Toomey terrific as third quarter tear propels Bulldogs to victory

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 21, 2024 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – This Concordia University Women’s Basketball team just isn’t comfortable until it digs itself an early hole. Eventually the seventh-ranked Bulldogs found a groove, shook off another sluggish first quarter and got an all-star performance from Mackenzie Toomey while running away from visiting Hastings, 82-55, on Wednesday (Feb. 21). Toomey turned in the second double-double of her career.

While finishing the regular season at home this week, Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad hopes to lock up the No. 2 seed at the conference tournament. Concordia moved a step closer as it pushed its GPAC mark to 16-5 (22-5 overall).

“Pretty typical for our team – we start a little bit slow,” Olson said. “We came out with great energy in that second half. It all stems from our defense. When we get stops, we can run the floor, get some easy baskets and spread them out a little bit. Kendal (Brigham) got loose from three in that third quarter, which was really nice to see. Mackenzie Toomey was phenomenal. She was the highlight of the game. The way they tried to defend us, Toomey took great advantage of it. It shows her work ethic. She had it going.”

It was Toomey terrific on Wednesday night. In one sequence in the middle of the third quarter, she curled in a trey when the opposition refused to guard her and then ripped the ball away from a Bronco and raced to the other end for two. The Lincoln Southeast High School alum also grabbed 13 rebounds, swiped one steal and blocked a shot while dominating on both ends of the floor. Her relentless energy ignited the third-quarter surge that put the contest well in hand. By that frame’s end, the Bulldogs led, 60-41.

Better ball movement after halftime led to Kendal Brigham getting white hot as she nailed third-quarter treys at the 5:12, 4:22, 2:11 and 0:56 marks. Toomey wound up draining three triples while doubling her season number of treys entering the night. Concordia went from going 4-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half to making 11-of-21 perimeter shots over the final 20 minutes.

Early on, this contest didn’t have the feel of one that would eventually become a rout. Hastings led 17-9 with 2:20 left in the opening quarter as Lexi Kraft netted an outside jumper. Olson called a timeout and the game soon flipped. Toomey poured in two treys during a 15-3 run that resulted in a 24-20 lead in the second quarter. The Broncos managed to hang within three (32-29) at the break.

Toomey’s career-high 21 points paced the Bulldogs. She was joined in double figures by Brigham (15) and Taysha Rushton (11). Sadie Powell posted nine points and will enter senior day needing 11 more to reach 1,000 for her career. Many others contributed off the bench, including Raelyn Kelty, who notched seven points and three rebounds. Megan Belt added six points on two treys and Sammy Leu chipped in with five points and four rebounds.

Toomey was feeling it on Wednesday. Said the Lincoln native, “It went in and I said, if this goes in, I’ll shoot another one. They kept getting me the ball and my teammates kept encouraging me to shoot. After I made it, they went crazy. That’s just awesome support from my teammates.”

The loss was a blow to Hastings’ chances of qualifying for the eight-team GPAC tournament. The Broncos are now in ninth place at 9-12 in league play (13-14 overall). The Broncos were led on Wednesday by the 16 points from Mariyah Avila and 12 points from Kraft. Hastings shot a meager 30 percent (21-for-70) from the floor and got swept by the Bulldogs for the season.

The Bulldogs will close the regular season on Saturday when Midland (7-20, 4-17 GPAC) will make a visit to Friedrich Arena. Game time is set for 2 p.m. CT. Concordia will celebrate nine seniors at halftime of the men’s game. Those nine seniors are: Kendal Brigham, Lydia Dose, Carolyn Esh, Maggie Hughes, Elayne Poppe, Sadie Powell, Taysha Rushton, Hanna Spearman and Mackenzie Toomey. The Bulldogs routed Midland in Fremont, 100-64, on Nov. 29.

Said Toomey of senior day, “It’s going to be a really special night. I’m excited for what’s to come.” Added Olson, “It’s a big game for lots of reasons. We want to continue to get better and take strides forward. The senior class is an amazing group. They’re very unique kids that are awesome people. I’ve been very blessed to be around them the last four years.”