Rushton hits milestone in spearheading trouncing of Midland

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 29, 2023 in Women's Basketball

FREMONT, Neb. – Midland made a 16-5 run in the first half, but the early spurt wasn’t near enough to keep up with the firepower of the unbeaten and seventh-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team. Star guard Taysha Rushton again tormented the Warriors while spearheading a 100-64 road rout in Fremont, Neb., on Wednesday (Nov. 29). The Bulldogs bombed away with 15 3-point field goals in another early season rout.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has moved to 6-0 overall and to 4-0 in league play. The result on Wednesday was a continuation of last season when Concordia defeated Midland by margins of 35 and 38, respectively.

“I thought the performance was great,” Olson said. “When we came back (from Thanksgiving break), I thought our Monday and Tuesday practices were okay but not great, so I didn’t know what to expect. I also have a lot of confidence in our team and know what great leadership we have. They were focused tonight. The start of our game was awesome – great energy and great defensively.”

Something about the Wikert Event Center brings out the best in Rushton, who had entered the night having totaled a combined 60 points in two previous trips to Fremont. By the end of the first half on Wednesday, Rushton had poured in 16 points and moved past 1,500 career points, becoming the 12th player in program history to do so. At that point, the Bulldogs enjoyed a 50-33 lead. The advantage was stretched to an insurmountable 26-point margin (72-46) by the close of the third quarter. Said Olson of Rushton, “She’s a phenomenal player and does so much for our team.”

The formula for Concordia included a rash of quick turnovers forced, in addition to perimeter shooting. The Bulldogs shared the ball effectively in making 37-of-75 (.493) shots from the floor – 26 of those field goals were assisted. Rushton wound up with a game high 20 points (4-for-8 from 3-point range) and was joined in double figures by teammates Kristin Vieselmeyer (13) and Abby Heemstra (12). Vieselmeyer also pulled down seven boards in helping her side to a 44-37 rebound edge for the night.

Twelve Bulldogs found their way into the scoring column. There were five wearing navy who scored in the range of seven-to-nine points: Sammy Leu (nine), Kendal Brigham (nine), Sadie Powell (eight), Abby Krieser (seven) and Raelyn Kelty (seven). Leu and Vieselmeyer dished out four assists apiece. In putting a cherry on top, Reece Snodgrass drilled the trey that push Concordia into triple digits.

Midland (2-6, 0-4 GPAC) was led by Kennedy Darner with 10 points. The blowout nature of the contest also allowed the Warriors to go deep into their bench. Eleven Midland players notched at least two points. To the Warriors’ credit, they were much less turnover prone after the opening quarter. Midland made 25-of-63 (.397) tries from the floor but struggled mightily from the foul line (5-for-15).

Said Olson, “I thought we were really good defensively. Midland did a really good job against our press. At the start of the game, they were a little tentative, but we only caused 19 turnovers. Again, our depth and our pace got to them eventually.”

The final home game of the first semester will be played on Saturday when the Bulldogs welcome Jamestown (3-4, 1-4 GPAC) to Seward for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff. In Wednesday night's action, the Jimmies were beaten at Dakota Wesleyan, 81-71. Head Coach Thad Sankey’s (Concordia alum) program won last season’s two regular season meetings with the Bulldogs before Concordia earned a victory in North Dakota in the 2023 GPAC quarterfinals.