2024 GPAC WBB Quarterfinal Preview: Concordia vs. Morningside

By Chase Benton on Feb. 26, 2024 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – Thirteen teams have played their season and only eight remain for the 2024 GPAC Tournament which starts Wednesday (Feb. 28). The Concordia Women’s Basketball team came out of their last two games on top, plowing past Hastings (82-55) and Midland (80-50) in dominant fashion. With these two wins, the 2nd-seeded Bulldogs are going to host seventh-seeded Morningside in Seward, Nebraska in two days. Concordia is 11-2 inside Friedrich Arena this season.

This Week

GPAC Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 28 vs. Morningside (15-12, 12-10 GPAC), 6 p.m.
--Max Country | Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: Friedrich Arena (Seward, Neb.)

GPAC Semifinals – Saturday, March 2 (if Concordia wins on Wednesday)

--Admission: $10 for adults; $3 for students (K-College); GPAC students with ID are admitted free; season passes are not allowed (NAIA issued passes are allowed).

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By the numbers

·       With the Bulldogs taking second, the rest of the quarterfinal host teams are No. 1 Dordt (21-1), No. 3 Briar Cliff (15-7) and No. 4 Northwestern (14-8). The Red Raiders edged out No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan (14-8) after defeating Dordt in their final game. The last three teams to clinch were No. 6 Jamestown (13-9), No. 7 Morningside (12-10) and No. 8 Doane (11-11). The four teams out are Hastings, Midland, Mount Marty and College of Saint Mary. Last year, Briar Cliff defeated Dordt (86-69) for the GPAC tournament championship.

·       Toomey, a traditional type of stat stuffing player, may not always be the highest scorer on the team, but she was against Hastings this past Saturday (Feb. 21). She collected her second career double-double on her way to dropping 21 points and 13 rebounds, not to mention 3 assists. She was joined in double figures by Brigham (15) and Taysha Rushton (11). The Bulldogs set fire in the second half and made 11-of-21 from downtown over the last two quarters. After being challenged by the coaches to out rebound an opponent in Midland, the Bulldogs pulled down a season high (48) off the glass and clamped down on defense allowing their opponent to shoot 28.1 percent (16-of-57 FG). A pack of seniors led the way in scoring, which started with Taysha Rushton (14), Mackenzie Toomey (13), Kendal Brigham (11) and Sadie Powell (11). The senior, out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hit a trey in the fourth quarter to grab her 1,000th career point. Other teammates honored as the class of 2024 were Lydia Dose, Carolyn Esh, Maggi Hughes, Elayne Poppe and Hanna Spearman.

·       Once Concordia gets to the GPAC tournament stage, the small town college seems to glory under the lights as the conference watches for one to become victorious. With seven tournament titles since the GPAC began in the 2000-01 season, the Bulldogs have flourished in post-season play under Coach Drew Olson, who has six titles under his belt (one under Todd Voss). From the 2016-17 campaign to 2019-20, Concordia won four straight and followed with a runner up finish the following year. What might be most impressive, is they have qualified every year since the conference began.

·       A defense that has been ranked in the top-10 all season (NAIA) and No. 1 in the conference will look to continue its dominance over common foes. Like a pack of wild dogs, Concordia ravages 13.3 steals and forces 29.8 turnovers a contest. With a defensive efficiency rating of 0.823, the Bulldogs are second in the conference in points allowed per 100 possessions. The defensive makeup of this team could scare Scooby and Shaggy out of their boots. The lead ball hawks are cat-quick guards Toomey (2.3 SPG), Rushton (2.0), and Brigham (1.6). Abby Krieser (1.6 SPG) defends her opponents like an inescapable enclosing stonewall and Powell (1.8) uses her length to squeeze the rock out of her opponents' hands and into her own. 

·       In the latest ARC ratings (Feb. 17), CUNE is ranked No. 2 in the North-Central region, under Dordt, and ranks 11th in the RPI at 0.617 all while having the 30th ranked strength of schedule. The Dawgs rank 5th in the Massey Ratings, which all leads to them being a lock for a national tournament berth.

Concordia Projected Starting Five
G – Mackenzie Toomey, 5-9 (7.0)
G – Taysha Rushton, 5-5 (14.8)
G – Abby Krieser, 5-8 (9.1)
F – Sadie Powell, 6-0 (11.7)
F – Kristin Vieselmeyer, 6-1 (5.4)

Head Coach: Drew Olson (17th season at Concordia)

The opponent

The Mustangs end their season 0-2 in the final week and have a 12-10 GPAC record going into the conference tournament. Morningside fell in the championship (83-60), to Dakota Wesleyan, just two years ago. Head Coach Jaime Sale has won four national championships, with the latest being in 2015. The Mustangs average 71.3 points per game and have two starters in double digits with Alexis Spier (14.2) and Lily Vollertsen (12.4). The Bulldogs got both wins in the regular season, starting in Seward (86-62). At Morningside, Concordia completed the sweep (79-67) in Sioux City, Iowa on the last day of January. The Mustangs will need to win the tournament to have a chance at going to the national tournament, after showing a 15-12 overall campaign record.

Morningside Projected Starting Five
G –Olivia Larsen, 5-6 (3.1)
G – Jaeden Webb, 5-9 (6.1)
G – Alexis Spier, 5-7 (14.2)
F – Ella Wragge, 5-10 (5.1)
C – Lily Vollertsen, 6-2 (12.4)

Head Coach: Jaime Sale (23rd season at Morningside)

2024 GPAC Women’s Basketball Tournament

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 28

 (8) Doane at (1) Dordt, 7 p.m.
(5) Dakota Wesleyan at (4) Northwestern, 6 p.m.
(6) Jamestown at (3) Briar Cliff, 7 p.m.
(7) Morningside at (2) Concordia, 6 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, March 2

8/1 winner vs. 5/4 winner, time TBA
6/3 winner vs. 7/2 winner, time TBA

Championship - Tuesday, March 5

Highest remaining seed hosts, time TBA