Bulldogs force 32 turnovers in comfortable home win over Lancers

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 24, 2024 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – A tight first quarter gave way to a comfortable home victory for the eighth-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team, which remains perfect within conference play since the calendar flipped to 2024. In Wednesday (Jan. 24) night action, the Bulldogs used a 22-0 run in the opening half to blow it open in the process of routing visiting Mount Marty, 75-53. Concordia continued its series dominance by winning the 16th-consecutive meeting with the Lancers.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has won eight straight overall and stands at 15-2 (11-2 GPAC) on the season. The 2023-24 Bulldogs have achieved the program’s best 17-game mark since the 2019-20 squad also stood at 15-2.

“Defensively, I thought we did a really nice job,” Olson said. “We kind of changed it up on them going into our zone. I thought that group (during the 22-0 run) played really well together, moved the ball and hit some shots. That’s the biggest thing – we just didn’t make shots tonight. We had good longs and they didn’t go in. During that stretch we did hit some shots to extend the lead.”

In the first Concordia-Mount Marty meeting back in December, the Lancers hung tough for the better part of three quarters. This time around, turnovers ravaged the visitors from Yankton, S.D.  Mount Marty finished with 32 turnovers while up against a Bulldog outfit that applies intense defensive ball pressure each outing. Not only did the GPAC’s peskiest club rack up turnovers, it allowed the Lancers to hoist only 41 field goal attempts (41.5 percent).

The 22-0 spurt began late in the first quarter and spilled into a dominant second quarter. During the run, Kristin Vieslemeyer and Raelyn Kelty combined for a trio of three-point plays as a result of Concordia aggressively pushing the ball. The key to the Bulldogs’ best stretch of play was a switch to a smothering zone. The lead grew to as many as 26 points late in the fourth quarter. The only thing preventing Concordia from really stretching the lead after halftime was its meager 36.4 percent (28-for-77) shooting performance. It went only 7-for-37 (.189) from the perimeter.

Taysha Rushton (1,658 career points) moved up another rung on the program’s all-time scoring list as she leapfrogged Kristen Conahan for No. 9. Rushton notched 10 points and six rebounds on the evening. A fellow classmate of Rushton, Sadie Powell is playing the best basketball of her career. She tallied 15 points, six steals and four assists and devastated Mount Marty with her length when situated at the top of the press. Vieselmeyer added 10 points, Megan Belt chipped in with nine points (3-for-5 from 3-point range) and Kelty and Sammy Leu supplied seven points apiece off the bench.

Mount Marty (5-13, 1-11 GPAC) has dropped eight in a row within conference play. The Lancers got a team high 12 points from Maria Parsley while Sidney Thue (nine points and 10 rebounds) just missed a double-double. Mount Marty shot 10-for-23 (.435) from beyond the arc. It dropped this season’s first meeting with Concordia, 77-57, in Yankton.

Olson will expect a cleaner overall performance on Friday. Said Olson, “We did some really nice things with the zone, and our press was good at times, but we also had a lot of breakdowns and some things we should be better at. We’ll be focused going into the next one.”

The 71st Concordia Invitational Tournament is up next. In CIT action on Friday, the Bulldogs will go up against fellow NAIA member Concordia Ann Arbor (13-5) at 1 p.m. CT from R. John Buuck Field House in Mequon, Wis. On Saturday, CUNE will take the court at either 12:30 p.m. (consolation) or 5:30 p.m. (championship). Olson’s program is aiming to claim its ninth-straight CIT championship.