Concordia-Hastings to renew rivalry in week's lone outing

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 8, 2021 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – In the only outing of the week, the 25th-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team will host Hastings on Wednesday night. The program will use the evening to honor a group of four seniors (presentation prior to tipoff). Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad enters the week having won four in a row and six of its last seven. The Bulldogs stayed hot last week by claiming victories over Dordt and Dakota Wesleyan.

This Week

(25) Concordia (16-7, 15-5) vs. Hastings (6-15, 5-14)
Wednesday, Feb. 10 | 6 p.m.
Friedrich Arena | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 KTMX-FM Max Country
Commentator: Evan Jones


*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 199 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.

Scoring Offense: 78.6 (26th)
Scoring Defense: 66.7 (91st)
FG% Offense: .393 (T-98th)
FG% Defense: .386 (T-80th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .330 (51st)
3-pt FG% Defense: .305 (T-104th)
Free Throw%: .727 (T-37th)
Rebound Margin: +0.35 (97th)
Turnover Margin: +6.35 (18th)

Scoring Offense: 65.3 (121st)
Scoring Defense: 72.8 (158th)
FG% Offense: .383 (T-125th)
FG% Defense: .435 (183rd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .312 (81st)
3-pt FG% Defense: .332 (T-168th)
Free Throw%: .726 (40th)
Rebound Margin: -5.05 (164th)
Turnover Margin: +1.14 (T-80th)

Protocols for fans
Concordia home games: Consistent with state directed health measures, Concordia will allow up to 50 percent capacity for its home games. Fans are encouraged to purchase advance tickets online ( Tickets will also be sold at the door, provided capacity limits have not been reached via online sales.
--NOTE: All GPAC events require fans to wear face coverings. To review specific COVID-19 protocols for the GPAC and its member institutions, visit:

Recent action
As part of a challenging week, the Bulldogs made a statement with a road victory over Dordt, 77-71, and a home win over Dakota Wesleyan, 76-69. Those results put Concordia in prime position to finish as high as second in the GPAC standings. In the triumph in Sioux Center, Iowa, (the final road game of the regular season), the Bulldogs beat the Defenders at their own game while outrebounding them, 49-44. Concordia frustrated Dordt by grabbing 22 offensive boards, including eight by Rylee Pauli, who pulled down a career high 14 rebounds (to go with 13 points). Taylor Cockerill was aggressive on the attack in scoring a game high 26 points. Three days later, Cockerill (10 points, 12 rebounds) turned in her fourth double-double of the season. Taysha Rushton led the way in the scoring department with 23 points as the Bulldogs avenged a loss earlier this season at Dakota Wesleyan. Five others had seven or more points: Mackenzie Koepke (11), Taylor Farrell (eight), Pauli (eight), Bailey Conrad (seven) and Rebecca Higgins (seven).

Olson joins 400 club
After last week’s pair of victories, Drew Olson now owns a career head coaching record of 401-105 since taking over the program prior to the 2006-07 season. Olson became the winningest coach in program history in November 2014 when he passed Carl Everts (195 wins). Olson now owns the second most wins of any basketball coach in school history, behind only Grant Schmidt, who led the men’s program to a record of 445-276 from 1989-2012. Olson played for Schmidt for three seasons and helped the Bulldogs reach two national tournaments. According to NAIA records, Olson is one of 14 active NAIA women’s basketball coaches with at least 400 wins.

Ball security
Without pressing as frequently as previous seasons, Concordia has forced fewer turnovers from its opponents (21.3 per game this season as compared to 31.4 per game last season). However, the Bulldogs remain one of the nation’s best teams in terms of turnover margin. Part of the reason for that has been Concordia’s ability to take care of the ball (averaging 15.3 turnovers per game). Last week, the Bulldogs put up their two lowest single-game turnover totals of the season – eight at Dordt and six versus Dakota Wesleyan. Freshman point guard Taysha Rushton has turned it over just once over the past three games in 75 minutes of action.

Hitting the boards
As a program, Concordia has been known for forcing turnovers, making 3-point field goals and dictating up-tempo basketball – but not necessarily for rebounding. Last week, offensive rebounding was a major plus as the Bulldogs grabbed 22 at Dordt and 15 versus Dakota Wesleyan. With its recent uptick on the boards, Concordia now has a positive rebound margin (+0.35) for the season. This team doesn’t have a Philly Lammers in the post, but Taylor Cockerill (6.7 rebounds per game) helps make up for it with her tenacity from the guard position. In addition, Rylee Pauli (5.3) and Mackenzie Koepke (5.1) are contributing more than five rebounds per contest.

Celebrating the senior class
Prior to tipoff on Wednesday, the program will honor a group of four seniors: Taylor Cockerill, Rebecca Higgins, Emily Jones and Faith Troshynski. It’s worth noting, that both Cockerill and Higgins are listed as juniors on the roster in reflection of their athletic eligibility. However, each of the four seniors is on track to graduate this May. Cockerill is the most accomplished in terms of career accolades. The Waverly High School product led the 2018-19 national championship team in scoring and was named a first team All-GPAC and honorable mention All-America selection that season. She missed the 2019-20 season due to injury. Over 98 career games, Cockerill has totaled 1,254 points, 450 rebounds, 229 assists and 150 steals. Higgins has now been a three-year varsity contributor while Troshynski is in her first season playing for the Bulldogs after transferring from Briar Cliff. Emily Jones is serves the program as a manager.

GPAC update
With the regular season now winding down, the eight teams that will qualify for the GPAC tournament have already been decided. Now it’s about playing for seeding. Morningside is locked into the No. 1 spot as the regular-season champion. Concordia (15-5) has the inside track in the race for the No. 2 seed while Northwestern (14-5) and Briar Cliff (14-7) still have a mathematical shot. The Bulldogs do not have to worry about what happens behind them, so long as they win their final two regular-season games. In the current standings, only one game separates the teams that are sitting 5 through eight.

Scouting Hastings
The Broncos have struggled to recover from the graduation of the bulk of their star players from the 2019-20 team that went 30-3 overall. Hastings’ season will end along with the regular season on Feb. 20. Now in her sixth season, Head Coach Jina Douglas had led the program to national tournament appearances in each of the previous five years. Veterans such as senior Kaitlyn Schmit and Taylor Beacom have experienced plenty of success and are the team’s top scorers. After starting out 3-3 in GPAC play, Hastings has gone 2-11 in conference games. Concordia has won 11 of the last 12 meetings over the Broncos.

Looking ahead
The Bulldogs will have the weekend off and will close the regular season by hosting Doane on Saturday, Feb. 20. Concordia has clinched a home game for the GPAC tournament quarterfinals set for Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Projected Starters

Concordia (16-7, 15-5)
G – Taylor Cockerill, Jr. (14.6)
G – Bailey Conrad, Fr. (4.1)
G – Taysha Rushton, Fr. (13.7)
F – Mackenzie Koepke, Jr. (7.5)
F – Rylee Pauli, Jr. (6.7)

Hastings (6-15, 5-14)
G – Taylor Beacom, Jr. (9.6)
G – Kaitlyn Schmit, Sr. (11.5)
G – Ali Smith, Jr. (8.5)
F – Natalia Dick, Fr. (6.0)
F – Carley Leners, Fr. (9.1)