Concordia, the 6th-ranked team in the NAIA, made it back-to-back wins over top-15 teams with a 74-65 victory over 5th-ranked Morningside College on Saturday in Sioux City. The Bulldogs improved to 16-2 overall and 9-2 in GPAC play with the win. Concordia also avenged an earlier season loss to the Mustangs. Morningside dropped to 14-6 overall and 8-3 in conference play.
Morningside came out strong with a quick 5-0 run to open the game. Concordia responded, however, and a 9-0 run by the Bulldogs forced an early Morningside timeout. The game remained close for the next several minutes of action, but Concordia’s pressure defense caused problems for Morningside throughout the remainder of the half. The Bulldogs extended their lead and led by as many as 11 on two occasions. Concordia had several deflections and eight steals in the half, and the Bulldogs turned multiple Morningside turnovers into points. Concordia shot an even 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field in the half and took a 42-34 lead into halftime.
Chelsie Trask and Leann Osten combined for 19 points to lead the way for Morningside in the opening half. The Mustangs were 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) from the field but totaled 11 turnovers in the half. Concordia had a balanced scoring attack in the opening half, as a total of seven players scored. Tracy Peitz (Hartington, Neb.) and Bailey Morris (Roseland, Neb.) scored nine points apiece, while Kristen Conahan (Omaha, Neb.) added eight to help the Bulldogs to the halftime lead.
Things got off to a rocky start for Concordia in the opening minute of the second half. The Bulldogs committed two early fouls and had a turnover. Morningside took advantage of the mistakes and quickly pulled within four at 42-38. Conahan ended the Mustang scoring run by draining a 3-pointer to push the Bulldog lead back to seven at 45-38 with 18 minutes remaining.
The Mustangs continued to keep the pressure on, and a 3-point play by Trask pulled Morningside within one (47-46) with 13 minutes remaining. A pair of Concordia 3-pointers gave the Bulldogs a 53-46 lead, but the Mustangs again pulled within two following a 5-0 run. Conahan again had the answer, and her fourth 3-pointer of the game gave the Bulldogs a 56-51 lead. A runner in the lane by Conahan increased the Bulldog lead back to seven with 10 minutes left in the contest.
Concordia pushed the lead back to 10 with five minutes remaining, but the Mustangs didn’t go away. Back-to-back buckets by Morningside, including a 3-pointer by Trask, pulled the Mustangs back within five at 66-61. Conahan knocked down a pair of free throws to increase the Concordia lead back to seven (68-61), but a jumper in the lane by Trask again pulled Morningside within five with just over a minute to play. That was as close at Morningside would get, however, as Concordia took care of business at the foul line down the stretch. The Bulldogs, who opened the game just 6-of-12 at the foul line, made their final eight free throws to close out the win.
For the game, Concordia was 26-of-61 from the field for 42.6 percent. The Bulldogs connected on eight 3-pointers on the day. Three players reached double figures, and Conahan led the way with a career-high 25 points. The sophomore guard hit four 3-pointers and was 9-of-12 overall from the field. Morris added a career-high 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. Amber Kistler (Minatare, Neb.) also reached double figures with 10 points, while Peitz finished with nine. Lori Laboda (Parker, Colo.) pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, as the Bulldogs held a slim 37-36 rebounding advantage.
Trask scored a game-high 23 points for Morningside in the loss, while Brittany Alfredson secured a game-high 12 rebounds. The Mustangs were 21-of-53 (39.6 percent) overall from the field but just 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from long range. The Mustangs finished with 19 turnovers in the loss.
Concordia returns home to host Midland University on January 17.