CRETE, Neb. – Host Doane found ways to break down the normally stingy Bulldogs, but the star power of Taysha Rushton helped her side escape danger on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Haddix Center in Crete. Concordia Women’s Basketball drained 13-of-23 shots during a white hot third quarter that made the 92-80 victory possible. The Tigers led both of this season’s regular season meetings at the half before the Bulldogs turned up the heat over the final 20 minutes. In the latest meeting, Rushton went wild with 14 of her game high 27 points splashing home in the third quarter.
Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has gone 11-2 over its last 13 GPAC outings in the process of moving to 17-8 overall (13-6 GPAC). Concordia received votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll released earlier in the day.
“In that first half we didn’t have the energy or the focus we needed,” Olson said. “We were giving up so many offensive rebounds and loose ball plays. We responded extremely well in the second half with great energy and great focus – and it always helps when you hit a lot of shots. I just think we played a lot harder and played a lot more together. We were talking better defensively and tweaked our press just a little bit. The big difference was our players played harder.”
The formula on Wednesday looked a bit different than the one the Bulldogs have used throughout most of their surge since the middle of the season. Instead of grinding it out defensively, Concordia rained in 15-of-32 shots from 3-point range and erased what had been a 12-point deficit in the third quarter. While it’s true that the reigning GPAC Player of the Week Rushton has been on a tear, she didn’t do it alone at Doane. Abby Krieser reset her own career high and racked up 18 of her 23 tallies after halftime.
In running their series win streak to 14, the Bulldogs used a 13-0 spurt in the third quarter and then an 11-0 back-breaker of a run in the fourth to leave the Tigers (13-12, 7-12 GPAC) in the dust. The latter run made it an 80-66 advantage with fewer than six minutes to play. Rushton and Krieser went back-to-back from long range to cap it.
Said Olson, “Taysha was incredible and so was AK again. Both of them continue to play at a high level. I thought our post players in the first half got beat up, but in the second half they were the difference. They did such a good job helping on Chambers, helping on drives and getting rebounds. I also thought (Mackenzie) Koepke and Kendal (Brigham) did a great job giving us a lift off the bench.”
From an offensive standpoint, Brigham kept things from getting away from Concordia in the first half. She tallied 11 of her 12 points in the opening 20 minutes and added eight assists to her stat line. Sadie Powell chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds while Koepke came off the bench to supply six points, two blocked shots and a team high eight rebounds. The Bulldogs shot 46.3 percent (31-for-67) overall from the floor.
On the other side, star Mak Hatcliff was the headliner in posting 18 points and 10 rebounds. Doane (which led 46-36 at the break) managed to limit its turnovers to a count of four in the first half before finishing with 15. The Tigers also cooled off from the floor (36.8 percent for the game) and fell to 0-3 in the month of February. Megan Chambers (11 points and 10 rebounds) posted a double-double of her own.
A week on the road while up against in-state GPAC opponents will continue on Saturday with a trek to Omaha for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff with College of Saint Mary (5-20, 2-17 GPAC). Concordia’s series win streak grew to 21 after it defeated the Flames, 74-54, in Seward on Jan. 11. A victory on Saturday would make the Bulldogs a perfect 9-0 this regular season against in-state foes.