Concordia makes trip to Grand Canyon State for two nonconference contests

By Chase Benton on Dec. 13, 2023 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia has two games left in 2023, starting with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) on Monday night (Dec. 18), then finishing with Arizona Christian University the day after (Dec. 19). The Dawgs split their last two matchups, winning their first by 20 (77-57) against Mount Marty in Yankton. With a big conference game on this past Saturday (Dec. 9), the then-ranked No. 7 Concordia took on No. 9 Briar Cliff in an early conference battle between two titans. The visiting Bulldogs would fall (74-66) to the Chargers in their second conference loss. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad is now settled at 7-2 on the year and 5-2 in the conference.

This Week

Monday, Dec. 18 at Embry-Riddle (3-6), 6:30 p.m. CT

-- Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: ERAU Activity Center (Prescott, Ariz.)

Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Arizona Christian (7-2), 2 p.m. CT

-- Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: ACU Events Center (Glendale, Ariz.)

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By the numbers

·        The Lancers hung around far longer than the casual fan might have thought, but Concordia showed grit in the road win last Wednesday (Dec. 6), pulling away in the final quarter. The Dawgs went on a 27-11 scoring run in the final frame, reaching their biggest lead (23) of the game with under two minutes left to play. Taysha Rushton collected a team high 22 points for her 10th straight (since Mar. 7) double-digit performance. Rushton added five rebounds, with Abby Krieser totaling 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Sadie Powell found her groove with 12 points and five rebounds, as Leu hit 11 points with three from beyond the arc.

·        A slow start and a struggle to get stops in the closing minutes doomed Concordia University Women’s Basketball team in a clash between top 10 teams in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday (Dec. 9). The Bulldogs went from down 17 points in the second quarter to leading by five in the final period. Ultimately, Konnor Sudmann and No. 9 Briar Cliff came through in the clutch and won, 74-66, inside the Newman Flanagan Center. Concordia was limited to 34.8 percent shooting for the afternoon. Rushton was one rebound shy of a double-double (23 points, nine rebounds) in her season high point performance, while also adding three assists. Krieser snagged 11 points and five rebounds, as Powell added 10 points (3rd consecutive double-digit game) and seven rebounds.

·        Abby Krieser (AK) is 30 points from reaching 500 in her career. She has averaged 8.1 through her time as a Bulldog but has improved her percentage each year. The Lincoln North Star High School product has tallied 12.1 points per game through the current season, with her career high (24) coming against Morningside on Nov. 15. She is paced to surpass the mark against Jamestown on Jan. 3, but has the potential to make the feat in Arizona.

·        Concordia’s first nine opponents have averaged 24.1 turnovers per game (8th in NAIA) and have totaled 217 turnovers forced. One hundred and twenty seven of those turnovers have come via steals, which earns the defense 10th in NAIA in that category. Mackenzie Toomey leads the team with 24 (2.7 PG) and had the team high (three) versus Briar Cliff. She is 16 steals away from 150 in her career.

· It’s been since Nov. 29 that the NAIA released a new coaches poll’ until now. Having played four games since CUNE was ranked No. 7, the Bulldogs have gone 2-2 with wins over Midland and Mount Marty. This resulted in a ranking drop to No. 11 and No. 3 in the conference. With Indiana Wesleyan losing a game, GPAC conference member Dordt is now ranked No. 1 in the poll. Briar Cliff moves up to No. 8 after defeating the Bulldogs on Saturday, giving the conference three teams in the top 11. Northwestern is the only other team mentioned, as they are receiving votes in the current poll.

Concordia Projected Starting Five
G – Mackenzie Toomey, 5-9 (6.2)
G – Taysha Rushton, 5-5 (17.0)
G – Abby Krieser, 5-8 (12.1)
F – Sadie Powell, 6-0 (9.7)
F – Kristin Vieselmeyer, 6-1 (6.7)


The Eagles come into the matchup with a 3-6 record, having lost their last two games versus Park University-Gilbert (59-49) and Benedictine University-Mesa (68-64). Their last wins came against UC Merced (69-59) of California and Simpson University (57-55) of California. Through nine games, Embry-Riddle has averaged 59.8 points per game and a 35.7 field goal percentage. They average 35 rebounds a game, while allowing 14.1 turnovers per game. Their leading scorer Zakiirah King at 10.4 points per game and leading rebounder with 5.2 per game. Susia Reynoso is not far behind in points, averaging almost 10 (9.8) points every 40 minutes.

Embry-Riddle Projected Starting Five
G – Aryana Gonzales, 5-2 (3.9)
G – Susie Reynoso, 5-9 (9.8)
G – Meghan Strickler, 5-10 (4.4)
G – Micaela Hidalgo, 5-8 (6.6)
F – Zakiirah King, 6-0 (10.4)

Arizona Christian

The Firestorm are 7-2 coming into the week, with their best win coming against No. 5 ranked Carroll College (77-74) of Montana. They have won their last two games against Benedictine University-Mesa (82-67) and Justice College (92-41) of Arizona. Having played nine games, they have averaged 73.1 points per game, while allowing 64.1. ACU has a field goal percentage of 39.3 and 32.1 from the perimeter. They average 43 rebounds per 40 minutes and 11.6 turnovers per game. Lauren Gunn averages team highs with 20.5 points per game and 3.3 assists per game. Alyssa Alvarez, not far behind, averages 19.2 points per game and a team high 2.1 steals per game. Post Emily Till collects double-digit rebounds (10.8) a game for Embry-Riddle so far this year.

Arizona Christian Projected Starting Five
G – Lauren Gunn, 5-7 (20.5)
G – Alyssa Alvarez, 5-11 (19.2)
G – Kayla Clark, 5-4 (3.9)
F – Halle Payne, 5-9 (13.4)
C – Emily Till, 6-0 (5.7)

Next week

Concordia will be done for 2023 following these two games. With the aim of improving their record before the season’s end, the Bulldogs will travel for a revenge game on Jan. 3, after falling to Jamestown earlier in the year. They will return to Friedrich Arena to face Dakota Wesleyan for the first time this campaign on Jan. 6, breaking the drought of home games since Dec. 2.