SEWARD, Neb. – After struggling in a loss to a strong opponent on Friday, the ninth-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team responded in a way that isn’t so surprising for those who have followed the program. There was a bit of a revenge factor in play on Saturday (Nov. 6) with the Bulldogs determined not to let Dakota State beat them on the home court for a second year in a row. The dynamic post duo of Abby Heemstra and Rylee Pauli powered an 88-80 Cattle Classic win over the 13th-ranked Trojans.
Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad is going to take a little time to gel as an entire unit, but it proved it can play with a highly ranked opponent on Saturday. Concordia is 2-1 on the season.
“Those were two really, really good teams,” Olson said. “That felt like a national tournament slugfest. I’m really proud of our players for responding to yesterday. They met the challenge and really stepped up and made big-time plays. Rylee Pauli was amazing. She’s just so good on both ends of the floor. I was really happy to see a lot of our players stepping up. We need more contributions outside of Taysha (Rushton).”
It’s time to put some respect on Pauli’s name. She’s a pain to play against because her motor never stops. The Millard South High School alum just missed another double-double while posting 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals on Saturday. Alongside her, Heemstra is growing up quickly. The freshman from Rock Valley, Iowa, collected 19 points and eight rebounds while providing a strong inside presence.
Even so, Dakota State (4-3) led for most of the first three quarters (lead as large as eight points) until Rushton drained a triple at the close of the third stanza. It seemed to be the spark the Bulldogs needed. It jump-started a 16-3 run that put Concordia up 12 (70-58). The Bulldogs were in control from that point on while claiming a much-needed win after Friday’s 84-66 loss to No. 18 Sterling College (Kan.).
Said Olson, “I think our players did an incredible job finishing every quarter. That was a big emphasis just to compete and win every quarter. I though our kids did a great job of that … We didn’t shoot well in the two games at the Cattle Classic, but I know it’s going to come.”
Concordia owned a plus-nine advantage in turnovers, helping it overcome 6-for-27 shooting from 3-point range. Rushton poured in 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. Sadie Powell (11) and Mackenzie Toomey (10) also reached double figures in scoring while Kayla Luebbe chipped in with eight points.
The Trojans got 15 points apiece from Jessi Giles, Courtney Menning and Savannah Walsdorf. Former Bulldog Elsie Alsesen posted five points on 1-for-7 shooting. Last season, Dakota State visited for the Cattle Classic and walked away from Seward with a 94-82 win over Concordia.
The Bulldogs will return to action next Saturday (Nov. 13) for their GPAC opener with Briar Cliff. Tipoff from Sioux City, Iowa, is slated for 5 p.m. CT. The Chargers are 1-1 with a win over Dickinson State University (N.D.).
2021 All-Cattle Classic Team
Bailey Albright, Sterling
Emma Hendrixson, Sterling
Lauren James, Taylor
Taysha Rushton, Concordia
Savannah Walsdorf, Dakota State