JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Both sides made early adjustments in the second go-round this season between the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team and Jamestown. With a slight tweak, the Bulldogs shook loose from the Jimmies, dominated the third quarter and rode 13 3-point field goals to a 98-67 win inside Newman Arena on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 19).
Thirteenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has moved to 19-2 overall and to 13-2 in league play. With top-ranked Dakota Wesleyan falling at No. 21 Hastings on Saturday, Concordia now shares first place with No. 3 Northwestern.
“I felt like we had a really good start and really pressured them,” Olson said. “Then they did a nice job of breaking our press and cracking our zone. After the first quarter we switched up and went to a man press. At that point defensively we just kind of locked them down. It was just up to our kids to knock down shots. We had some good bench contributions in that second half.”
A flurry of turnovers from the opposition again helped the cause for Concordia, which forced 39 of them at Jamestown. There is just something about those third quarters when these two squads get together. In the first meeting on Nov. 17, the Bulldogs outscored the Jimmies, 28-9, in the third period. Concordia held an even more decisive edge (35-14) in that 10-minute stretch this time around. During which, Taylor Cockerill exerted control by notching 11 of her game high 22 points.
Cockerill, who made 5-of-6 shots from 3-point range, watched most of the fourth quarter from the bench with the game well in hand. She was joined in double figures by Quinn Wragge (16), Philly Lammers (15) and MacKenzie Helman (10). The quartet of Cockerill, Helman, Mackenzie Koepke and Wragge combined to net 12-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc.
Jamestown (11-11, 5-9 GPAC) had stretches of solid play offensively. It shot 56 percent (14-for-25) from the field in the first half. It just wasn’t near enough to overcome the massive turnover differential (39-18). Five pesky Bulldogs recorded three steals or more, led by five from Wragge.
The latest outing was just another example of how ably this Concordia team can find different ways to win. Just when you think you may have that zone press figured out, the Bulldogs can flip a switch.
“It’s a really important thing for us to have both (types of presses) as we start to play teams a second or third time,” Olson said. “They might be a little more prepared for what we do, but we now have the ability to switch things on teams and keep them off balance. Hopefully that continues.”
CUNE alum and Jamestown head coach Thad Sankey actually got most of the scoring production from his bench. The Jimmie starting five combined for only 13 points. In reserve roles, Mackensi Higlin (20) and Olivia Anderson (14) provided the scoring Jamestown needed to climb back into the game near the end of the first quarter – until the turnovers did it in. Concordia’s lead grew as large as 34 points.
With a new NAIA coaches’ poll set to be released on Tuesday, the Bulldogs are likely to move back into the No. 1 spot. Concordia was the preseason No. 1 and remained there until sliding back to No. 3 with the poll release on Dec. 11.
The Bulldogs will return home to host Doane (4-18, 1-14 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff from Walz Arena is set for 6 p.m. CST. Concordia won the season’s first meeting with the Tigers, 93-53, in Crete on Dec. 5. Doane picked up its first GPAC win of the season by topping Hastings, 68-62, this past Wednesday.