Bulldogs survive scare at buzzer, hold off No. 21 DWU

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 7, 2023 in Women's Basketball

WATCH: Potential game-winning shot comes after buzzer sounds

SEWARD, Neb. – In a series that has featured many instant classic down-to-the-wire finishes, the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team and 21st-ranked Dakota Wesleyan played another heart stopper on Saturday (Jan. 7) afternoon. The Bulldogs ultimately exhaled when the Tigers’ Morgan Edelman’s 3-point shot came just after the final buzzer, resulting in a 59-58 victory for the home team. Concordia gritted it out in a game of contrasting styles. The two star DWU post players were limited to a combined 17 points.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad boosted its GPAC win streak to five while moving to 9-6 overall (7-4 GPAC). The Bulldogs are 6-2 on the home court this season.

“Awesome game – we kind of knew that going in that it was going to be a little bit different (style) game,” Olson said. “Dakota Wesleyan is great defensively, great in the halfcourt. I’m just really proud of our team. That was a gutsy win – fought really hard throughout and made some plays. (Mackenzie) Koepke made two threes, Taysha (Rushton) hit the three in the corner and we got some stuff in transition when we really needed it. Defensively, we found ways to get stops.”

Concordia showed it could win in a rock fight with the GPAC’s top rebounding team. In a contest that saw eight lead changes and six ties, the Bulldogs did just a little bit more in the clutch. Sadie Powell scored in transition and then made two free throws as part of the game’s final few minutes. With less than a minute remaining, Concordia led, 59-55. On the ensuing sequence, Jada Campbell drained a trey and the Tigers got a stop that gave them possession, trailing by one, with 1.7 seconds left on the clock.

Edelman received the ball out top and then proceeded to dribble twice toward the right wing. She hoisted a 3-point shot that went through the bottom of the net, but it came after the buzzer sounded. The Bulldogs celebrated a white-knuckle victory in which they went toe-to-toe with DWU on the boards (36-34 in the Tigers’ favor). From DWU’s perspective, it got 13 points apiece from Campbell and Rylee Rosenquist and nearly overcame 2-for-17 shooting in the opening quarter.

Concordia finished at 38 percent (19-for-50) from the floor compared to 34.4 percent (21-for-61) shooting by the Tigers (10-5, 4-5 GPAC). The 14-for-16 (.875) foul shooting by the Bulldogs proved critical. Concordia may struggle to score at times, but it has formed a scrappy identity.

Said Olson, “Early on we gave up a few too many offensive rebounds, but then we did a much better job as the game went on. I thought Abby Heemstra was awesome against Campbell. She’s a factor – she’s tough. I thought we did a nice job on (Matti) Reiner. Defensively, we were just really good … Our press wasn’t great, but we were able to adapt. I felt like we cut down on our errors today.”

Powell’s offensive emergence continues as she posted 16 points (6-for-6 on free throws) and eight rebounds. Rushton chipped in with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. Abby Krieser notched eight points and four steals and Kendal Brigham and Koepke contributed six points apiece. Heemstra gave a solid 27 minutes defending one of the league's best post players. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Toomey recorded four points, seven rebounds and two steals.

The Bulldogs can get comfortable at home as they look forward to hosting College of Saint Mary (4-12, 1-9 GPAC) at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday. This will be the first meeting of the season between the two sides. Concordia owns a 20-game series win streak over the Flames, who suffered a 72-60 home loss to Mount Marty on Saturday.