Ugly first half fails to stop Bulldogs from seventh win in eight tries

Ugly first half fails to stop Bulldogs from seventh win in eight tries

SAN ANTONIO – Very little about Tuesday’s affair in San Antonio was pretty – other than the end result. Seventh-ranked Concordia shook off a sloppily-played first half to earn a 77-62 win over Evangel University (Mo.) on the second and final day of the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic. The Bulldogs won for the seventh time in eight games to improve to 13-3 overall.

Following a spirited halftime discussion, the Bulldogs played with much more purpose and aggression in the second half.

“The real difference was that our kids played harder,” Olson said. “In the first half a lot of our main players had the mindset to play their game but not really attack. We were passive and weren’t being the aggressor. We panicked a little and we couldn’t find our shots.

“Second half – we decided to be the aggressor and we got going at a faster pace.”

It took more than 25 minutes of action before Concordia could gain control. The Bulldogs exploded a few minutes into the second half with a 12-1 run that provided an eight-point lead at the 13:37 mark. The advantage soon ballooned into double digits.

After being held to a combined eight points in the first half, star guards Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris elevated their play and the rest of the offense flowed much more like the one that came in averaging 88.1 points per game.

Concordia led by as many as 16 points late in the game. Following 12 turnovers and 33.3 percent first-half shooting, the Bulldogs gave the ball away eight times and improved to 50 percent shooting in the second half in which Morris put up 14 of her 16 points and Conahan tallied nine of 14 points on the afternoon.

Freshman Becky Mueller provided a reliable scoring option, going for 15 points along with six rebounds. Her team high seven first-half points were particularly crucial at a time when Concordia struggled mightily on the offensive end. Evangel took a 30-28 lead to the halftime break.

Olson cited role players in junior Ashley Kuntz (10 points in seven minutes of action) and freshman Devin Edwards (four points, one steal) as key components in the win.

“Becky played great and Ashley was a huge difference maker in the second half,” Olson said. “I also thought Devin played really well. It wasn’t something that would stand out statistically but she also made a difference.”

The Crusaders (4-8), a NAIA Division I team from the Heart of America Athletic Conference, shot a solid 47.8 percent from the field behind Allison Swanson (18 points, 6-for-10 from the field). However, Evangel was also plagued by turnovers, committing 24 of them.

In addition, junior Tracy Peitz recorded eight points and eight rebounds and senior Lori Laboda chipped in seven points and seven rebounds.

Junior Jericca Pearson did not play Tuesday after coming down with an injury in Monday’s 99-92 loss to No. 10 Bethel University (Tenn.).

Even during a 9-2 run midway through the first half, Concordia could not get out of its own way at times. The methodical spurt spanned almost three minutes and left the Bulldogs up 15-11 as both teams frequently traded giveaways.

The rest of the 2013-14 regular-season slate includes 10 road or neutral games and just four home contests. Only two more non-conference games remain with both coming up at the Concordia Invitational Tournament in Mequon, Wis., on Jan. 24-25.

The Bulldogs will return to conference play on Saturday when they travel to Sioux Center, Iowa, to take on Dordt (8-6, 2-5 GPAC) at 2 p.m. The two teams met on Dec. 7 in Seward where Concordia cruised to an 89-66 victory. The Defenders have lost four-straight GPAC contests.

31 December 2013

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Freshman Becky Mueller