SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Women’s Basketball team appeared poised for back-to-back league wins over ranked opponents before visiting Northwestern came to life behind star guard Maddie Jones. A 20-0 run that spilled into the fourth quarter allowed the 16th-ranked Red Raiders to avoid the upset and emerge from Friedrich Arena with a 72-56 win on Saturday (Dec. 3) afternoon. The Bulldogs managed only four made field goals in the fourth quarter.
Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad had hoped to build upon its 71-64 win at No. 25 Morningside earlier in the week. Concordia (4-4, 2-4 GPAC) played a solid 25-plus minutes on Saturday before Northwestern went on its game defining surge.
“I felt like we played really good basketball for about 27 minutes,” Olson said. “At that point we got a little sloppy and had a couple turnovers, which allowed Northwestern to gain the momentum back. Going into the fourth quarter, I still felt good about it, but we didn’t do enough to beat a really good team. That continues to be something that we’re learning. We need more people to be able to step up and make plays when we need it. I love how hard we’re playing and the things we’re doing defensively.”
A putback basket by Abby Heemstra bumped the Bulldog lead to 44-41 with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter. Concordia then went ice cold and did not score again until Heemstra made one of two free throws at the 3:45 mark of the fourth period. By the time the Bulldogs finally sank their first basket of the quarter, it was too late. The Red Raiders achieved their first double-digit lead with 7:59 left in the game and built the advantage to as many as 18 points (72-54).
The version of Concordia that took a 34-26 lead to the half is the one Olson is trying to inspire on a regular basis. As part of the first 20 minutes, Taysha Rushton poured in 11 of her team high 17 points while starring on both ends of the court. Rushton even chipped in with a ferocious blocked shot. Sadie Powell also notched all eight of her points in the first half. Defensively, the Bulldogs did a commendable job in limiting Molly Schany and Taylor VanderVelde to a combined 17 points.
But Jones and Emilee Danner came through to keep Northwestern’s record spotless at 10-0 (5-0 GPAC). Jones finished with a game high 22 points while Danner posted 17 points and nine rebounds. The Red Raiders overcame their 17 turnovers with the help of a 42-29 advantage in rebounding. They also held the Bulldogs to just 26.5 percent shooting in the second half.
Said Olson, “We just have to keep getting better. I like what we’re doing. We’ve got a young team that’s continuing to grow and gain confidence. We didn’t win today, but I still feel like our group gained more confidence knowing what we’re capable of. We just have to put it together for 40 minutes and do it on a consistent basis. We saw what we were capable of at Morningside.”
The Bulldogs will remain at home this coming Wednesday to welcome Mount Marty (3-8, 1-5 GPAC) to Seward for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff. Concordia has won each of the past 12 series meetings over the Lancers, who are under the direction of first-year Head Coach Allan Bertram. Mount Marty earned its first GPAC win of the season this week with a 67-60 triumph over Midland.