SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The Concordia University women’s basketball team had not suffered defeat at the hands of Dordt since falling in double overtime in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Jan. 5, 2013. History repeated itself on Wednesday night (Jan. 2) with a downer to begin 2019 for the Bulldogs. The 13th-ranked Defenders rallied from a 20-point first half deficit and won in two extra periods, 97-92.
The defeat snapped a five-game win streak for 13th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad, which had notched December wins over No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 2 Southeastern University (Fla.). Concordia is now 14-2 overall and 8-2 in conference play.
“They’re a really good basketball team,” Olson said of Dordt. “We let them have a little bit of hope in that second quarter, which ended up costing us. They kept fighting and fighting and it turned into a really good basketball game in the second half. I’m proud of our kids for fighting, especially in the fourth quarter and in overtimes. Dordt just made more plays than us.”
Few observers watching the action inside De Witt Gymnasium likely would have predicted the eventual outcome when a Grace Barry basket pushed the Bulldog lead to 39-19 midway through the second quarter. Similar to the situation in the victory over Southeastern, Concordia’s offense ran dry and Dordt, led by star Erika Feenstra, rattled off the final 13 points of the first half.
Despite that push, the Bulldogs seemingly had weathered the storm. Budding star guard Taylor Cockerill went off after halftime, at times carrying the Concordia attack. She displayed just about every move in the arsenal while staking her side to a 75-59 lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Cockerill poured in each of her team high 29 points after the break.
“TC was great,” Olson said. “We just need more kids to be able to step up like that. Grace did a great job, but she can defend better. Philly (Lammers) and Colby (Duvel) have to stay out of foul trouble. We need Quinn Wragge to be more aggressive consistently. Hopefully we learn from this.”
The Defenders (14-4, 7-3 GPAC) responded with a stunning 18-2 run to force overtime. Siennah Stamness capped it by burying the game-tying triple. With the shot clock off, the Bulldogs turned the ball over with a chance to win it. It felt in those moments that Concordia was back on its heels. As good as Cockerill was, the Bulldogs failed to go on one of their patented runs during the 10 minutes of overtime.
Feenstra is as impressive as advertised. She tallied 32 points and 12 rebounds in powering a signature win for the host. A much improved outfit, the Defenders are on track to reach the national tournament for the first time in program history. One of the NAIA’s top rebounding squads, Dordt held a 63-47 advantage on the boards, helping it overcome a 35-24 disadvantage in turnovers.
Barry (15) and Lammers (10) joined Cockerill in double figures. Lammers fouled out during the first overtime period. Quinn Wragge snagged 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and swiped two steals. As a team, Concordia shot 39.4 percent (37-for-94) from the floor. It got burned at the foul line – 10-for-14 compared to 24-for-37 for the Defenders.
A run of six-straight games versus nationally ranked opponents will continue on Saturday when fifth-ranked Northwestern (15-1, 9-1 GPAC) pays a visit to Walz Arena for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff. It will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Red Raiders since they clashed in the 2018 national semifinals. Concordia won, 84-77.