New-look Bulldogs cut down by undefeated Northwestern

New-look Bulldogs cut down by undefeated Northwestern

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team unveiled a new-look starting lineup complete with three freshmen and two juniors in Saturday’s NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week. With the Bulldog backcourt tandem of Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris on the mend, No. 2 Northwestern (17-0, 9-0 GPAC) rolled up an 86-68 victory at the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa.

Concordia, now 15-4 overall and 9-2 in conference play, falls two losses behind the Red Raiders at the top of the GPAC standings.

“Northwestern is a great team,” Concordia eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “I felt that we did not come ready to play as a team. We knew we had some players who were not going to play and I don’t think we realized that we had to play together. Individually, we had players trying to do stuff they're not used to.”

Northwestern led virtually the entire way, taking control with an early double digit lead thanks to a 10-0 run. The Red Raiders drilled 10 treys, including seven in the first half. They also took advantage of a small Concordia lineup and enjoyed a 50-35 rebounding advantage. Northwestern led by as many as 35 points in the second half.

With Conahan and Morris sidelined on Saturday and Jerrica Pearson and Britney Birtell out for the remainder of the season, Olson turned to a lineup that featured Devin Edwards and Karissa Segelke, who both made their first career starts. The retooled rotation struggled to take care of the basketball, turning it over 20 times.

Those miscues were capitalized upon by the likes of sharpshooters Allie Engebretson (28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Mackenzie Small (19 points). They combined to go a white hot 9-for-11 from 3-point range. For the game Northwestern shot 46.9 percent overall and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

“They are great shooters,” Olson said. “They know how to get open. They shoot on balance and they create space. They are really good.”

Playing a career high 28 minutes, Edwards posted a career high 12 points. Fellow freshman Becky Mueller tied a team high with 12 points as freshmen combined for 33 points. Shelby Quinn contributed to that effort with half a dozen.

“I thought Devin came ready to play,” Olson said. “She played with great confidence. She took care of the ball and she hit shots.”

Coming off career highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday, junior Tracy Peitz had an off game (3-for-16 from the field). She managed 11 points and six rebounds.

Northwestern, one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in NAIA Division II, has won all 17 of its games by nine points or more.

Conahan and Morris both made the trip to cheer on their teammates. Their statuses for the remainder of the season are yet to be determined.

“I hope Bailey will be healthy (for next Saturday) but I don’t know yet,” Olson said. “We have to keep getting better as a team.

“Today was a great learning experience. Hopefully we’ll figure out how to play within ourselves.”

A mid-week bye comes at an opportune time for Olson’s squad, which will be off until next Saturday’s home contest against No. 23 Briar Cliff (11-8, 5-5 GPAC) at 2 p.m. It will be a rematch of the Nov. 23 game in Sioux City, Iowa, where the Bulldogs won 80-72 over the then 12th-ranked Chargers.

11 January 2014

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Freshman Devin Edwards