday

Both Concordia men’s and women’s basketball teams will make the trek to Mitchell, S.D., on Sunday for a doubleheader of afternoon contests. Here’s what to expect when the Bulldogs hit the hardwood at Dakota Wesleyan’s Corn Palace.

Women’s Basketball: No. 2 Concordia (18-1, 11-1 GPAC) at Dakota Wesleyan (15-6, 6-5 GPAC), 2 p.m.

Live Webcast | Live Stats

Opponent: Dakota Wesleyan has gone 7-2 and even cracked the national rankings (Jan. 8) since the last time Bulldog fans saw the Tigers at Walz Arena on Dec. 8. Dakota Wesleyan held a 10-point halftime lead at No. 10 Northwestern on Jan. 9 before eventually falling 69-66 to the three-time defending national champs. Second-year head coach Jason Christensen’s squad, currently just a half-game out of fifth place, has been the league’s biggest surprise after being pegged in the preseason to finish eighth. Behind sharpshooting guard Celeste Beck and Amanda Hart, the Tigers lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.5 percent. Beck tops the national leaderboard with 52.3 percent (45-for-86) from beyond the arc, while Hart ranks fifth in NAIA Division II with 59 made 3-point field goals. Junior forward Kim Johnson, who has made 17 of 45 attempts from 3-point range, leads the team with averages of 18.7 points (No. 1 in the GPAC) and 5.3 rebounds per game. The efficient Dakota Wesleyan offensive attack ranks fourth in the league in scoring (74.9 ppg). On the other end, the Tigers rank sixth in scoring defense at 62.3 points per contest. Not only are they one of the nation’s elite 3-point shooting teams, they rank fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.184) and eighth in turnover margin (plus-5.95).

Outlook: According to the Jan. 14 conference ratings, Sunday’s game is a battle between the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the GPAC. Concordia hopes to earn a season sweep of Dakota Wesleyan after a 78-58 victory over the Tigers back on Dec. 8. Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan is 9-1 at home this season with the only loss coming against then No. 3 Morningside, 74-59, on Dec. 5. The Bulldogs are 5-1 on the road and have won 10 of their last 11 GPAC away contests. Last season Drew Olson’s squad picked up a 62-49 victory at Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 10. The Tigers will have to contend with the Bulldogs’ terrific back court that includes Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris. Morris is fifth in the GPAC in scoring (15.0 ppg) and first in steals per game (3.37), while Conahan is sixth in the conference in scoring (14.9 ppg) and second in steals per game (3.32). Concordia will need to get great backcourt play once again if it wants to extend its streak to five-straight wins in the series against Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers have proven a worthy opponent at the Corn Palace.

Men’s Basketball: Concordia (5-13, 2-10 GPAC) at Dakota Wesleyan (9-12, 4-7 GPAC), 4 p.m.

Live Webcast | Live Stats

Opponent: Dakota Wesleyan enters the weekend coming off three-straight losses – all to opponents either ranked or receiving votes in the national poll. The Tigers have shown an ability to compete with the top teams in the conference, as evidenced by their 75-72 win over then No. 8 Doane on Dec. 15 and close 77-74 loss at then No. 7 Northwestern on Jan. 9. Head coach Shane Murphy’s club ranks eighth in the league in scoring offense (76.0 ppg) and 10th in scoring defense (75.8 ppg). Behind sophomore forward Jalen Voss, Dakota Wesleyan is one of the conference’s top shot blocking teams with 73 on the season (third most in the GPAC). Voss is a handful inside and is the GPAC’s only player averaging a double-double with 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. His 1.71 blocks per game are the third most in the conference and his 13 double-doubles are by far the highest total among GPAC players. Murphy employs two additional double-figure scorers in senior guards Aireus Stephenson (13.0) and Mike Lee (11.3). With a team 3-point shooting percentage of 31.4, the Tigers rely more on Voss’ abilities in the post.

Outlook: Head coach Marty Kohlwey’s squad is looking to get back in the win column and end its recent frustrations. Dakota Wesleyan scored a 75-65 victory over the Bulldogs inside Walz Arena on Dec. 8. Lee enjoyed a big day for the Tigers with 25 points on the strength of 13-for-13 free throw shooting. Beau Smith led Concordia with 14 points and eight rebounds. Since then the Tigers are 4-6, including the victory over Doane. Dakota Wesleyan is 5-4 at the Corn Palace while Concordia is 2-5 in road games. These teams are similar in that both have struggled shooting from the perimeter and both feature a top scoring threat in the post. Concordia senior post Porter Birtell tops the team with 14.4 points per game and is just 122 points away from 1,500 for his career. He is nearly automatic once he gets the ball on the block. Birtell ranks second in NAIA Division II with a field goal percentage of 65.6. Kohlwey hopes the Bulldogs can get hot from the outside to open up more room for Birtell and senior forward Brent Houchin to operate in the paint.

19 January 2013