Bulldogs stave off upset-minded Mount Marty, pull away in fourth quarter

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 6, 2023 in Women's Basketball

YANKTON, S.D. – It wasn’t until a late surge in the third quarter that the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team was finally able to open up a comfortable advantage. The Bulldogs got all they bargained for in Yankton, S.D., where they ultimately defeated Mount Marty, 77-57, behind 22 points from Taysha Rushton on Wednesday (Dec. 6) night. In terms of margin of victory, this was the closest Bulldog-Lancer meeting since the 2018-19 season in a series dominated by Concordia (15 wins in a row).

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad got back into the win column after its first loss of the season came this past weekend. The seventh-ranked Bulldogs have moved to 7-1 overall (5-1 GPAC). This marked career coaching win No. 450 for Olson.

“A win’s a win, it’s on the road – we weren’t pretty today,” Olson said. “I do feel like in the fourth quarter we started to become ourselves again. It comes down to we have to hit our shots. We had some good looks in the first half and didn’t hit them, which made the game more interesting than it should have been. The effort’s always there. We play really hard, but we have to start making shots again like we did early in the season, and we will.”

A spirited Mount Marty squad hung within one (24-23) with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and did not face a double-digit deficit until Sammy Leu sank a trey at the 1:02 mark of the third quarter. Rushton and company had to hold off a big-time performance from guard Kaela Martinez, who splashed home 6-of-10 tries from 3-point range and poured in a game high 24 points. Martinez and her teammates ran out of firepower in the final quarter. The Lancers were held to 35.7 percent (20-for-56) shooting for the game.

Offensively, Concordia started sluggish while being plagued by turnovers and cold perimeter shooting. After halftime, the Bulldogs finally turned it on and played like a top 10 team. The visitors went 5-for-11 from 3-point range over the final quarter in pulling away. Rushton made 8-of-17 shots overall and swiped three steals. She was joined in double figures by teammates Abby Krieser (17), Sadie Powell (12) and Leu (11). The hot stretch to end the game pushed Concordia to 39.5 percent (30-for-76) shooting for the night. It went 11-for-40 from long range.

Mount Marty (3-7, 1-5 GPAC) seemingly put together its best performance of the season to date. The Lancers outrebounded the Bulldogs, 38-34, and limited their turnovers to 23 in the face of a nasty full-court press. Sidney Thue backed Martinez with 14 points and eight rebounds. The one conference win for Mount Marty came over College of Saint Mary.

Olson went 13 deep on his roster. Five rebounds apiece were contributed by Abby Heemstra, Powell and Rushton. Brigham and Leu saw the most extensive minutes off the bench while helping spell Mackenzie Toomey (who picked her fourth foul early in the third quarter). In continuing to expand her offensive game, Krieser pushed her season scoring average to 12.3.

Said Olson, “I thought AK was awesome tonight. She kind of kept us afloat in the first half when nobody could make anything. She did a great job of getting to the rim and finishing. Taysha also responded well in the second half and played great. We’ve got a really good team. It’s a long season. You go through some ups and downs. We’re still trying to figure some things out, but the fourth quarter was a good sign.”

It will be a top 10 matchup in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday when the Bulldogs head to No. 9 Briar Cliff (9-1, 5-1 GPAC) for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff from the Newman Flanagan Center. In another showdown on Wednesday, the Chargers were beaten at home by No. 2 Dordt, 81-63. Briar Cliff won all three of last season's meetings with Concordia, including one in the semifinals of the GPAC tournament.