Concordia University stepped out of conference play on Thursday evening and picked up a 68-60 women’s basketball win over Nebraska-Omaha. Concordia, currently the 5th-ranked team in the NAIA, improved to 18-2 with the victory. UNO, who converted to NCAA Division I status and will compete in the Summit League beginning next year, dropped to 11-9 with the loss. It was just the second home loss of the season for the Mavericks.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start from the field and went just 1-of-6 in the opening few minutes of the contest. Concordia settled in, however, and Bailey Morris (Roseland, Neb.) provided a nice spark off the bench. The freshman guard poured in nine early points to get things rolling for the Concordia offense.
With the game tied at 17-17, Concordia put together a 17-0 run to grab a 34-17 lead. Amber Kistler (Minatare, Neb.) scored five straight points to give the Bulldogs a 22-17 lead. A layup by Morris and a pair of free throws by Katie Rich (Tilden, Neb.) gave Concordia a 26-17 lead. A 3-pointer by Kristen Conahan (Omaha, Neb.) and a layup by Rich increased the Concordia advantage to 14 (31-17) with six minutes to play in the half. The scoring run continued, as Conahan buried another 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the half at 34-17.
A jumper by Jamie Nash ended the Concordia scoring run, and UNO got right back in the game with a 12-0 run of their own. The Mavericks pulled within five (34-29) with two minutes to play in the half. Morris had an answer for Concordia, as she sank a 3-pointer to push the Bulldog lead back to eight (37-29), but a layup by Rese Huddlin pulled UNO within six (37-31) heading into halftime.
The Concordia defense did its part in the opening half. UNO was 11-of-22 from the field, but the Bulldogs forced 18 Maverick turnovers in the half. UNO also struggled from deep, hitting just 1-of-8 attempts in the half. The Bulldogs totaled five 3-pointers, but free throw shooting was a problem for Concordia. Concordia was just 4-of-10 at the line in the opening 20 minutes. Morris led the way for the Bulldogs with 14 first half points.
In the second half, Concordia reclaimed an 8-point lead (47-39) on a 3-pointer by Conahan with less than 14 minutes remaining in regulation. UNO got back into the game at the free throw line. The Mavericks scored their next six points at the charity stripe to pull within two (47-45) with 12 minutes to play. Conahan buried another 3-pointer, however, and Concordia held a 50-45 lead with less than nine minutes remaining.
Both teams went cold from the field over the next few minutes, and Concordia maintained a 52-49 lead with six minutes to play. A 3-pointer by Brittany Benson (Naples, Fla.) increased the Concordia lead to six at 55-49. A pair of made free throws by Rich pushed the lead to eight (57-49). Following a UNO layup by Jamie Nash, Kistler knocked down a pair of free throws to build the CU lead to eight at 59-51. Following a Bulldog timeout, Conahan knocked down her fifth 3-pointer of the evening to give the Bulldogs a 62-51 lead. Following a UNO made free throw, Kistler scored on a layup to give Concordia a 64-52 advantage with two minutes left. The Mavericks made a little run in the closing minute, but Concordia secured the 68-60 victory.
“We feel like we have a good team, and we went into this game with confidence,” said Bulldog head coach Drew Olson. “Once the game got going, we went on a run and started to hit some shots. Our defense was solid, and our kids did a great job with their rotations throughout the game. We forced them into making some mistakes, and our rebounding was fantastic. They have such a tall team, but our whole team really crashed the boards tonight.”
Concordia placed three players in double figures. Morris led the way with 16 points to go along with four steals and two assists. Conahan added 15 on her five 3-pointers and also added three assists and three steals. Kistler poured in 13 points with a team-high seven rebounds and four steals. Rich and Jericca Pearson (Gibbon, Neb.) added eight points and seven points, respectively, for the Bulldogs. Concordia finished with 18 steals and 30 points off turnovers on the night. The Bulldog bench also held a commanding 36-14 scoring advantage over the UNO bench.
UNO also placed three players in double figures. Nash and Paige Frauendorfer each scored 14. Frauendorfer also added a game-high 10 rebounds. Stacia Gebers added 11 points and six boards for the Mavericks, who committed 29 turnovers in the contest. Nash and Frauendorfer combined for 17 of those turnovers. Outside shooting and free throw shooting were also a nightmare for UNO. The Mavericks were just 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from deep and 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) at the foul line.
The Bulldogs return to conference play this weekend with a home game against Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Walz Human Performance Complex. While excited about Thursday’s win, Coach Olson talked about the quick turnaround his team must now face.
“We can take a lot from this win tonight, but we also need to refocus,” noted Olson. “We have a tough and confident team, and tonight was a nice win for us. However, we have to get ready to jump back into conference play. We’ll enjoy this one for a little bit, but our focus must quickly turn to Dakota Wesleyan.”