SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Women’s Basketball team and Briar Cliff enter Saturday’s matchup deadlocked in second place in the GPAC standings. The contest will tip off at 2 p.m. CT inside Friedrich Arena. The Bulldogs have been idle since a 66-64 home loss to No. 11 Morningside last Saturday while the Chargers are coming off a 69-59 loss at Northwestern on Wednesday night. Concordia and Briar Cliff sport identical 11-5 GPAC records with the Chargers having won the first matchup this season.
*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 186 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.
Scoring Offense: 77.8 (31st)
Scoring Defense: 67.5 (96th)
FG% Offense: .386 (111th)
FG% Defense: .386 (T-73rd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .316 (70th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .323 (T-133rd)
Free Throw%: .742 (T-29th)
Rebound Margin: -0.42 (109th)
Turnover Margin: +6.53 (23rd)
Scoring Offense: 70.4 (79th)
Scoring Defense: 63.9 (55th)
FG% Offense: .398 (T-87th)
FG% Defense: .394 (T-94th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .305 (84th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .304 (T-95th)
Free Throw%: .683 (T-95th)
Rebound Margin: +3.58 (50th)
Turnover Margin: +4.32 (36th)
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 have had a break since their 66-64 home loss to 11th-ranked Morningside on Jan. 16. Also as part of last week’s action, Concordia blew out Mount Marty, 94-62, in Yankton, S.D. In the win over the Lancers, eight Bulldogs scored eight or more points: Rebecca Higgins (12), Taylor Cockerill (11), Kayla Luebbe (10 | 4-for-4 on free throws), Sadie Powell (nine), Mackenzie Toomey (nine), Bailey Conrad (eight), Mackenzie Koepke (eight) and Chloe Schumacher (eight | 6-for-6 on free throws). It marked the fourth time this season that Concordia has reached 90 or more points in a game. In the matchup with the Mustangs, the Bulldogs held a six-point advantage late in the fourth quarter before Sierra Mitchell and company came through in the clutch. Faith Meyer’s basket with 1.4 seconds left provided the winning score for Morningside, which padded its lead atop the GPAC standings. The Mustangs overcame their 10-for-41 shooting from 3-point range and a game high 17 points from Cockerill and the efficient inside scoring of Luebbe and Schumacher.
Entering the 2020-21 season, the Bulldogs had gone a combined 63-1 at home over the previous four seasons (2016-17 through 2019-20). So far this season, Concordia has gotten better results on the road (8-3) compared to at home (4-4). Some of that discrepancy is due to the opponents the Bulldogs have faced at home. Three of the four home losses have come against teams currently ranked in the NAIA top 25: No. 7 Carroll College (Mont.), No. 11 Morningside and No. 24 Dakota State University (S.D.). Concordia’s key road results have included wins over three foes with records above .500 in GPAC play: Northwestern (9-5), Jamestown (8-6) and Midland (9-7). The Bulldogs’ eight road wins are tied with Morningside for the most among GPAC squads.
Olson chasing 400
It hasn’t taken long for Drew Olson to move from his 300th career win to knocking on the door of 400. Olson enters this week with a career record of 397-105 since being hired as head coach prior to the start of the 2006-07 season. According to NAIA records, Olson began this season with the 14th most wins among active NAIA women’s basketball coaches. Of the top 25 active coaches listed by the NAIA, Olson ranks No. 3 in winning percentage. A former Bulldog standout under Coach Grant Schmidt, Olson has led the program to 30 or more wins in a season six times and to 25 or more wins 10 times over his first 14 seasons. In GPAC games only, Olson has produced a record of 225-68.
Off the bench, frontcourt players in 6-foot-1 sophomore Kayla Luebbe and 6-foot-2 junior Chloe Schumacher provided a significant lift last week. The former Seward High School standout Luebbe posted a combined 23 points while shooting 9-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the foul line last week. Meanwhile, Schumacher totaled 19 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the field and 6-for-7 shooting from the free throw line. Morningside struggled to contain Luebbe, who amassed 33 points (16-for-17 from the field) in the two matchups with the Mustangs.
For the first time in her collegiate career, Abby Aplaca put on a Bulldog jersey while suiting up for the game against Morningside. Aplaca will wear No. 55 while fellow transfer Chaise Pfanstiel moved to No. 10. Aplaca previously played for three seasons at NCAA Division II Concordia University, Portland before the school abruptly shut down. As a junior on the team in 2019-20, Aplaca earned conference All-Academic Team honors and averaged 6.3 points per game while starting all 28 games. Aplaca is still waiting to make her CUNE debut. Meanwhile, Pfanstiel has appeared in four games since arriving via Northwest Missouri State University. She’s totaled six points and three steals.
The Bulldogs moved back into a tie for second place in the GPAC standings after Briar Cliff fell at Northwestern on Wednesday. While Morningside (14-1 GPAC) has established itself as the league’s top team, there will be plenty of jockeying for spots 2 through 7 in the conference pecking order. Northwestern (10-5) and Dordt (10-6) are hot on the heels of Concordia and Briar Cliff while Jamestown (8-6), Dakota Wesleyan (8-6) and Midland (9-7) remain in the picture. The Bulldogs have the advantage of playing five of their final six games in the regular season at home.
Scouting Briar Cliff
The Chargers ended a drought against Concordia back on Dec. 5 with a 69-59 win in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs were a rough 8-for-42 from 3-point range and dug themselves a 17-9 deficit at the end of the first quarter. After going 11-19 overall (8-14 GPAC) last season, Briar Cliff has rebounded impressively under first year Head Coach Brita Hand. In the December win over Concordia, Charger star Konnor Sudmann posted a game high 22 points while going 14-for-14 from the foul line. Sudmann averages 14.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Saturday’s game could be an important one in terms of potential national tournament bids.
The Bulldogs will also play just once next week. They are slated to host College of Saint Mary (2-13, 1-11 GPAC) at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, Jan. 28. The contest was originally slated to be played next Wednesday. Due to the cancellation of the 2021 Concordia Invitational Tournament, Concordia will have the weekend of Jan. 29-30 off.
Concordia (12-7, 11-5)
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)
Briar Cliff (13-6, 11-5)
G – Kennedy Benne, Fr. (11.8)
G – Payton Slaughter, So. (11.7)
G – Konnor Sudmann, So. (14.7)
F – Josie Condon, So. (4.8)
C – Madelyn Deitchler, Jr. (14.1)