Slow start too much to overcome in GPAC opener at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 12, 2022 in Women's Basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In the tipoff to the GPAC slate, the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team found itself playing catchup all Saturday (Nov. 12) afternoon at Briar Cliff. An experienced crew of Chargers led by double digits after a quarter and pushed the advantage to as many as 18 points on the way to an 87-76 victory inside the Newman Flanagan Center in Sioux City, Iowa. In the defeat, star guard Taysha Rushton became the 31st player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.

This was the first action for Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad since winning twice at the previous weekend’s Cattle Classic.

“First quarter, we got off to a slow start and really struggled offensively,” Olson said. “We were a little too passive and then I feel like after the first quarter we started to get into more of an attack mode. Briar Cliff is a really good team. I thought we did a good job of fighting back in the second half. We weren’t good enough defensively throughout the game and couldn’t get stops when ne needed them down the stretch.”

As rough as the first quarter felt, the Bulldogs still had a shot in the fourth quarter. They closed within six (65-59) and had a look from 3-point range from Megan Belt that could have cut the deficit to three. The Chargers followed with a 7-0 run and the margin remained in double digits the rest of the way. Briar Cliff (4-1, 1-0 GPAC) got 23 points from Kennedy Benne and 21 from Konnor Sudmann.

Eleven Concordia 3-point field goals helped the visitors remain within striking distance despite Briar Cliff holding advantages of 43-27 in rebounds and 52.8 to 36.8 in field goal percentage. Rushton posted 23 points and went 4-for-10 from long range as the catalyst for the Bulldog attack. Sadie Powell got going with a season high 16 points and seven rebounds. Kendal Brigham (11) and Mackenzie Toomey (10) also found their way into double figures.

Said Olson, “We’re still figuring some things out on the offensive end as far as how to use certain people in better ways. It was good to see Sadie come alive in the second half. We just got down too much in the first quarter to really make a difference. You can tell Briar Cliff is playing with confidence with that experience they have. They’re a really good team.”

The Chargers start five players who all earned All-GPAC honors last season. The group includes a couple of fifth-year players in Madelyn Deitchler (11 points and 14 rebounds) and Peyton Wingert. Four of the starters played at least 33 minutes on Saturday.

Rushton entered the day needing eight points to reach 1,000 for her career. The Midland, Texas, native has landed on the All-GPAC first team in back-to-back seasons as another standout backcourt scorer in a long line of them who have played for Olson.

The Bulldogs will be at home on Wednesday to host Midland (2-2) for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff inside Friedrich Arena. Concordia won both of last season's matchups handily – 93-52 in Seward and 101-57 in Fremont. The Warriors have won back-to-back nonconference games, defeating Ottawa University (Kan.) and Panhandle State University (Okla.).