Third quarter splash lifts Bulldogs over Broncos

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 25, 2023 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – A third quarter run of dominance took the drama out of it on Wednesday (Jan. 25) as the Concordia University Women’s Basketball team remained red hot. The Bulldogs allowed visiting Hastings only three field goals during the third period in the process of growing the advantage to as large as 18 points. Concordia turned away the Broncos, 73-62, with the help of a career high-tying 14 points from Abby Krieser.

Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has gone 9-1 in its last 10 GPAC games while running its record to 13-7 overall (11-5 GPAC). Before revving up for the Concordia Invitational Tournament, the Bulldogs had to get this one first.

“We talked at halftime about being a little bit sharper defensively,” Olson said. “When we get stops, we can play a lot faster. I felt like in that stretch (third quarter), we played with really good pace and got a lot of easy baskets. They have a lot of confidence in each other. They’re really enjoying playing together. That goes a long way. I think this group has figured some things out.”

A Concordia drought leading into halftime allowed Hastings to pull even, 33-33, at the break. Spurred first by its play on the defensive end, the Bulldogs made the game-defining push. Mackenzie Koepke and Taysha Rushton broke a 37-37 stalemate with back-to-back treys, initiating a 16-0 surge. Kendal Brigham capped the run with a pair of layups. As a team that has averaged 63.5 points per game this season, the Broncos did not possess the firepower to keep up.

The meshing of this Concordia team continues to develop without the need for one singular star holding down the spotlight. The budding Krieser added to her stat line on Wednesday with four rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. As for Rushton, she’s playing within herself. She went 4-for-5 from 3-point range in putting up 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Another five Bulldogs notched at least five points, including Brigham (nine), Koepke (eight), Sadie Powell (eight), Megan Belt (six) and Mackenzie Toomey (five).

Hastings (8-13, 4-11 GPAC) kept within striking distance for much of the evening thanks to its 14-for-29 performance from 3-point range. Conversely, the Broncos made only 6-of-24 shots from inside the arc and shot 37.7 percent overall. Katharine Hamburger paced all players with 16 points while Alyssa Baker chipped in 13. The visitors did do a commendable job in limiting their turnovers to 17 in the face of a pesky press. Hastings has suffered seven straight defeats and has not earned a conference win since Dec. 7.

Koepke poured in two treys and ended the night with 199 career 3-point field goals, leaving her on the brink of becoming the sixth player in program history to net 200. She’s seen how this team has evolved over time. Said Koepke, “We’re feeling good, we’re playing well together. We’re staying level-headed – don’t ride the highs too high or the lows too low. We’re staying confident in each other and I think that’s what’s helping us a lot.”

Concordia earned a season sweep of the Broncos having also defeated them on the road, 70-57, on Dec. 10. The Bulldogs are 6-1 in the month of January with the lone defeat coming at Jamestown. One of the hottest players individually, Krieser has scored in double figures in four consecutive games and has averaged 12.8 points during that stretch.

The 70th Concordia Invitational Tournament will tip off on Friday from Friedrich Arena. In round one of the event, the Bulldogs will take on Concordia University Wisconsin (9-8) at 6 p.m. CT on Friday. CUNE will be attempting to extend a string of seven straight CIT championships. For more details on CIT 2023, including ticket information, click HERE.