JAMESTOWN, N.D. – As head coach Drew Olson remarked in the postgame, this was a contest that felt a lot like the one three days ago. For the second time in four days, the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team held off the upset bid from a hot shooting opponent. Thirty-three turnovers forced helped carry the Bulldogs to a 76-66 victory at Jamestown on Saturday (Feb. 22) afternoon.
The win capped the regular season and the fourth-straight GPAC regular-season title for Olson’s monster of a program. Concordia won this championship outright with a nearly spotless 21-1 GPAC record (28-2 overall).
“It’s pretty impressive what this group has done considering some of the injuries,” Olson said. “But they’re just a really tough group that continues to fight every game. To win a GPAC title means a lot because it’s such a great conference. This is a really special group.”
The host Jimmies did not allow the Bulldogs to simply coast to an outright championship. While shooting 11-for-25 from 3-point range and 47.7 percent overall, Jamestown trailed by as few as four points in the final quarter. Despite all the turnovers forced, Concordia never led by more than 11 the entire afternoon. Grace Barry once again served as the closer by putting up nine of her 17 points in the final period.
All five starters reached double figures for the Bulldogs, who have played with a shortened bench over the past couple of weeks. Philly Lammers enjoyed stretches of domination and finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots. Colby Duvel (14), Mackenzie Koepke (12) and Riley Sibbel (10) also found their way into double digits. Sibbel’s three-ball midway through the fourth provided much-needed breathing room.
“Thankfully the turnovers were there because we struggled offensively,” Olson said. “We couldn’t get in a good rhythm. I felt like our defense stepped up and our seniors stepped up … this was the exact same game we had on Wednesday with Midland where we didn’t play our best and the opponent shot really well. We were still able to grind it out.”
Head coach Thad Sankey (CUNE alum)’s team had been a solid 9-4 at home this season. The Jimmies (16-14, 9-13 GPAC) got a big performance off the bench from Macy Nilsen, who shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range on her way to a game high 19 points. Other than a minus-19 turnover disadvantage, Jamestown also lost the free throw battle big – 25-for-36 for Concordia compared to 13-for-21 for the Jimmies.
Just like Wednesday, the rotation was more limited for the Bulldogs. Each of the starters played 27 or more minutes and the bench contributed only five total points. In reserve roles, MacKenzie Helman grabbed five rebounds and Rylee Pauli notched four boards.
The Bulldog seniors have never gone a season without capturing a conference title. Their four-year record in GPAC regular-season games finishes at 78-6. They now take aim at a fourth-straight GPAC tournament championship.
As the No. 1 seed in the GPAC tournament, Concordia will get to play at Walz Arena for the duration of its stay in conference postseason action. The Bulldogs will draw eighth-seeded Midland (12-18, 8-14 GPAC) in the GPAC quarterfinals. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. CT in Seward on Wednesday (Feb. 26). Concordia has won 12-straight GPAC tournament home games dating back to 2013.