Rushton lights fire, ignites season high outburst in road blowout

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 2, 2022 in Women's Basketball

FREMONT, Neb. – Taysha Rushton got loose early and the confidence came rushing back for the 23rd-ranked Concordia University Women’s Basketball team. Whatever frustrations were left from last week were taken out on Midland on Wednesday (Feb. 2). The Bulldogs mounted a 25-point lead in the first half, shot 54.5 percent for the game and cruised to a 101-57 victory in Fremont, Neb. Concordia blew out the Warriors for the second time this season.

A refresher over the weekend may have been just what Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad needed. The Bulldogs have ended a four-game skid while moving to 13-10 overall (10-7 GPAC).

“We had a great response to the two weeks that we went through – the grind that we went through,” Olson said. “Having a week off, I thought our players really played well and played great team basketball. It obviously helps when Taysha plays like that. She was incredible, on a whole other level. It was a great team effort. Offensively, we shared the ball and that was great to see.”

A 5-foot-4 do-it-all guard from Midland, Texas, Rushton put forth her best Caitlin Clark impression while breaking out for 31 points (one shy of a career high) on 13-for-19 shooting from the floor, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Rushton reached double figures in the first five minutes, had 17 points after the opening quarter and went to the halftime break sporting 26 tallies – two short of a program record for one half. She then played just sparingly in the fourth quarter with the outcome well in hand.

This contest had a lot of the same feel to it as the Nov. 17 Concordia-Midland matchup that resulted in a 93-52 Bulldog victory. Just like the earlier meeting, Concordia put the game away in the first half. Consider the offensive struggles a thing of the past. On Wednesday, seeing the ball go through the net became contagious. Thirteen different Bulldogs registered in the scoring column. The visitors were also the aggressor on the boards, owning a 48-34 advantage in that department.

In the post, Concordia’s Rylee Pauli enjoyed one of her finer statistical games of the season in supplying 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Sadie Powell also reached double figures in scoring while posting 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Off the bench, Mackenzie Toomey (nine), Abby Heemstra (eight) and Abby Krieser (seven) followed close behind in scoring. In addition, Bailey Conrad dished out seven assists and Rushton added six steals, four assists and four rebounds to her stat line.

Midland’s brightest star, Peyton Wingert, finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, though she went only 2-for-11 from the floor. Erin Prusa also collected 14 points. As a team, the Warriors shot a rough 26.3 percent (15-for-57) from the floor. Now 1-8 in its last nine games, Midland (8-16, 4-13 GPAC) is looking like a longshot to reach the GPAC tournament.

The Warriors aren’t the only team to struggle defending Rushton. Said Olson, “Everybody sees the shots going in, but for me, it was her mindset of attack mode. She had a really positive attitude throughout. It carries over to the rest of the team. She’s a big part of our team and a big leader of the team. I think we responded because of her.”

The Bulldogs will return to Friedrich Arena on Saturday to host Dordt (19-6, 12-5 GPAC) in a contest scheduled for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff. Way back on Nov. 20, Concordia dropped a 69-60 decision in Sioux Center, Iowa. In Wednesday’s action, the Defenders pushed their winning streak to 12 by upsetting No. 8 Morningside, 85-73.