Concordia University shook off a slow start and pulled away in the second half for a 79-67 win over Midland University on Tuesday evening in Seward. The 5th-ranked Bulldogs improved to 17-2 (10-2 GPAC) with the victory. Midland (7-14 overall) remained winless in conference play at 0-12.
The first half went back and forth. Midland took an early 4-point advantage before Concordia responded to lead by as many as seven in the opening 20 minutes. Concordia held a slim 33-29 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs were just 12-of-35 from the field overall (4-of-16 from deep) in the half, but points off turnovers and bench scoring kept the Bulldogs in front. Concordia forced 13 Midland turnovers and converted those turnovers into 17 points. The Bulldog bench also held a 14-4 scoring advantage over the Midland bench in the half. Midland stayed in the game, however, with solid free throw shooting. The Warriors were 9-of-11 at the charity stripe in the half.
The Bulldogs came out firing early in the second half and quickly built a 44-33 lead in the opening three minutes. Concordia held a 53-43 lead with less than 13 minutes remaining. From there, the Bulldogs used a 12-3 run to take their largest lead of the game (65-46) with just over eight minutes left in the contest. The Warriors pulled within 11 on two separate occasions down the stretch but would get no closer. The Bulldogs settled for the 12-point win. Following the game, Bulldog head coach talked about the highs and lows of the contest.
“I was really disappointed with our start tonight, because we just didn’t play well in the first half,” noted Olson. However, I credit the girls, because they came out ready to play in the second half. We certainly played a lot better as the game went on.”
Concordia finished 27-of-67 from the field for 40.3 percent. The Bulldogs connected on 11 3-pointers on the evening and were 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) at the foul line. Three players scored in double figures, and a total of 10 players scored for the Bulldogs in the win. Kristen Conahan (Omaha, Neb.) and Bailey Morris (Roseland, Neb.) scored 17 points apiece to pace the Bulldog offense. Conahan connected on five 3-pointers on the night. For the second straight game, Morris poured in a season-high in points. The freshman was 4-of-8 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 at the foul line. Amber Kistler (Minatare, Neb.) added 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field. Concordia totaled 19 assists on their 27 made field goals. Morris dished out a game-high five, while Tracy Peitz (Hartington, Neb.) and Conahan each added four assists apiece. The Bulldog bench outscored the Midland bench by a final total of 36-11, something that Coach Olson was very pleased with.
“Our depth is such a plus,” added Olson. We utilized our bench again tonight. We got a great lift from several players off the bench, and we really wore them down as the night went on.”
As has been the case all season, the Bulldog defense was solid. Midland shot a respectable 45.8 percent from the field (22-of-48). However, the Warriors turned the ball over 25 times, leading to 35 Concordia points off of turnovers. Concordia totaled 15 steals in the win. Peitz led the way with four steals.
“Our defense really went to work tonight when we were struggling offensively,” remarked Olson. “We didn’t have a lot going in the opening half. We really feed off our pressure defense, and we were able to take them out of what they wanted to do for most of the evening. We were able to get some easy points, and we did a nice job of taking advantage of their mistakes.”
Jami Thramer had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Midland in the loss. Thramer was just 4-of-9 from the field but went 11-of-12 at the foul line. Sammy Hislop and Jamilah Johnson added 11 points apiece for the Warriors.
Concordia travels to Nebraska-Omaha on Thursday evening. The Bulldogs then return home to host Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday.