SEWARD, Neb. – A 25-game regular-season schedule will come to a conclusion on Saturday when the 22nd-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team hosts Doane. Tipoff from Friedrich Arena is set for 2 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs have dominated the series, winning each of the last nine meetings. With a win, Concordia would clinch the No. 2 seed in the GPAC tournament. Meanwhile, the 2020-21 season will end on Saturday for the Tigers.
(22) Concordia (17-7, 16-5) vs. Doane (5-19, 3-18)
Saturday, Feb. 20 | 2 p.m.
Friedrich Arena | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 KTMX-FM Max Country
Commentator: Parker Cyza
*2020-21 NAIA national rank in parentheses
-NOTE: 201 of 235 NAIA women’s basketball programs have played at least one game this season.
Scoring Offense: 78.6 (24th)
Scoring Defense: 66.5 (96th)
FG% Offense: .395 (T-101st)
FG% Defense: .380 (68th)
3-pt FG% Offense: .330 (T-47th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .301 (T-87th)
Free Throw%: .729 (41st)
Rebound Margin: 0.00 (103rd)
Turnover Margin: +6.17 (17th)
Scoring Offense: 63.3 (142nd)
Scoring Defense: 78.8 (187th)
FG% Offense: .371 (155th)
FG% Defense: .408 (T-142nd)
3-pt FG% Offense: .274 (T-150th)
3-pt FG% Defense: .328 (T-164th)
Free Throw%: .701 (T-85th)
Rebound Margin: -5.29 (170th)
Turnover Margin: -4.63 (182nd)
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.
In last week’s lone action, the Bulldogs cruised to a 79-64 home win over Hastings on Feb. 10. Prior to tipoff, the program honored four seniors: Taylor Cockerill, Rebecca Higgins, Emily Jones and Faith Troshynski. After trailing early in the second quarter, Concordia closed the first half on a 26-4 run and led, 41-21, at the break. The lead ballooned to as many as 28 points in the third quarter. Three Bulldogs finished in double figures: Taysha Rushton (17), Taylor Cockerill (15) and Kayla Luebbe (14). Mackenzie Koepke added six points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Concordia went 12-for-35 from 3-point range with the help of seven Concordia players who netted at least one 3-point field goal. The Bulldogs have won 12 of the past 13 meetings with the Broncos.
Cockerill earns GPAC award
For her role in the win over Hastings, junior (in terms of eligibility) guard Taylor Cockerill was named the GPAC Player of the Week. It marked the second time this season that a Bulldog had picked up the award. Freshman Taysha Rushton pulled in the same accolade on Jan. 5. If this season is the end of the line for Cockerill, it’s already been a career worth celebrating. The Waverly High School product led the 2018-19 national championship team in scoring and was named a first team All-GPAC and NAIA honorable mention All-America selection. In 99 career collegiate games, Cockerill has totaled 1,269 points (19th most in program history), 453 rebounds, 229 assists and 154 steals. Those stats have come over three seasons. Cockerill sat out the 2019-20 campaign due to injury.
Rewind things back to just before New Year’s Day and one would have found Concordia sporting a team 3-point shooting percentage of 29.9 – ranked 80th in the NAIA at the time. In the 11 games since then, the Bulldogs have shot 36.5 percent (130-for-356) from beyond the arc to move their season 3-point percentage to 33.0 (tied for 47th best in the NAIA). From a percentage standpoint, the top individual perimeter shooters during that stretch have been Taylor Cockerill (.455), Taylor Farrell (.404), Bailey Conrad (.394) and Taysha Rushton (.377). Rushton has knocked down the most total 3-point field goals over that time with 29. Concordia owns a record of 9-2 in those 11 games (at least 10 3-point field goals in eight of those outings).
Rushton ahead of the class
Taysha Rushton is a strong candidate for GPAC Freshman of the Year accolades. Rushton’s rookie season has been right in line with some of the best first collegiate seasons produced by recent Bulldog stars. During Drew Olson’s tenure, two Concordia players have earned GPAC Freshman of the Year honors: Mary Janovich (2014-15) and Philly Lammers (2016-17). Rushton’s scoring average of 13.8 points per game ranks as the second highest for a Bulldog freshman during Olson’s 15 seasons leading the program (see below). A starter in all 24 games, Rushton is also averaging 2.70 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 34.4 percent from 3-point range.
Highest scoring averages of Concordia freshmen, OIson era
Quinn Wragge – 14.8 (2015-16)
Taysha Rushton – 13.8 (2020-21)
Philly Lammers – 13.2 (2016-17)
Becky Mueller – 11.4 (2013-14)
Kristen Conahan – 10.6 (2010-11)
TaLisa Krejci – 10.0 (2006-07)
Mary Janovich – 9.8 (2014-15)
Katie Rich – 9.5 (2009-10)
Taylor Cockerill – 9.0 (2017-18)
Bailey Morris – 8.5 (2011-12)
Series vs. Doane
Concordia has won 18 of the past 19 meetings with Doane. The only defeat during that stretch occurred during the 2015-16 season. The last five matchups have been incredibly lopsided with the Bulldogs winning those contests by margins of 40, 59, 63, 55 and 59 points. In this season’s first clash, Concordia drained 17 treys in a 111-52 victory in Crete. Rylee Pauli posted a career high 20 points while Taylor Farrell added 17 points off the bench in that contest.
Concordia is looking to lock itself into the No. 2 seed in the GPAC tournament by winning on Saturday. The Bulldogs would hold the tiebreaker over Northwestern (both teams currently 16-5 in the GPAC) due to a regular-season sweep of the Red Raiders. The eight teams that will play in the conference tournament have been decided, however, many of those squads are still jockeying for seeding in this final week of the regular season.
Doane has improved while under the leadership of Head Coach Ryan Baumgartner, who is in his first full season at the helm of the program. The Tigers have won five games this season after winning only two during the 2019-20 campaign. The standout individual is Haylee Heits, who has accumulated 1,351 points and 606 rebounds in her collegiate career. Doane owns GPAC wins this season over Mount Marty (twice) and College of Saint Mary.
Concordia will host a GPAC tournament quarterfinal game on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The Bulldogs will be either the No. 2 or 3 seed, pending this weekend’s results. An opponent is yet to be determined. Dates for the proceeding rounds are Feb. 27 for the semifinals and March 2 for the championship game.
Concordia (17-7, 16-5)
G – Taylor Cockerill, Jr. (14.6)
G – Bailey Conrad, Fr. (4.1)
G – Taysha Rushton, Fr. (13.8)
F – Mackenzie Koepke, Jr. (7.5)
F – Rylee Pauli, Jr. (6.5)
Doane (5-19, 3-18)
G – Madison Davis, So. (7.7)
G – Olivia Nall, Fr. (9.9)
F – Ragan Nickless, Jr. (3.2)
F – Haylee Heits, Sr. (13.7)
G – Sydney Roth, So. (9.7)