FREMONT, Neb. – There’s something about playing at the Wikert Event Center that brings out the best in star guard Taysha Rushton. The Midland, Texas, native shot the ball like she was running a heater on NBA Jam. Rushton made her first eight attempts from the field in helping fuel a 102-64 Concordia University Women's Basketball road blowout of Midland on Wednesday (Feb. 1). For the evening, Rushton went an otherworldly 7-for-7 from 3-point range (10-for-11 from the floor) on her way to a season high 29 points.
Everything has been trending positively for Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad, which showed no signs of a letdown coming off a Concordia Invitational Tournament championship. The Bulldogs (16-7, 12-5 GPAC) went 8-1 during the month of January and are 10-1 over their last 11 GPAC games.
“I was really impressed with our team’s focus right from the beginning,” Olson said. “We knew Midland is a team that’s been struggling, but you don’t want them to have hope and hang around. Our team came out from the beginning and shot lights out, played with great defensive energy and put them away early.
“Taysha was phenomenal – just couldn’t miss. She even banked in a three. And Abby Krieser played phenomenal. The whole group is just playing really good basketball. We have to keep it going.”
It took Rushton fewer than five minutes to reach double figures and, as a team, the Bulldogs started 10-for-12 from the floor with four 3-point field goals over that stretch. By first quarter’s end, Concordia had built a virtually insurmountable 35-15 lead. The Bulldogs were able to add to the advantage while netting 19-of-45 (.422) tries from 3-point range. When its core players were on the court, Concordia had little trouble getting the shots it wanted.
Rushton poured in 22 points in the first half on Wednesday, almost exactly a year after she recorded 26 of her 31 points in the opening 20 minutes at the very same venue in Fremont. Rushton also became the seventh player in school history to reach 200 career 3-point field goals. Her play grabs the headline, but Abby Krieser has been as important as any player to the team’s surge. The Lincoln North Star product collected a career high 20 points to go along with eight assists, five steals and five rebounds in the latest victory. Kendal Brigham also reached double figures in totaling 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Named to the CIT all-tournament team, Kristin Vieselmeyer enjoyed another solid outing in putting up six points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Sadie Powell produced seven points, Mackenzie Koepke added eight points and seven rebounds and Mackenzie Toomey supplied seven points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Furthermore, Concordia shot 44.7 percent (38-for-85) overall, won the rebound battle, 52-38, and forced 19 Midland turnovers. Ten different players scored for the visitors.
The Warriors (3-19, 1-16 GPAC) have been stuck at the bottom of the GPAC standings and lost twice to the Bulldogs this season in convincing fashion. Midland got 12 points apiece on Wednesday from Gabby Beauperthuy and Sarah Shepard. The Warriors were held to 36.5 percent (23-for-63) shooting by an increasingly nasty Bulldog defense. A trey by Reece Snodgrass pushed Concordia into triple digits for the second time in three outings.
Said Olson, “I think we’ve learned a lot of things about each other and how much they love playing together. It’s a really competitive group that’s built up a lot of confidence with some of the wins we’ve had. It makes a big difference when you trust each other, care about each other and love to win.”
The Bulldogs will be back at Friedrich Arena on Saturday (2 p.m. CT tipoff) to welcome in fourth-ranked Dordt (22-1, 16-1 GPAC). National runners up in 2022, the Defenders have just one blemish on their record, a 71-66 upset loss at Doane on Jan. 11. Concordia will be looking to even up the season series after it fell in Sioux Center, Iowa, 76-65, on Nov. 19. The Bulldogs are 11-2 at home in 2022-23.