SEWARD, Neb. – Winner of four-straight GPAC tournament championships, the Concordia University Women’s Basketball program enters the 2021 postseason as the league’s No. 2 seed. In three of the four GPAC tournament title games, the Bulldogs went up against Dakota Wesleyan. Those same two rivals now look forward to meeting up on Wednesday in the GPAC quarterfinals. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad carries a six-game win streak into action. Concordia is 4-0 so far in the month of February.
(22) Concordia (18-7, 17-5) vs. Dakota Wesleyan (14-10, 12-10)
Wednesday, Feb. 24 | 7 p.m.
Friedrich Arena | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 KTMX-FM Max Country
Commentator: Parker Cyza
Buy Tickets: https://www.cune.edu/athletics/tickets
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s will be admitted free of charge.
*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 202 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.
Scoring Offense: 79.4 (20th)
Scoring Defense: 66.2 (94th)
FG% Offense: .398 (T-92nd)
FG% Defense: .381 (T-72nd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .328 (T-49th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .300 (T-85th)
Free Throw%: .731 (39th)
Rebound Margin: +0.2 (100th)
Turnover Margin: +6.60 (18th)
Scoring Offense: 69.8 (77th)
Scoring Defense: 61.5 (48th)
FG% Offense: .413 (T-62nd)
FG% Defense: .361 (T-26th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .333 (T-37th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .319 (T-146th)
Free Throw%: 722 (54th)
Rebound Margin: +7.0 (27th)
Turnover Margin: +0.83 (83rd)
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 (https://www.cune.edu/athletics/tickets). 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: http://www.gpacsports.com/gpac-covid19-fan-protocols.
The Bulldogs played only once last week as the regular season concluded. They blitzed Doane with a 33-11 scoring advantage in the opening quarter. All 14 Concordia players registered in the scoring column in a 98-57 victory. The Bulldogs have won 10-straight meetings with the Tigers, including six in a row by margins of at least 40 points. Mackenzie Koepke went 4-for-7 from 3-point range while dropping in a season high 17 points. Taylor Cockerill (12) and Averie Lambrecht (11) also reached double figures while Cockerill plucked six steals. Lambrecht’s point total represented a career high.
Strong finish to regular season
It's easy to forget it now, but Concordia began the season at 0-3 with all three losses suffered on its home court. Those results were unheard of for a program that had gone a combined 63-1 at home over the previous four seasons. But the 2020-21 Bulldogs proved the sky wasn’t falling by going 18-4 the rest of the regular season with a home mark of 9-1 during that stretch. Concordia has won six in a row overall and eight of its last nine. The only defeat over the past nine outings was a 66-64 home loss at the hands of GPAC regular season champion Morningside. The strong close to the regular season has put the Bulldogs in at-large national tournament consideration (should they fail to grab an automatic bid). Concordia was ranked 22nd in the most recent NAIA poll.
Cockerill’s place in school history
Taylor Cockerill will likely be a first team All-GPAC choice, just as she was in her most recent healthy season (2018-19). Cockerill’s shooting percentages this season are remarkably similar to her 2018-19 campaign. She’s currently shooting 41.3 percent from the floor, 36.4 percent from 3-point range and 77.9 percent from the free throw line (compared to respective percentages of 40.3, 36.2 and 77.4 in ’18-19). Cockerill is the only player in program history with at least 1,200 points, 450 rebounds, 230 assists, 160 steals and 140 3-point field goals for a career. Cockerill passed Tracy Peitz (1,277) last week for 18th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,281 points.
Off the bench
The bench has gotten plenty of run time in the past two wins (over Hastings and Doane). As mentioned above, Averie Lambrecht achieved a career high of 11 points this past weekend. In addition, Wahoo High School product Kendal Brigham made her first varsity appearance since Jan. 13 and knocked down 3-of-4 attempts from 3-point range. From a statistical perspective, sophomore Taylor Farrell has been the team’s most counted-upon weapon off the bench. She’s averaging 7.6 points while shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range. On the interior, Kayla Luebbe (5.8 ppg, 64.6 FG%) has been an efficient scoring option.
GPAC tournament success
As a byproduct of four GPAC tournament titles in a row, Concordia owns an active GPAC postseason win streak of 12. The victims during that stretch have been Dakota Wesleyan (three times), Briar Cliff (twice), Hastings (twice), Midland (twice), Dordt, Morningside and Northwestern. All three victories over DWU have come in the GPAC tournament final. A year ago, the Bulldogs toppled Hastings in the conference postseason championship game. Under Drew Olson, Concordia has never lost a GPAC tournament title game (6-0).
GPAC Championship Games, program history
2020 – vs. Hastings | W, 60-49
2019 – vs. Dakota Wesleyan | W, 75-63
2018 – vs. Dakota Wesleyan | W, 90-88
2017 – vs. Dakota Wesleyan | W, 78-77 (OT)
2015 – at Morningside | W, 80-72
2012 – vs. Morningside | W, 73-66
2005 – at Morningside | W, 47-35
2004 – at Morningside | L, 63-76
GPAC tournament bracket
As the No. 2 seed, Concordia will have an opportunity to host in the GPAC semifinals if it can beat Dakota Wesleyan on Wednesday. The Bulldogs can earn an automatic bid to the national tournament by winning the conference tournament or by finishing as the postseason runner up to No. 1 Morningside. Here are the Feb. 24 quarterfinal matchups.
No. 8 Jamestown (15-10, 12-10) at No. 1 Morningside (23-2, 21-1), 6 p.m.
No. 5 Dordt (15-10, 14-8) at No. 4 Briar Cliff (16-9, 14-8), 7 p.m.
No. 6 Midland (15-10, 12-10) at No. 3 Northwestern (16-9, 16-6), 6 p.m.
No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan (14-10, 12-10) at No. 2 Concordia (18-7, 17-5), 7 p.m.
Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
The Tigers have competed closely with Concordia this season, winning at the Corn Palace, 85-80, and falling at Friedrich Arena, 76-69. Dakota Wesleyan ranks as one of the league’s top defensive teams, landing at No. 1 in field goal percentage defense (.361) and No. 2 in scoring defense (61.5). Head Coach Jason Christensen’s squad has remained at a high level with the help of freshman Haidyn Pitsch, who leads the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game. DWU will make a GPAC postseason trip to Seward for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Concordia/DWU winner will advance to Saturday’s GPAC semifinals and play either third-seeded Northwestern or sixth-seeded Midland. Game time is to be determined. The GPAC championship game will be played on Tuesday, March 2.
Concordia (18-7, 17-5)
G – Taylor Cockerill, Jr. (15.0)
G – Bailey Conrad, Fr. (4.2)
G – Taysha Rushton, Fr. (13.3)
F – Mackenzie Koepke, Jr. (7.5)
F – Rylee Pauli, Jr. (6.7)
Dakota Wesleyan (14-10, 12-10)
G – Kaylee Kirk, Jr. (5.9)
G – Rynn Osthus, So. (6.5)
G – Haidyn Pitsch, Fr. (14.5)
F – Matti Reiner, So. (13.6)
C – Jada Campbell, Jr. (11.1)