By Sam Firminhac, Athletic Communications
SEWARD, Neb. – The Dordt Defenders narrowly escaped Fredrich Arena with their win streak intact on Saturday (Feb. 5). The 23rd-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter but were outscored, 25-14, over the game’s final 10 minutes, ultimately falling 76-69. The Bulldogs slipped despite shooting a slightly higher percentage from the floor (48.6 to 46.3).
Concordia (13-11, 10-8 GPAC) has dropped five of its last six conference games, although the past week was encouraging having also included a blowout win at Midland. Considering that Dordt has been one of the nation’s hottest teams, Head Coach Drew Olson was not disappointed in the way his squad played in the loss.
Said Olson, “(Dordt) is a really good basketball team. They showed their toughness down the stretch, and to win in this league you have to have that. I thought it was two really good teams playing great basketball – they were just the more disciplined team down the stretch and probably just a little more mentally tough than us. I felt like our team played pretty well. I’m not disappointed in them. We’ve just got to keep working at getting better and we’ll be right there.”
Taysha Ruston led the Bulldogs in scoring with 20 points, managing to go 3-for-7 behind the arc in the contest. Sadie Powell put together a solid performance, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Bailey Conrad was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 11 points and was two assists short of a double-double with eight. Already a terrific defender, Abby Krieser came off the bench to add two 3-pointers, finishing with six points. Concordia shot just over 48 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc on the afternoon.
“You can see the progress there,” Olson said. “We’re just continuing to look for that consistency. If Sadie (Powell) and Mackenzie (Toomey), and others can play that well every day, we're in really good shape. I'm really proud of AK (Krieser). She’s worked very hard and is starting to get some opportunities and is taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Dordt swept the season series against Concordia. With the win, the Defenders improve to 20-6 (13-5 GPAC) on the season. Two players scored 20-plus points for Dordt – Bailey Beckman with 26 and Karly Gustafson with 20. Gustafson also had 10 boards for the Defenders. Ashtyn Veerbeek also played a large role with 13 points and 9 rebounds. A candidate for GPAC Player of the Year honors, Veerbeek was held scoreless in the opening half before emerging down the stretch. Physically imposing Dordt owned a 40-25 advantage on the boards and shot 23-for-29 from the foul line.
The Bulldogs led by one (67-66) with less than three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Veerbeek went to work by powering in a layup in the final minute to make it 72-67. The Defender star also emerged with a key block that helped put the game away in the closing seconds. Concordia led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Concordia will make the trip to Crete, Neb., on Wednesday to take on conference rival Doane (10-16, 4-14 GPAC). The Bulldogs narrowly survived the Tigers’ upset bid on New Year’s Day when the two sides battled into overtime (76-70 win). Tipoff from the Haddix Center is set for 6 p.m. CT.