Photo description: Junior Kendal Brigham focuses intently on the game.
Photo credit: Kayla Korb (photo from previous game)
The Morningside Mustangs were in town Wednesday night to play the red-hot No. 11 Concordia Bulldogs who won convincingly, 86-62.
The victory marked the 446th in the storied career of head coach Drew Olsen, who now leads all of Concordia athletics in coaching wins, surpassing former men’s head coach Grant Schmidt.
“It feels good, but to me, it’s all about the team,” said coach Olsen after the historic night. “I have been blessed with so many amazing players and assistant coaches. It’s a really cool thing but it’s really them, their recognition and their accomplishments.”
While Olsen remained humble in his remarks after the game, the Bulldogs’ play on the court was much more boisterous. Thundering out to a 24-8 lead after the first quarter, it was clear the Bulldogs were much more bite than bark.
Leading the way offensively were the usual suspects. Junior Taysha Rushton finished the night with a team high 15 points on 15 total shots and four assists. While Rushton may not have had her best night from downtown, only draining two of her nine three-point attempts, the rest of the squad more than compensated — going 12 for 34 from beyond the arch as a team.
Junior Mackenzie Toomey continued a season-long trend of playing like a literal Bulldog, with the basketball being her bone. Toomey would finish the night with more steals (seven) than field goals (four), and still managed to boast nine points and two assists.
As a squad, there would be 13 total Bulldogs who logged at least two points Wednesday night, ultimately contributing to the lopsided final score. In the three games Concordia has played this season, the Bulldogs have scored a total of 256 points, which leads the Great Plains Athletic Conference over that time span.
“Our pace of play is key,” said coach Olsen regarding the high-flying offense. “It starts with our defense and creating lots of turnovers. We just play really fast — which works well with talented players.”
In many ways, turnovers were the name of the game. On the night, the Mustangs turned the ball over a remarkable 32 times. Perhaps even more remarkable however was the Bulldogs’ ability to capitalize, scoring 30 points off turnovers.
If the offense was the cake, the defense was the cherry on top of coach Olsen’s memorable night. The Mustangs, who were shooting 35 percent from three coming into the contest, finished the night only making three of 21 from three-point land — a performance that dropped their season-long three-point percentage to 30.2 percent.
“With our defense, we really speed people up and it causes them to be out of rhythm,” said coach Olsen following the smothering defensive performance, “I do think we did a really good job keying in on their good shooters and not allowing them to get good looks.”
Victory 446 in Drew Olsen’s career, and the third of the 2023-2024 season, ensures the Bulldogs will take an undefeated record into Orange City, Iowa in a showdown with Northwestern College.
Northwestern, while not undefeated, has won three of their last four; the only loss coming against No. 22 Maryville State, a contest the Raiders only lost by six points. Tip-off from Bultman Center will be at 5 p.m. on Saturday.