Bethel outlasts seventh-ranked Concordia in Lone Star shootout

Bethel outlasts seventh-ranked Concordia in Lone Star shootout

SAN ANTONIO – A matchup of high-scoring, high-ranking teams produced exactly the kind of game that one would have expected in a battle in San Antonio, Texas. NAIA Division I 10th-ranked Bethel University (Tenn.) showed off plenty of firepower in earning a 99-92 victory over the seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team, which fell to 12-3 overall.

Monday’s game was the first of two for the Bulldogs at the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic.

“We grinded,” eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “We changed some things defensively but we just couldn’t get the stops when we needed them. Bethel is an incredible team. They have great shooters, great penetrators. I was happy that we put ourselves in position to win even after getting down double digits.”

The Wildcats (9-4) got huge nights from their stars in Tayla Foster (33 points, 15 rebounds) and Katie VanDyke (24 points). The duo helped Bethel construct leads as large as 11 in the first half and 13 in the second half. But Concordia kept coming.

The Bulldogs twice pulled within three points in the final two minutes, doing so with a Bailey Morris jumper and then a Becky Mueller bucket. Concordia trailed 95-92 with :16 remaining but failed to score the rest of the way and watched the Wildcats make 4 of 6 free throws to put the game on ice.

The loss was the Bulldogs’ first of the season away from home and first in the month of December. While the defeat halted a six-game winning streak, Olson hopes the game will help his team come tournament time.

“We’re going to play teams like this again,” Olson said. “We have to be able to adjust and not allow so many open looks. We’ll probably get down 10 again this season and we’ll have to keep chipping away and eventually take the lead. Hopefully we learned something from that.”

Morris, who ended the night with 1,027 career points to pass current assistant coach Amy Harms on the program’s all-time chart, tied a season high with 26 points, including 16 in the first half. She scored in just about every way imaginable once again to keep the Bulldogs close.

Concordia took momentum into the locker room when senior guard Kristen Conahan Morris on a back door cut for a three-point play in the final seconds of the first half. The beautifully executed play sliced Concordia’s deficit to just three, 50-47.

The Wildcats found an answer for every Bulldog run as they rattled off 18-for-35 (.514) shooting from beyond the arc. VanDyke was particularly deadly as she drained 8 of 13 attempts from 3-point range. Bethel’s 50.7 percent shooting allowed it to overcome a 20-6 disadvantage in the turnover column.

Joining Morris in double figures for the Bulldogs were Conahan (16), Mueller (15), Kelsey Hizer (13) and Tracy Peitz (12). Hizer added eight rebounds and Conahan tossed out six dimes.

The Bulldogs will play in San Antonio again on New Year’s Eve as Evangel University (Mo.) serves as the opponent. Evangel (4-7) fell 76-59 to host Our Lady of the Lake on Monday in San Antonio. Tuesday’s game will tip off at 1 p.m. from Our Lady of the Lake University.

30 December 2013

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Junior Bailey Morris