In a game very similar to the first meeting between the two schools earlier this season, 5th-ranked Concordia used a big second half to pull away for a 78-57 women’s basketball win over Doane on Tuesday evening in Seward. The Bulldogs led by just three at halftime but outscored the Tigers 43-25 in the final half to move to 20-2 (12-2 GPAC) on the year. Doane College dropped to 10-9 overall (6-8 GPAC) with the loss.
The first half was rough on the offensive end for both teams. The half featured four ties and five lead changes, but neither team found a rhythm offensively. Concordia was just 13-of-42 overall from the field (31 percent) and 5-of-20 (25 percent) from deep. The Bulldogs did force 15 Doane College turnovers in the half. Doane also struggled from the field in the opening 20 minutes, hitting just 9-of-26 shots for 34.6 percent. The Tigers hung around by getting to the free throw line. Concordia totaled 14 fouls in the opening half compared to just six for Doane. The Tigers were 12-of-18 at the charity stripe, and despite the turnovers, Doane trailed by just three (35-32) at halftime.
Things remained close in the second half for the first four minutes. Doane tied the game on two separate occasions, but the Bulldogs began to pull away. With the game tied at 40, Concordia used a quick 7-0 run to grab a 47-40 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining in the contest. Doane would get only as close as five the rest of the way. The Bulldogs took a double-digit lead (57-46) on a transition layup by Katie Rich (Tilden, Neb.), and Concordia continued to pull away from there. The Bulldogs led by at least 11 points for the final six minutes of regulation. Concordia built the lead to 22 (76-54) at one point before securing the 78-57 win.
Following the tough first half offensively, Concordia shot a blistering 54.3 percent in the second half (19-of-35). Kristen Conahan (Omaha, Neb.), who had just three points in the opening half, finished with 17 for the game. For the third straight contest, she drilled five 3-pointers. Conahan also added seven rebounds, four assists and five steals. Bailey Morris (Roseland, Neb.) and Rich had 13 and 11 points, respectively, off a Concordia bench that outscored Doane’s bench by a final of 45-22.
The Bulldogs totaled 34 paint points, 29 points off turnovers, and 17 fast break points on the night. Concordia had 21 assists on their 32 made field goals, and the Bulldogs had 17 steals in the win. Doane finished with 28 free throw attempts in the game compared to just nine for the Bulldogs. Despite the free throw discrepancy, head coach Drew Olson was pleased with the aggressive play of his team.
“We played really hard and unfortunately had quite a few fouls called against us throughout the game,” remarked Olson. “However, we stayed really composed and put together a really solid stretch in the second half to create some separation. I thought we played even harder in that stretch and really got after it defensively. We turned our defense into offense, and hitting some shots from the outside also helped us out.”
Madara Upeniece scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Doane. She was the only player in double figures, however, as Cali Bellar was the next highest scorer with eight points. The Tigers finished with 33 turnovers on the evening.
Concordia travels to Chicago for the Concordia Invitational Tournament this weekend. The Bulldogs open play on Friday against Concordia University-Wisconsin. A win over CU-Wisconsin could produce a matchup between the 5th and 6th rated teams in the country, as Concordia University-Ann Arbor is currently right behind the Bulldogs in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll.
“It would be fun to have a matchup of two top-10 teams at the CIT,” added Olson. We won’t look past our first game, however. CU-Wisconsin has a good squad, so that’s our focus right now.”