Bid to upset NAIA's No. 1 team comes up short

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 18, 2021 in Women's Basketball

HONOLULU, Hawaii – The program’s first venture to Hawaii in five years came with plenty of anticipation beyond the warm weather and scenic views. In the first of two big-time matchups on the weekend, the 22nd-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team gave No. 1 Campbellsville University (Ky.) a strong push in what culminated in a 64-57 win for the Tigers on Saturday (Dec. 18). The game was played at the Ching Center in Honolulu.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad had no fear of battling the NAIA’s top-ranked team, it just couldn’t muster enough offensive firepower against the Campbellsville zone. The Bulldogs slipped to 8-5 overall.

“We got out to a slow start and their zone is really good,” Olson said. “Their zone reminds me of how we played in Philly (Lammer)’s era. Our bench group settled in and did a great job of attacking. I loved our fight. We got down 11 and made a really good push to get back within four. We couldn’t get over the hump. We didn’t play our best basketball, but it’s a credit to Campbellsville. They’re a really tough team with experience and really well-coached. They made the tough plays when they needed to.”

Neither team put on an offensive clinic. Campbellsville wound up outshooting the Bulldogs, 37.9 to 35.1 percent. The Tigers managed to hold off a Concordia rally in the fourth quarter that was led by the likes of Kayla Luebbe and Sadie Powell off the bench. They combined for every point in a 9-2 run that cut an 11-point deficit down to four (54-50) in the middle of the fourth period. Campbellsville proceeded to tighten the screws and did not allow the Bulldogs a single basket over the game’s final six minutes. Such defensive prowess overcame the Tigers’ 0-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc in the second half.

The bench got more minutes than the starters for Concordia. In 24 minutes of action, Luebbe notched the first double-double of her career while totaling a game high 15 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Powell was next in line with 11 points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Taylor Farrell added seven points and Mackenzie Toomey chipped in with five points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lauren Baker paced the starters with six points while Taysha Rushton was held to two points.

Campbellsville remains undefeated at 13-0. The Tigers also got a big lift from their bench as reserve Kaitlyn Wilks led the way with 14 points. She was joined in double figures by Maddy Boyle (12) and Faith Lake (11). Campbellsville succeeded in flipping the script on the Bulldogs, who have made a living out of positive turnover margins. The Tigers were plus-six in that category on Saturday, helping lessen their disadvantage of 46-35 on the boards.

Concordia had scored 84 or more points in each of its previous three outings (all wins), which included a victory over then 12th-ranked Northwestern. A 3-for-23 effort from 3-point range wasn’t going to cut it against the No. 1 team in the nation.

Said Olson, “When we play a really good team, we have to play well and have a full team effort. We can’t have three or four players play well – we need eight or nine to step up and play well. We’re getting there. This is all part of our growth. It’s a great learning experience for a lot of our freshmen and sophomores. I wanted us to compete and get better, and I think we did.”

Another big opportunity awaits on Sunday when the Bulldogs will take on No. 3 Thomas More University (Ky.) (11-1), the 2021 national runner up. The contest is slated to tip off at 12 p.m. HST / 4 p.m. CST from the Shark Tank on the campus of Hawaii Pacific University. Follow the links below for live coverage.

Dec. 19 vs. No. 3 Thomas More (9-1), 12 p.m. HST / 4 p.m. CST
--Live Webcast | Live Stats
--Location: Hawaii Pacific University | Honolulu, Hawaii