PLAINVIEW, Texas – The shots were falling early for a Concordia University Women’s Basketball team that claimed a significant résumé building victory on Saturday (Nov. 27). Native Texan Taysha Rushton and the 21st-ranked Bulldogs built a first-half lead as large as 18 points on the way to a 76-66 upset of third-ranked Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Off the bench, Taylor Farrell supplied 17 points in helping fuel the victory.
The Queens got within six points in the second half, but Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad always had an answer. This one was not quite as dramatic as Tuesday’s 69-67 win at the buzzer over Jamestown. Concordia has moved to 5-3 overall.
“We’re getting better together and hopefully finding some consistency,” Olson said. “We still have a long way to go before we have that, but it was good to see our team clicking and playing well together – all sharing it. It was nice for Taysha to be close to home and play in front of family. Some of the players on Wayland were club teammates. I think she did a good job of staying in the moment and not trying to do too much too often. It was a lot of fun.”
The previously unbeaten Queens (8-1) entered the weekend carrying a 50-game home winning streak. That streak already seemed to be in jeopardy when the Bulldogs rattled off the first 13 points, including nine from Rushton, who played in front of a large gathering of family in her home state. From that point on, Concordia got contributions throughout the rotation. Farrell splashed in her first four attempts from long range and the Bulldogs enjoyed a 31-13 lead early in the second quarter.
Wayland Baptist did not surrender while led by a nucleus featuring Jenna Cooper, Kaitlyn Edgemon and Kaylee Edgemon. That trio combined for 44 points while being paced by the 16 apiece from the Edgemons. A key sequence occurred just after halftime when the Queens quickly got within six. Midway through the third quarter, Concordia responded with a trey from Sadie Powell and three-point play from Farrell and led, 59-47.
A sharpshooter from Omaha, Farrell led all scorers with 17 points. Rushton added 15 points and five assists in her return to Texas. Eight different Bulldogs tallied at least six points, including Abby Heemstra (nine), Rylee Pauli (eight), Lauren Baker (six), Kendal Brigham (six), Bailey Conrad (six) and Mackenzie Toomey (six). Conrad also dropped six dimes and Pauli led the way on the boards with nine rebounds. Concordia slightly lost the turnover (17-13) and rebounding (40-39) battles.
The first half painted a picture of just how dangerous the Bulldogs can be. Over the first 20 minutes, they shot 51.4 percent overall and made 9-of-17 shots from beyond the arc. Concordia withstood a second quarter run by the Queens and held the advantage, 49-39, at the break. A 2-for-18 second-half shooting performance from 3-point range by Wayland Baptist made it a challenge to dig out of the hole.
Said Olson, “I love that we have the toughness and confidence to play against anybody. It helps us in terms of national rankings and national tournament, but it also just helps us have that toughness going back into the GPAC. We have two more of these types of (nonconference) games when we go to Hawaii. As long we stay focused on getting better, I like where we’re going.”
GPAC play will resume on Wednesday with a trip to Sioux City, Iowa, and a matchup with last season’s arch nemesis Morningside (5-2, 3-0 GPAC). The 12th-ranked Mustangs have jumped out to a 3-0 start inside the conference with wins over Dakota Wesleyan, Dordt and Doane.