OMAHA, Neb. – Heading into Thanksgiving, the top-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team is exactly where it wants to be, at least in terms of wins and losses. The Bulldogs ran away and hid with the help of a 15-0 run to begin the third quarter in Tuesday night (Nov. 20)’s matchup at College of Saint Mary in Omaha. Concordia blew out the Flames, 88-55.
This marks the third time during head coach Drew Olson’s 13-year tenure that the Bulldogs have won nine-straight games to open up a season. Concordia is 5-0 in conference play.
“Everybody kind of got in on making some threes and that was nice to see,” Olson said. “I know we can still shoot at a higher percentage. I was pleased with how we adjusted defensively in the second half and how our players were leading and talking to each other. They did a great job of figuring out how to attack them with our press, especially in that third quarter.”
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Thanksgiving week for the Bulldogs to feast on turnovers, but the takeaways continue to drive their dominance. They forced 31 more on Tuesday in a contest that was pretty well in hand by the close of the first quarter when Concordia led 26-14.
Turnovers bit College of Saint Mary (1-8, 0-4 GPAC) especially hard right out of the halftime break. Four in the opening minute-and-a-half allowed the Bulldogs to build a lead that turned out to be insurmountable. It also wound up being a night to shine for freshman Mackenzie Koepke, who drilled back-to-back treys to cap the 15-0 run. At that point it was 63-26 in Concordia’s favor at the 5:29 mark of the third quarter.
The mismatch created another opportunity for plenty of reserves to see extended minutes off the bench. Koepke, a Lincoln Lutheran High School grad, topped the Bulldogs with a career best 14 points to go along with seven rebounds. Also in a reserve role, Elsie Aslesen contributed seven points, nine rebounds and three steals. The starting group was led by Quinn Wragge (12 points, eight rebounds), Taylor Cockerill (11 points, seven rebounds, three steals) and Philly Lammers (nine points, nine rebounds, two blocks).
Though it was a victory by a 33-point margin, the Bulldogs were not as razor-sharp as they are capable of playing. College of Saint Mary came out and surprised Concordia by playing a zone defense. At times, the Bulldogs burned it (15-for-40 from 3-point range), but they shot only 35.7 percent overall and committed 28 turnovers.
“Tonight I wanted to see us do the little things right and I thought we did a lot of that defensively, rebounding and running the floor,” Olson said. “But I thought the turnovers were too much.”
The Flames are still looking for their first win of conference play. Trista Merrival paced the home team with 15 points and five assists. Corryne Millett added 10 points. College of Saint Mary was held to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor.
The Bulldogs will now enjoy Thanksgiving weekend off before returning to action next Wednesday (Nov. 28) when they will host 11th-ranked Morningside (6-1, 4-1 GPAC). Concordia has won five meetings in a row over the Mustangs. Head coach Jamie Sale’s squad suffered its only loss so far this season at the hands of No. 8 Northwestern, 91-66, on Nov. 17.