Northwestern College earned a tough 72-66 women’s basketball win over Concordia in the quarterfinals of the GPAC Tournament on Thursday evening. Northwestern, the top seed in the tournament and No. 2 team in the NAIA, improved to 28-1 on the year with the win, while Concordia ended its season at 15-17.
Much like the first matchup earlier this year, Concordia got off to a nice start and led by three on two occasions in the opening minutes of the game. Northwestern responded and opened up a lead as big as seven (28-21). The Bulldogs pulled within two (30-28) with a minute to go in the half, but the Red Raiders scored the final four points of the half to take a 34-28 lead into halftime.
Concordia was just 29 percent from the field overall and from behind the arc (4-of-14) in the opening 20 minutes. Northwestern was 40 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Kendra De Jong had 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Becca Hurley added 11 points for the Raiders in the first half. Katie Rich (Tilden, Neb.) had seven points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs in the first half of play.
Northwestern extended to a 38-28 lead early in the second half for the first double digit lead of the game. Concordia fought back, however, and the Bulldogs pulled within three (40-37) with 17 minutes to go.
With the Raiders leading by three (44-41), Hurley scored five quick points to increase the Northwestern lead back to eight at 49-41 with just over 12 minutes remaining. Hurley went coast to coast for a layup and followed with a 3-pointer to boost the Raider lead. Concordia again rallied and pulled within four at 54-50. However, Hurley scored another quick four points to push the lead back to eight at 58-50 with eight minutes left in the contest.
A quick five points by Concordia cut the lead back down to three at 58-55. Kat Ommen (Jefferson City, Mo.) hit a tough shot in the lane, and Amber Kistler (Minatare, Neb.) connected on a 3-pointer to tighten the game once again. Following a made 3-pointer by Northwestern, Kristen Conahan (Omaha, Neb.) hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs back within three at 61-58 with less than four minutes left in regulation.
Northwestern hit a pair of free throws to take a 63-58 lead, but Conahan answered with another 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs within two at 63-61. Following a Northwestern turnover, Conahan hit two free throws to tie the game at 63-63 with three minutes remaining.
Concordia took a 64-63 lead on a made free throw by Lori Laboda (Parker, Colo.). Northwestern quickly reclaimed the lead (65-64) with a pair of made free throws with less than two minutes to play.
Following a blocked shot, Hurley scored in transition to put the Raiders in front 67-64. Hurley was fouled on the play. She missed the free throw, but Concordia was unable to secure the rebound. Hurley hit a jumper to extend the Raider lead to five at 69-64 with less than a minute remaining.
Kristin Miller (Jefferson City, Mo.) scored to pull Concordia within three at 69-66. Hurley then hit one of two free throws to push the lead to four at 70-66 with 10 seconds remaining. Concordia was unable to connect on a 3-point attempt, and Hurley hit two more free throws for the final score of 72-66. Northwestern outscored Concordia 9-2 in the final few minutes of the game.
Concordia was just 33 percent from the field in the loss compared to 47 percent for Northwestern. The Bulldogs held the rebounding advantage and totaled 16 offensive rebounds in the game. The Bulldogs were hurt down the stretch by foul trouble. Both Kistler and Ommen fouled out of the game.
Conahan led the way offensively for Concordia with 17 points. The freshman struggled overall from the field, but she played all 40 minutes and had four made 3-pointers on the night. Ommen added 15 points, and Rich added a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Hurley and De Jong were the story for Northwestern. Hurley finished with 31 points (20 in the second half) on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. De Jong added 17 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for the Raiders.