Lady Bulldogs encouraging each other. Photo courtesy of Lyric Allen
By Elisha Meyer
The journey to another Great Plains Athletic Conference Championship started with a bang Wednesday night, as a 19-point performance from sophomore MacKenzie Koepke helped the Concordia University Bulldogs cruise to a 95-46 win over the Midland Warriors.
The last time these teams clashed was last Wednesday in Fremont. The Bulldogs barely established any sense of a lead in that game, only leading by as many as 12 points. This was thanks, in part, to a well balanced shooting attack for the Warriors, who made 48.9% of their shots. Coach Drew Olson said that he was proud of his team for the adjustments they made coming into the postseason.
“It was huge, getting to see how we played at their place, watching on film,” Olson said. “I think our players saw the difference in how hard we can play. They made that adjustment tonight, and they were fantastic.”
Last week’s game also displayed the talents of Concordia’s starting lineup, which throughout the year has consisted of seniors Riley Sibbel, Philomena Lammers, Grace Barry, Colby Duvel, and Koepke. The five players combined to score 61 of Concordia’s 75 points in the contest.
The Bulldogs, now with a championship to play for, refused to have a similar outcome. They performed as such, building a double digit lead in the first quarter that would never change sides. The Bulldog offense sported a 52.9 shooting percentage as well as a 41.4 shooting percentage from 3-point range.
The Bulldog defense also stepped up from last week’s performance. Warrior players turned the ball over 34 times, with Bulldog players stealing the ball 29 of those times.
Midland could never get the ball to fall in its favor, shooting only 24.5% from the floor. Nearly a third of Midland’s points came from the foul line, with Warrior players going 15-23 on free throws.
Leading the charge for the Bulldogs was Koepke, who came out of the locker room all smiles after a 19-point performance. 14 of her points came in the first half alone. She was the only starter not to score in last week’s game, going 0-4 in 15 total minutes of play. When comparing the two performances, Koepke said that sometimes it just takes a rough day to get things going.
“Sometimes I feel like you just have those bad days, and I think last week, that was just that bad day,” Koepke said. “So I needed to fix something, and I did.”
Also scoring for the Bulldogs was Barry with 15 points, followed by Lammers with 10 points. Every single Bulldog that played found her way onto the scoreboard.
The loss means the end of the campaign for the Warriors. A solid February that included the upset of the No.7 Morningside College Mustangs on Feb. 5 was not enough to turn the tides on the season. The Warriors end with a 12-19 overall record and a 8-15 record in conference play.
The Bulldogs, who hold the No. 1 seed in the postseason bracket, are set to take on the Dordt Defenders, who defeated Dakota Wesleyan University 75-55 Wednesday night. The Bulldogs currently hold a 2-0 record against the visiting Defenders. Olson said that despite previous success in the past, this is no team to sleep on.
“They’re a tough team,” Olson said. “Kind of a tough matchup because of their size. I also feel like we’ve done a really good job against them in the past. We’ll go back to the videos, what we did against them and see if we can make some adjustments.”
The team was honored during halftime of the men’s basketball contest for its regular season championship. Women’s basketball only held a share of the podium, however, in what has proven to be a very successful winter for Concordia athletics. The women’s track and field and men’s wrestling teams were also honored for their GPAC titles.