Fourth quarter surge pushes Bulldogs into first-place GPAC tie

By Jake Knabel on Jan. 16, 2019 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – Midland put a scare into the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team with a solid third quarter performance. Once again, it has proven to be a chore to hang with the Bulldogs for a full 40 minutes. Behind All-American Philly Lammers, the Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter on an 18-4 run and motored to an 84-74 victory inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night (Jan. 16).

Thirteenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad now finds itself in a three-way tie for first place in the GPAC standings. Concordia has improved to 18-2 overall and to 12-2 in league play.

“Defensively we were a little bit sharper and did a little bit better job in the press,” Olson said of the fourth quarter eruption. “Ultimately it was about hitting shots. (Mackenzie) Koepke hit two threes and Philly hit a three. That was why we were able to pull away.”

The opposing duo of Maddie Egr and Lexis Haase turned out to be a handful. Egr and Haase dropped in 20 points apiece. They went back-to-back with buckets, capping a third quarter that ended with Concordia hanging on to just a four-point (64-60) lead. In the face of a stiff challenge, the Bulldogs answered the bell in the fourth quarter. Lammers got the run kick-started with a bucket in the paint and then even canned a trey. Concordia led by as many as 18 points.

The Bulldogs were unable to muster one of their patented blowouts due in large part to the play of Egr and Haase, but also because the Warriors limited their turnovers to a reasonable count of 24. Midland enjoyed a solid offensive day, shooting 49.1 percent for the game (53.3 percent in the second half). On the flip side, the Warriors had a decided disadvantage from the free throw line, where Concordia went 20-for-28 and Midland went 12-for-19.

The Warriors also don’t have Lammers on their side. The All-American finished with 19 points on 9-for-16 shooting despite a bout with foul trouble. Cockerill equaled her with 19 points, thanks mostly to her 12-for-14 effort from the foul line. Quinn Wragge added 15 points and five rebounds, Grace Barry chipped in six points and seven assists and Colby Duvel put up seven points and eight rebounds. Duvel has earned her stripes as a super sub.

“We just have to play off each other,” Duvel said of her and Lammers in the post. “Each time we’re going in and out of the game we’re telling each other what’s working and what’s not working. A big thing is talking to our guards. It’s a collective group. We’re there for each other.”

Koepke may have made only two shots, but they were both big ones from 3-point range during the fourth quarter push. The Lincoln Lutheran product also swiped five steals.

Midland dropped to 6-8 in GPAC play (11-9 overall). The Warriors may not get their proper due simply because of having to play in the rugged GPAC.

“You look at the standings and see they’re in the middle. That’s a really good basketball team,” Olson said. “Very well coached. Very good defensively. They had a good attack against our press. I think that’s a team that should go to the national tournament, but we’ll see what happens. I’m just glad our kids had the focus to make enough plays to win that game.”

A long road trip awaits the Bulldogs, who will leave on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s 2 p.m. CST contest at Jamestown (11-10, 5-8 GPAC). The Jimmies have not played since their 70-62 win at Doane on Jan. 12. In the first meeting this season between Concordia and Jamestown, the Bulldogs emerged with an 87-59 victory on Nov. 17.