Bulldogs fall in defensive battle at No. 16 Dordt

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 20, 2021 in Women's Basketball

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Despite offensive inconsistencies, the 21st-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team went wire-to-wire on the road with No. 16 Dordt on Saturday (Nov. 20). Ultimately, 5-for-19 shooting from 3-point range and a major disadvantage from the foul line led to a Bulldog loss, 69-60, in Sioux Center, Iowa. Defender standout Hayden Heimensen led all scorers with 22 points.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad had shot the lights out three days earlier in the win over Midland. Concordia stands at 3-3 overall and at 1-2 in league play.

“It was two good teams and Dordt was great defensively,” Olson said. “We really struggled offensively in the second half. Some of it is on us. We need to have better spacing and flow, and we have to step up and hit shots. In our losses we haven’t. We have to keep getting better. I thought we had incredible fight, especially early on. We were down in the first quarter and fought back to take the lead. We have to figure out how to fight like that for all four quarters, especially against a good team on the road.”

The Bulldogs were forced to play catch-up most of the second half after enduring a third-quarter drought. Concordia managed only seven points during a third period that stretched Dordt’s halftime lead from two to eight (51-43). The Bulldogs remained within striking distance in the final quarter, but never could cut the deficit to fewer than six points. The Defenders went 23-for-34 (.676) from the foul line while holding off Concordia.

The size and length of Dordt is a problem for each of its opponents. The Defenders did not make a single 3-point basket in the second half, but they didn’t need one thanks to the work inside of Ashtyn Veerbeek (20 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots) and Karly Gustafson (eight points and 21 rebounds). Dordt enjoyed an advantage of 48-39 on the boards. A transfer from the University of Nebraska, Veerbeek figures to be a strong candidate for GPAC Player of the Year honors this season.

Concordia may have been able to overcome its shortcomings in rebounding had it made more shots. The Bulldogs went 22-for-70 (.314) from the floor. Only Taysha Rushton (6-for-21 shooting) reached double figures for Concordia. On the interior, Abby Heemstra posted nine points and 11 rebounds. Kendal Brigham provided a spark in scoring nine points in the first half while dependable veteran Rylee Pauli chipped in seven points and seven rebounds. Lauren Baker and Bailey Conrad contributed six points apiece.

“Kendal did a great job in giving us a spark and Abby had some great moments in the second half,” Olson said. “Lauren Baker is coming along and is going to be really good. I think we have a team that can beat anyone in the country, but we need to have more consistency throughout our rotation.”

On the plus side, Dordt went just 6-for-24 from the floor in the second half while struggling to crack the Bulldog zone. The Defenders (6-2, 1-1 GPAC) got more points from the free throw line than they did on field goals (19-12) over the final 20 minutes.

As part of Thanksgiving week, the Bulldogs will host Jamestown (4-2, 1-1 GPAC) on Tuesday with tipoff set for 6 p.m. CT from Friedrich Arena. Concordia has won each of the past 12 meetings with the Jimmies, a streak that dates back prior to Jamestown joining the GPAC. The Jimmies were in action at Midland on Saturday night.