SEWARD, Neb. – Any hopes 16th-ranked Jamestown had of ending the Concordia University women’s basketball home win streak were stamped out with a dominant third quarter by the Bulldogs. The backcourt of Grace Barry and Taylor Cockerill controlled the game for No. 1 Concordia, which trampled the Jimmies, 87-59, inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 17).
First-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad not only moved to 8-0 overall (4-0 GPAC), it extended the program’s home win streak to 40. The most recent home defeat was suffered in January 2016.
“We’ve talked about (starting better in the second half) a little bit,” Olson said. “That was a good reminder at halftime of ‘hey, let’s make sure we stay focused and provide a lot of really good energy on the defensive end.’ They were phenomenal. You could just see them suffocate Jamestown in that third quarter.”
The script on Saturday was a familiar one for the Bulldogs, who often make it a chore for opponents to simply get the ball past midcourt. The Jimmies (5-2, 2-1 GPAC) actually held a 28-26 lead at the six-minute mark of the second quarter before crumbling in the face of Concordia’s pressure defense. Jamestown was guilty of 29 turnovers (21 in the first half). By the break, the Bulldogs had built a 12-point advantage (51-39) while wreaking havoc in transition.
Thus far, it’s been difficult to find a weakness in Concordia’s game. Barry and Cockerill continued to tear it up in backcourt, combining for 28 points and nine steals. Of course, whenever they run into trouble, they can drop it into the post to Philly Lammers, who racked up 21 points (7-for-11 from the field, 7-for-7 from the foul line) in 17 minutes of action. The length of Quinn Wragge was also a problem for Jamestown. She stole the ball seven times.
The versatility and depth of the roster has been on full display for Olson, who can throw a variety of zone looks at the opposition. That tenacious defense limited Jamestown to 36.2 percent shooting (6-for-31 in the second half).
“We have so many girls. We have a deep bench,” Cockerill said. “Everyone is just ready to play defense. We’re just having fun out there.”
That third quarter was a lot of fun from Concordia’s perspective. There was even a touch of déjà vu for those who recall how the Bulldogs outscored the Jimmies 38-10 during the third period of their matchup in the national quarterfinals this past March. This time around, Concordia owned the third quarter, 28-9. It ended with an 11-1 Bulldog splurge capped by a pair of Barry buckets. By the time the 10-minute stanza was up, Concordia had put the game away (79-48 lead).
Lammers was joined in double figures in scoring by Cockerill (15), Barry (13), Wragge (12) and Colby Duvel (10). Duvel especially sparked the Bulldogs in the opening quarter during which she dropped eight points. She also collected five rebounds and three steals for the game. As a team, Concordia shot 47.9 percent (34-for-71) from the floor and limited its turnover count to 15.
While scoring often grabs the headlines, it’s the Bulldog defense that gives opponents the most nightmares. Concordia entered the game leading the nation in steals per game and turnover margin.
“With our starting five it’s really good,” Olson said of its defensive performance. “We’re still trying to develop some of our kids off the bench. It’s still a work in progress, but I think our kids are getting better every day and we’re making really good strides.”
The Jimmies, coached by CUNE alum Thad Sankey, got a team high 17 points from Jory Mullen. Noelle Josephson added 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Bulldogs still have one contest coming up prior to Thanksgiving. They will be at College of Saint Mary (1-7, 0-3 GPAC) on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff in Omaha. The Flames are still seeking their first GPAC victory after an 82-62 home loss to Dordt on Saturday.