No. 25 Bulldogs face challenges from Dordt, DWU

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 1, 2021 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – This week will go a long way towards determining whether the 25th-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team can maintain its hold on second place in the GPAC standings. As part of a challenging week, the Bulldogs will travel to play at Dordt on Wednesday before hosting Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday. Concordia will play its final three games of the regular season inside Friedrich Arena. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has gotten some late season rest having played only twice since Jan. 16.

This Week

(25) Concordia (14-7, 13-5) at Dordt (12-9, 11-7)
Wednesday, Feb. 3 | 6 p.m.
DeWitt Gymnasium | Sioux Center, Iowa
Webcast: Dordt Media Network
Live Stats: Dakstats
Radio: 104.9 KTMX-FM Max Country
Commentator: Evan Jones

(25) Concordia (14-7, 13-5) vs. Dakota Wesleyan (13-6, 11-6)
Saturday, Feb. 6 | 4 p.m.
Friedrich Arena | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 KTMX-FM Max Country
Commentator: Evan Jones


*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 192 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.

Scoring Offense: 78.8 (24th)
Scoring Defense: 66.3 (87th)
FG% Offense: .395 (T-97th)
FG% Defense: .381 (T-68th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .329 (53rd)
3-pt FG% Defense: .311 (T-111th)
Free Throw%: .736 (T-32nd)
Rebound Margin: +0.33 (94th)
Turnover Margin: +6.38 (17th)

Scoring Offense: 71.3 (68th)
Scoring Defense: 66.1 (84th)
FG% Offense: .401 (T-80th)
FG% Defense: .378 (T-60th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .331 (T-50th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .325 (T-145th)
Free Throw%: .738 (31st)
Rebound Margin: +9.71 (12th)
Turnover Margin: -3.86 (162nd)

Dakota Wesleyan
Scoring Offense: 71.2 (69th)
Scoring Defense: 60.3 (28th)
FG% Offense: .420 (T-51st)
FG% Defense: .355 (T-19th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .339 (T-37th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .297 (T-73rd)
Free Throw%: .707 (T-68th)
Rebound Margin: +8.11 (19th)
Turnover Margin: +1.05 (85th)

Protocols for fans
At Dordt: Tickets must be purchased online prior to attending games at Dordt. To purchase tickets for Wednesday’s game, visit: Tickets will not be sold at the entrance.
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 ( 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:

Recent action
Concordia played only once last week. It steamrolled College of Saint Mary, 111-52, on Jan. 28 and improved to 6-4 at home this season. The Bulldogs went 15-for-28 from 3-point range and forced 36 turnovers in the blowout. Double-figure scorers included Taylor Farrell (18), Kayla Luebbe (16), Chaise Pfanstiel (13) and Taysha Rushton (11). Six other Bulldogs tallied at least six points: Bailey Conrad (nine), Sadie Powell (nine), Chloe Schumacher (eight), Mackenzie Koepke (seven), Rylee Pauli (six) and Faith Troshynski (six). Schumacher also grabbed eight rebounds while feeding a team advantage of 48-30 on the boards. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Toomey plucked six steals and Abby Aplaca and Powell nabbed three apiece. Conrad dished out four assists.

Return to NAIA top 25
After disappearing from the previous two national polls, Concordia returned to the NAIA top 25 while checking in at No. 25 with the release of the Jan. 27 poll. Earlier this season, the program had a run of 97-straight poll appearances snapped. Out of the 97 poll appearances, the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 ranking 16 times, a top five ranking 63 times and a top 10 ranking 88 times. Concordia finished inside the top five of NAIA Division II in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Of course the mountaintop moment came on March 12, 2019, when the Bulldogs celebrated the first national title in program history. Concordia has finished with a top 25 ranking in every season since 2010-11.

Turnovers remain key to success
The program’s patented press has been reigned in this season, but turnover margin remains a key ingredient in the current team’s success. The 2020-21 Bulldogs rank 17th nationally with a turnover margin of +6.38. They also rank 17th in the NAIA in steals per game with 13.2 (second most in the GPAC). Those numbers are impressive considering the absence of the press for much of this season. Over the previous four elite seasons of Concordia basketball, the program posted turnover margins of +8.57 in 2016-17, +7.61 in 2017-18, +12.58 in 2018-19 and +14.47 in 2019-20. Those latter two figures led all of NAIA Division II.

Road Dawgs
The Bulldogs have won their past two home games, but their record this season on the road (8-3) actually trumps their mark at home (6-4). If Concordia can find a way to win at Dordt on Wednesday, it would finish its GPAC road slate with an 8-3 conference road record. Among GPAC teams, only Morningside (10-2 away) has been better on the road. Based on the standings, the most notable Bulldog road wins have come over Northwestern, Jamestown and Midland (all three are above .500 in league play). Concordia is 57-9 in true road games since the start of the 2016-17 season.

Olson on doorstep of 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 399-105 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 227-68. Schmidt (445-276) is the lone basketball coach in school history to rack up at least 400 wins.

GPAC update
Morningside has now clinched at least a share of the GPAC regular-season title (10th in program history). The Mustangs have run away with it at 17-1 in league play. Concordia hopes that it can hold strong in the No. 2 spot down the stretch. The Bulldogs (13-5) are currently tied with Northwestern (13-5) and just ahead of a host of other teams in Dakota Wesleyan (11-6), Briar Cliff (12-7), Jamestown (11-7) and Dordt (11-7). The Mustangs will grab one of the league’s automatic bids to nationals with the other one going to either the GPAC tournament champion or runner up (should Morningside sweep conference championships).

Scouting Dordt
After beginning the season ranked eighth in the NAIA, Dordt has not had exactly the season it had envisioned, but it still has plenty of talent. The Defenders attack opponents with a lineup that includes four starters who stand 5-foot-10 or taller. University of Nebraska transfer Ashtyn Veerbeek has found a groove and leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game. Meanwhile, senior Erika Feenstra has starred as one of the GPAC’s best players for her entire career. Head Coach Bill Harmsen has gone bigger with the lineup since guard Bailey Beckman was lost to injury (out since Jan. 14). Dordt has used its size advantage to outrebound its opponents by nearly 10 rebounds per game.

Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
The Tigers roared during the month of January, going 8-1 with one of those victories coming over Concordia, 85-80. That stretch also included solid road victories over Briar Cliff and Midland. DWU boasts a super freshman in Haidyn Pitsch, who burned the Bulldogs for 25 points in this season’s first meeting. Pitsch and company have been especially stout defensively. They lead the GPAC in both scoring defense (60.3) and field goal percentage defense (.355). Head Coach Jason Christensen has his team playing at a high level a season after it graduated standouts Kennedy Cheeseman, Sarah Carr and Makaela Karst.

Looking ahead
Concordia will play only once next week. It will host Hastings (5-14, 4-13 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The regular season will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 10 with the Bulldogs welcoming Doane (4-17, 2-16 GPAC) to Seward.

Projected Starters

Concordia (14-7, 13-5)
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)

Dordt (12-9, 11-7)
G – Jordyn Winterfeld, Jr. (4.0)
F – Erika Feenstra, Sr. (12.2)
F – Baylee Tetzlaff, Sr. (5.3)
F – Ashtyn Veerbeek, Jr. (15.0)
C – Karly Gustafson, So. (11.2)

Dakota Wesleyan (13-6, 11-6)
G – Kaylee Kirk, Jr. (5.9)
G – Rynn Osthus, So. (6.5)
G – Haidyn Pitsch, Fr. (14.5)
F – Matti Reiner, So. (13.6)
C – Jada Campbell, Jr. (11.1)