Defensive smothering keys road win over Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 10, 2022 in Women's Basketball

HASTINGS, Neb. – The first half was tightly contested until the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team ended it on a 13-0 run and seized control. Once again, the defensive prowess of the Bulldogs was the story in a clash that resulted in a 70-57 win over host Hastings inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Saturday (Dec. 10). Concordia’s pesky backcourt took on a leading role as the Broncos were limited to 32.7 percent shooting and flustered into 22 turnovers.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has won back-to-back GPAC games and three of its last four outings while picking up steam. Concordia has moved to 6-4 overall (4-4 GPAC).

“I thought we played really well in spurts,” Olson said. “I didn’t think it was one of our better games, but we had a couple of good runs. It was great composure because we were down five and then went on that run. Then in the second half we had another one to extend it to about a 20-point lead. It was good enough for us.”

This was an overall solid outing for the Bulldogs, who effectively controlled a Hastings team that had been 3-0 in December with an upset of 11th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan. The aforementioned 13-0 surge began with an Abby Heemstra bucket that seesawed Concordia back in front, 25-24. Taysha Rushton soon followed with a pair of triples. The lead swelled to 12 (36-24) at the break and the Bulldogs maintained an advantage of double digits the rest of the way. Then in the fourth quarter, Concordia put together a 10-1 run, featuring Abby Krieser, and owned a commanding 62-39 lead.

Three days after netting 21 treys versus Mount Marty, the Bulldogs cooled off a bit but still went 10-for-29 from beyond the arc. It’s not offensive firepower that has characterized Concordia, it’s been tenacious defensive play that covers every square foot of the court. The Broncos (6-5, 4-3 GPAC) made only four treys on Saturday and never found much consistency until the game was already out of reach. Three steals apiece were pilfered by Krieser, Rushton and Mackenzie Toomey.

Said Olson, “Our press was really effective. It got them out of rhythm and also caused some turnovers. We want to play fast, but there were times where it was slow and choppy.”

The game for the Lincoln North Star grad Krieser continues to grow. She totaled 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in addition to the three steals. In addition, the star Rushton enjoyed an efficient performance in pouring in 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Heemstra added eight points and Toomey supplied five points and six boards. Led by six points apiece from Megan Belt and Kendal Brigham, the bench contributed a combined 24 points.

Concordia has won six of the last seven series matchups over Hastings. The Broncos were paced in the scoring department on Saturday by Carley Leners with 13 points. Knode Dawson chipped in eight points and nine rebounds off the bench. The two sides were even in rebounding (40-40), but the turnover category (plus-seven for the Bulldogs) turned out to be a major factor in the outcome.

The Bulldogs will wait until Thursday to return to action. On that day, Concordia will welcome Doane (7-4, 3-4 GPAC) to Friedrich Arena for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff. The Bulldogs have won each of the past 12 meetings over the Tigers, who feature the conference’s leading scorer in Mak Hatcliff (22.8 points per game).