Third quarter outburst key to win over Jamestown

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 9, 2021 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – In the second meeting with Jamestown in just over three weeks, the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team flipped a switch after halftime. The Bulldogs used a game defining 22-2 run to put the Jimmies on their heels while pulling out a 67-61 victory on Saturday (Jan. 9) afternoon. Three Concordia players scored in double figures as part of a balanced effort.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad will get comfortable inside Friedrich Arena down the stretch of the regular season. The Bulldogs (10-6, 9-4 GPAC) effectively bounced back from an 85-80 loss at Dakota Wesleyan three days earlier.

“I just thought we played harder and had a little bit tougher mindset defensively,” Olson said of the third quarter run. “Thankfully some shots went in for us. We’ve talked to our team about it – the margin of error is just so small (in the GPAC). It really comes down to being able to execute and get stops when you really need it.”

It was quite an accomplishment for Concordia to hold GPAC leading scorer Hannah DeMars to nine points (well below her average of 20.1). In a battle of man-to-man defensive looks, DeMars and Taylor Cockerill frequently locked horns in a matchup of backcourt stars. Despite DeMars shooting 2-for-11 from the floor, the Jimmies (9-6, 6-6 GPAC) fought back from the rough third quarter and got as close as one point (56-55) in the final period.

In a moment as big as any in the game, freshman Bailey Conrad drove and scored to push the lead to five (60-55) in the final four minutes. The Bulldogs held off Jamestown the rest of the way with free throw shooting (7-for-8 in the last three minutes) and grit. A couple of late turnovers also made life difficult on the Jimmies.

Cockerill went a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line on her way to a team high 14 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Taysha Rushton (12 points) and Bailey Conrad (10 points, five rebounds). Mackenzie Koepke filled the stat sheet with seven points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. Rylee Pauli chipped in with five points, six rebounds and four steals and, off the bench, Taylor Farrell (nine points) knocked down three treys.

Concordia found a way to win despite shooting 33.3 percent (21-for-63) from the floor. Both wins this season over Jamestown have been less than beautiful – but they look great in the standings.

“This group is just so much fun to play with,” Koepke said. “We have younger girls stepping up and playing roles that are big roles – it’s impressive … I just think we’re a really tough team mentally. We play together and we’ve got good chemistry.”

This marked the 10th time that Olson has gone head-to-head with former Bulldog teammate Thad Sankey as opposing coaches. Sankey’s squad was led by the 15 points from Macy Savela. Kia Tower added 13 points. Jamestown shot 39.2 percent from the floor, but lost the turnover (18-12) and rebound (44-35) battles.

“She’s one of the best players in the league,” Olson said of DeMars. “She’s just dominating this season. I thought we did a really nice job at times of limiting her touches and making everything difficult for her. Taysha was fantastic hounding her and I felt like we had a lot of other people step up and take their turns.”

A Wednesday road trip awaits for the Bulldogs, who shift their focus to Mount Marty (3-12, 1-11 GPAC) and a 6 p.m. CT tipoff in Yankton, S.D. In the Dec. 30 matchup between the two sides, Concordia made its first seven 3-point attempts of the game on the way to a 98-53 blowout win in Seward. The Lancers have lost seven in a row, including Saturday’s 90-46 defeat at Dordt.