SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Women’s Basketball team has found a groove that it hopes to carry into this week. The Bulldogs will take a four-game win streak into Tuesday’s matchup at College of Saint Mary. Tipoff from Omaha is set for 6 p.m. CT. In GPAC play last week, Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad defeated Doane and eighth-ranked Dordt. Meanwhile, College of Saint Mary fell at Briar Cliff, 68-47, over the weekend.
*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 154 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.
Scoring Offense: 82.0 (29th)
Scoring Defense: 71.7 (103rd)
FG% Offense: .389 (T-94th)
FG% Defense: .392 (82nd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .302 (83rd)
3-pt FG% Defense: .373 (139th)
Rebound Margin: -0.71
Turnover Margin: +7.29
College of Saint Mary
Scoring Offense: 60.8 (130th)
Scoring Defense: 65.0 (T-62nd)
FG% Offense: .394 (T-87th)
FG% Defense: .367 (53rd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .176 (150th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .242 (25th)
Rebound Margin: -1.00
Turnover Margin: -3.25
Protocols for fans
Visiting fans will not be allowed to attend the game at College of Saint Mary. Fans of the Bulldogs are strongly encouraged to read protocols for all opposing institutions prior to making travel plans.
Concordia has looked like a different team over the last four games. In last week’s action, Concordia defeated Peru State College, 80-58, Doane, 111-52, and No. 8 Dordt, 73-62. During the active four-game win streak, the Bulldogs have won each game by double-digit margins while looking much more like the vintage Concordia program that has been on display in recent seasons. Over the past four games, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents, on average, 86.8 – 61.0, are shooting 36.8 percent (43-for-117) from 3-point range and own a cumulative turnover margin of +47. The win at Doane did wonders for the team’s confidence. Concordia made 11-of-17 second-half attempts from beyond the arc in the white-washing. In the victory over Dordt, the Bulldogs held the Defenders to 36.2 percent shooting while taking down the team ranked No. 1 in the GPAC preseason poll.
GPAC title contenders again?
There’s plenty of time to sort out the race for the GPAC regular-season title. It may be wide open this year considering the early results. Concordia now has reason to believe it can be in the running after effectively bouncing back from an 0-3 start that included a 91-79 home loss to Midland. Only Briar Cliff (3-0) and Morningside (2-0) have avoided suffering a GPAC loss in the early going. On the other end of the spectrum, a perennially strong Northwestern program has begun the season at 0-6 (0-3 GPAC). No. 11 Concordia was joined by No. 8 Dordt and No. 24 Morningside in the top 25 of the NAIA preseason poll. The Mustangs won the most recent GPAC title (2015-16 season) that wasn’t claimed by the Bulldogs, who have swept conference regular season and tournament championships four years running.
Turnovers key to success
Large advantages in the turnover department have been a hallmark of Drew Olson’s program over the years. During the 0-3 start, Concordia had just a slight edge in the turnover category having committed 60 while taking the ball away 64 times. Things have just lately. As mentioned above, the Bulldogs have been dominant in the turnover category during the win streak with 99 turnovers forced and 52 turnovers committed. It’s another sign of growth for the Bulldogs. Freshman point guard Taysha Rushton has gone back-to-back games without a turnover while coming away with three steals in both outings. Concordia is averaging 13.6 steals per game.
It’s been more of a team effort during the win streak. The Bulldogs relied perhaps too heavily upon Taylor Cockerill for scoring in the opening three games of the season. Over the past four games, Rylee Pauli (13.0 ppg) has actually been the team’s leading scorer. Other double-figure scorers during that stretch have been Cockerill (12.3), Taylor Farrell (11.5) and Taysha Rushton (11.5). Farrell came up big with three fourth-quarter treys in the victory over Dordt. In her career, Farrell is shooting 46.9 percent (45-for-96) from 3-point range.
Scouting College of Saint Mary
Kirk Walker is in his third season as head coach of the Flames. Walker hopes to build the program back up into the type of team it was in 2014-15 when it went 27-7 and reached the round of 16 at the national tournament. Millard West High School product Honnah Leo (averaging 20.3 ppg) may serve as a building block for years to come. So far this season, College of Saint Mary has dropped games against York College, Bellevue University and Briar Cliff while its lone win came over Presentation College. The Flames (who average 60.8 points per game) will again have to adjust to Concordia’s fast-paced style of play. In last season’s two meetings, Concordia routed College of Saint Mary, 127-51, and, 108-64.
Two more GPAC road games are on the horizon for next week. The Bulldogs are slated to be at Hastings (0-2, 0-1 GPAC) for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday, Dec. 2 before heading to Briar Cliff (5-0, 3-0 GPAC) for a 2 p.m. clash on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Projected Starting Lineups
Concordia (4-3, 3-1)
G – Taylor Cockerill, Jr. (17.4)
G – Averie Lambrecht, So. (2.0)
G – Taysha Rushton, Fr. (13.3)
F – Faith Troshynski, Sr. (5.5)
F – Rylee Pauli, Jr. (9.0)
College of Saint Mary (1-3, 0-1)
G – Kenzi Hoit, So. (6.3)
G/F – Honnah Leo, Fr. (20.3)
G/F – Madelyn Turner, So. (7.5)
F – Clare Lewandowski, So. (6.5)
F – Lexus Redthunder, Fr. (7.3)