SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman Quinn Wragge piled up a career high 21 points, junior Shelby Quinn dropped a career best eight dimes and the fifth-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team picked up the slack in the absence of its 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year. The Bulldogs nailed another 10 3-point shots in holding off rival and 10th-ranked Hastings, 75-72, inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night.
The latest installment of the intense rivalry produced another pulse pounder that saw 10th-year head coach Drew Olson win its second-straight contest against a top-10 ranked opponent. Winner of 11 of its last 12 games, Concordia is now 15-4 overall and 10-4 in league play – good for second place.
“It’s two really good teams that I feel like are both well-coached and do a lot of the little things,” Olson said. “Hastings is kind of a grind-it-out-team, very physical. I’m just proud of our kids to continue to battle, scrap and claw for everything that we got in that second half. That’s a really big win for us.”
Both teams missed key free throws down the stretch. The Broncos (15-5, 9-4 GPAC) made only two of their final eight free throws, but still had one final chance to tie. Ultimately, the buzzer sounded on Concordia’s 15th victory after Holly Hild’s 3-point attempt failed to draw iron on the game’s final possession.
Once again, Concordia found a way in a seesaw fourth quarter during which neither team gained a lead of more than three points. There was no single crunch-time star for the Bulldogs, who had five different players score in the fourth quarter. Crucial plays came on the other end of the floor as Concordia held Hastings without a field goal over the final four minutes of action.
“We just have a lot of confidence in our game plan,” Quinn said. “When it comes down to the wire we focus the best that we can and execute as well as we can. Tonight it worked out in our favor.”
Wragge, a budding star, carried the Bulldogs offensively in the first half. She created a matchup nightmare with her ability to take defenders off the dribble. Shen then beat the first-half buzzer with a trey that gave her 15 points in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Concordia led, 38-36, at the break.
Hastings’ large turnover advantage (just eight giveaways compared to 17 takeaways) allowed it to hang right with the Bulldogs. Rachel Jelden (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Chelsey Morten (10 points, 12 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles. They served as important factors in helping their team mount a five-point third-quarter advantage.
Then human microwave Brenleigh Daum brought Concordia back into the lead with treys on consecutive possessions late in the third quarter. The Bulldogs had fallen behind 50-45 before Daum answered back. Becky Mueller closed the third stanza with a top-of-the-key triple to vault Concordia into a two-point advantage (61-59) entering the final 10 minutes.
Like they’ve done in the past, the Bulldogs proved they're more than a single player. Though star guard Mary Janovich sat out with an injury, Concordia still managed to boost its home record to 66-8 over the past 74 games played inside Walz Arena.
“We lose a little bit not having Mary on our team but at the same time, a lot of our kids were able to pick up the slack in different areas,” Olson said. “I thought Brenleigh played really well. She hit some threes. Jade (Gottier) played well defensively. Getting all our guards more minutes is going to give them more confidence moving forward.”
Wragge just missed a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds to go with her game-high 21 points. Daum poured in 14 points while going 4-for-8 from 3-point range. Mueller added nine points and Quinn and Erin Vieselmeyer chipped in eight apiece.
The Bulldogs face another GPAC road test on Saturday when they trek to Mount Marty (13-8, 7-6) for a 2 p.m. tipoff. Concordia has won each of the last 10 meetings with the Lancers, who are coming off an upset win at No. 1 Morningside (84-77) on Wednesday.