GPAC opener brings another blowout victory

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 15, 2017 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – A flurry to end the first half propelled the third-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team to yet another blowout victory. In Wednesday night’s (Nov. 15) GPAC opener, the Bulldogs thumped visiting Midland, 85-63, inside Walz Arena, a consistent house of horrors for the opposition. Concordia has won each of its last 24 contests at home.

Still undefeated, 12th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has moved to 5-0 overall. Two of those victories have come against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. The latest triumph dealt a loss to solid conference foe that had won three of its first five games.

“We’ve got to keep getting better every game. That’s what we told our kids after the game,” Olson said. “We still have stuff to build on and hopefully this is a good learning lesson for us. Our focus and our energy level just wasn’t where it needs to be.”

“Just keep chucking” (13 3-point field goals on Wednesday) is the motto used by this Bulldog hoops team that continues to feature a gnat-like zone pressure. Once it turns you over, Concordia wants to score easy buckets in transition and pull the trigger on plenty of long-range bombs. A movie we’ve seen before played out again inside Walz. Six different Bulldogs nailed at least one triple and every player who suited it up saw action.

Concordia simply had Midland (3-3, 0-1 GPAC) outclassed. Point guard MacKenzie Helman had a nice night, totaling 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. She’s started each of the first five games at the point, a spot held down last season by Shelby Quinn.

“I tried to take as much information from Shelby Quinn as possible,” Helman said. “She was an amazing point guard. I try to distribute the ball to our great shooters like Mary (Janovich) and Dani (Hoppes) and then get it in to Quinn (Wragge) and Philly (Lammers). Of course we have Taylor (Cockerill) which is just a different look at the point guard position. I think it will really benefit us this year.”

After Midland led 9-7 midway through the opening quarter, the Bulldogs said enough was enough. They ended the period on a 12-0 run and gained a 19-9 advantage. The lead ballooned to as many as 20 points in the opening half as Concordia put together its best stretch of play on this particular night. Four Bulldogs other than Helman reached double figures: Brenleigh Daum (17 points), Quinn Wragge (15 points, six rebounds), Dani Hoppes (13 points, 3-for-7 from 3-point range) and Sydney Feller (10 points).

Continued development of younger players like Helman will make this team even more dangerous. Said Olson of Helman, “She’s someone that can really help us because she’s a really good shooter and a really good passer. She’s just got to keep getting more experience and get that confidence. Tonight was a really good night for her.”

There were positives, but Olson also expects his team to be better next time out. It committed 16 turnovers and scored only one point over the final six minutes of the game. The Bulldogs were plus-seven in turnovers and held a slight 45-44 advantage on the boards.

Midland marquee player Joelle Overkamp paced her squad with 17 points. Former Bulldog Maddie Egr started the game and chipped in 10 points and five rebounds. The Warriors were held to 37.1 percent (23-for-62) shooting.

A pair of unbeaten teams will meet on Saturday when a road showdown with No. 8 Dakota Wesleyan (6-0, 1-0 GPAC) will tip off at 2 p.m. CT in Mitchell, S.D. The home team won each of last season’s three meetings, including the GPAC tournament championship game played in Seward. In Wednesday’s action, the Tigers toppled Dordt, 85-55, at The Corn Palace.