Powell, defensive ferocity help Bulldogs start 2024 off right

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 3, 2024 in Women's Basketball

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – In knocking off some rust in the new year, the 11th-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team used a tenacious defensive effort to pull one out on the road in its return to GPAC play. A career high scoring output from Sadie Powell propelled the Bulldogs to a 69-63 victory at Jamestown on Wednesday (Jan. 3). The result avenged a 71-61 loss to the Jimmies a month earlier in Seward. Powell led all players with 21 points on the evening.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad had gone since Dec. 19 since its most recent outing. Concordia stands at 10-2 overall (6-2 GPAC).

“I thought it was a really gritty effort by our group,” Olson said. “We weren’t at our best. We had moments offensively where we just didn’t capitalize on some layups and stuff like that. Being on the road against a tough team like Jamestown, really good defensively, the effort we had was incredible. We came out in the second half and set a really good tone. Abby Krieser really got into them defensively and caused some problems. Sadie Powell had a huge spurt and we continued to fight the rest of the half. It was a gritty performance and a big-time win on the road.”

There were striking contrasts in the final box score on Wednesday as the Bulldogs were outrebounded, 48-26, but made up for it with a plus-18 turnover margin (28-10). The best stretch of basketball for Concordia came to open the third quarter when it went on a 15-5 run and turned a 33-28 halftime deficit into a 43-38 lead. It wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing from there in a rough-and-tumble conference affair. It took until the final minute of the game before the Bulldogs could finally breath a sigh of relief. Abby Krieser notched a key bucket with just under 2:00 to go and Kendal Brigham later stole the ball and dished to Taysha Rushton for a 67-60 lead in the closing seconds.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native Powell enjoyed a scintillating stretch early in the third quarter. She poured in eight points in less than 60 seconds as Concordia shook off a cold shooting second period. Powell’s 21 points equaled her career high from almost exactly two years ago to the date. Powell was joined in double figures by teammates in Krieser (14) and Kristin Vieselmeyer (12). The Bulldogs shot 36.9 percent (24-for-65) from the floor.

The outcome was mostly a result of the defensive pressure Concordia put on the Jimmies. The Bulldogs swiped 18 steals and got four thefts apiece from Krieser, Powell and Taysha Rushton. Though the All-American Rushton was limited to three points, she contributed four rebounds and four assists to her stat line. Off the bench, Brigham supplied nine points and four assists and Sammy Leu canned a pair of treys.

Said Olson, “The layoff didn’t hurt us that much. I thought we practiced well and came out and played well. Jamestown is a really good defensive team and caused some problems. We missed some shots that maybe we normally make on a day where we’re clicking, but that wasn’t the story. The story was how we fought and clawed for a win on the road against a good team.”

The 7-7 (3-5 GPAC) record can be deceiving for Jamestown, which won at Concordia on Dec. 2 and also defeated No. 16 University of Providence (Mont.) in Hawaii. Head Coach Thad Sankey’s squad competed down to the wire with the Bulldogs on Wednesday despite being without leading scorer Kate Cordes, who was sidelined by injury. Kia Tower got loose early before cooling down late. She finished with 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Audrey Rodakowski backed her with 11 points and nine rebounds. Jamestown made 22-of-52 (.423) shots from the floor.

Following five in a row on the road, the Bulldogs will finally return to Friedrich Arena on Saturday for a matchup with Dakota Wesleyan (10-3, 5-2 GPAC). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT in Seward. The two sides split last season’s pair of regular season meetings with the home team winning in both instances. The Tigers had the middle of this week off after defeating Valley City State University (N.D.), 79-63, on New Year’s Eve.