SEWARD, Neb. – Three wins, including two in convincing fashion and another over a fellow top-five opponent, followed the double overtime road defeat to begin 2019. The second-ranked Bulldogs continue to keep pace a game behind No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan at the top of the GPAC standings with nine GPAC regular-season contests to go. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad will knock out two of those league games this week.
Wednesday, Jan. 16 vs. Midland (11-8, 6-7), 6 p.m.
-Webcast: Concordia Sports Network
-Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Saturday, Jan. 19 at Jamestown (11-10, 5-8), 2 p.m.
-Webcast: Stretch Internet
-Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Anyone who has watched Concordia women’s basketball knows that its press is a handful to deal with, especially for opponents without sound decision makers in the backcourt. The impressive thing about the 2018-19 Bulldogs is that they are turning teams over at a rate much greater than even the recent squads that Olson has led to the national semifinals. The current group is forcing an average of 32.0 turnovers per game, significantly better than the 2014-15 (26.7), 2016-17 (26.3) and 2017-18 (24.4) teams that each won at least 34 games. Last week the Bulldogs caused a combined 70 turnovers in wins over Hastings and Briar Cliff.
The rash of turnovers has led Concordia to wealth of blowouts. Of its 17 victories, 15 have come by double-digit margins. The other two wins came by exactly eight points versus No. 2 Southeastern University (Fla.) and No. 5 Northwestern. The Bulldogs have done all of this damage against a schedule that Massey Ratings has listed as the toughest in all of NAIA women’s basketball. Concordia ranks sixth nationally in per game scoring margin (+22.8).
Defensive tenacity is its driving force, but Concordia actually rates as the top offensive team in the NAIA, according to Massey Ratings. While the Bulldogs rank a modest sixth among GPAC teams in 3-point field goal percentage (.310), they have a knack for getting opportunities at the bucket. They are converting 51.0 percent of their shots inside the 3-point arc. All-Americans Philly Lammers (.610) and Quinn Wragge (.520) are both shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. Concordia ranks fourth nationally in scoring average (88.6).
Midland, Wednesday’s opponent, could use a victory over the Bulldogs to bolster its résumé moving down the stretch. The Warriors appeared in the national top 25 in November and December before dropping to the “receiving votes” category last week. Former Bulldog Maddie Egr is enjoying a fine season, averaging 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.56 blocks per game. Head coach Shawn Gilbert’s squad is coming off a 98-78 loss at Dakota Wesleyan on Sunday. In the first meeting with Concordia, Midland led after the first quarter before the Bulldogs took control over the final three quarters.
Jamestown is finding out how challenging it is to navigate the GPAC grind. CUNE alum and Jimmie head coach Thad Sankey’s squad bounced back from back-to-back GPAC defeats by winning at Doane, 70-62, over the weekend. It’s looking like Jamestown will have to make a run down the stretch in order to extend the program’s run of seven national tournament appearances in a row. The Jimmies will try to slow things down on Saturday. They average 67.2 points and allow 62.8.
(Scoring average in parentheses)
Concordia (17-2, 11-2 GPAC)
G – Grace Barry, Jr., 5-7 (11.6)
G – Taylor Cockerill, So., 5-9 (15.4)
G – Riley Sibbel, Jr., 5-9 (5.0)
F – Quinn Wragge, Sr., 6-0 (11.5)
F – Philly Lammers, Jr., 5-11 (13.9)
Midland (11-8, 6-7 GPAC)
G – Amanda Hansen, Jr., 5-7 (11.6)
G – Maddie Meadows, Jr., 5-11 (5.1)
G – Madison Severson, Sr., 5-3 (7.4)
F – Maddie Egr, Sr., 6-0 (14.5)
F – Makenna Sullivan, So., 5-11 (6.2)
Jamestown (11-10, 5-8 GPAC)
G – Mya Buffeta, So., 5-4 (4.7)
G – Paige Schmidt, Jr., 5-8 (9.2)
F – Noelle Josephson, Fr., 5-10 (7.7)
F – Emma Stoehr, So., 5-8 (8.9)
C – Jenna Doyle, Sr., 6-3 (6.3)