The Concordian Sports March 8, 1996

Cobber women fall to Bethel 64-60

Cobbers finish 20-6 overall for the season after loss to Royals

by Colin Beltz

For the third time in as many years, the Cobber women's basketball team opened the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament against Bethel. After splitting the first two meetings and Concordia winning last year, Bethel took a 64-60 decision this time around to advance in the tournament while sending Concordia home.

The Cobbers, who advanced to the NCAA field of 64 teams for the 14th straight year, finished 20-6, placing third in the MIAC with a 16-4 mark. Concordia was led in scoring by junior Mindy Schirm with 18 points. Junior Holly Zollar added 13 points while junior Ann Mehrkens contributed eight points and pulled down 12 rebounds in a losing effort.

The Cobs remained close to the Royals throughout the game. The Bethel defense gave the Cobbers fits at times as they weren't able to get the ball to the right person at the right time.

"We couldn't get the outside-inside game going," said junior Nikki Swenson. "We couldn't get the ball inside, and then they were shutting us down outside."

At halftime, the score was tied at 33-33. It remained deadlocked until a three-pointer by Bethel's Vickie Estrellado broke the tie giving the Royals a 51-48 lead which they would never relinquish. Her basket sparked Bethel to a 10-2 run with less than eight minutes left in the contest.

However, the Cobbers would not go away easily. Although not playing at their best throughout the game, Concordia hung in because Bethel wasn't hitting free throws near the end of the game.

One thing was for sure, the home crowd did its part in helping Bethel win. They counted down the remaining time on the shot clock since the display above Bethel's clock wasn't functioning.

"I think a key to the game was the home court advantage," said junior Nikki Swenson. "If we would have had it, the outcome might have been different."

Before the tournament began, the All-MIAC team was named with Mehrkens and Zollar representing the Cobbers. Zollar was also chosen for the All-Defensive team.

The Cobber statistical leaders for the season were Mehrkens, Zollar and Swenson. Mehrkens led the team in scoring and rebounding with 11.9 points and 8.3 boards per game. Zollar was second in both categories with 11.7 points per game and six rebounds per contest. Swenson led the club with 88 assists while Zollar swiped a team high of 49 steals.

While the early first round loss may be disappointing, one look at next year's possibilities will turn any frown into a confident grin.

All but one member from this year's team will be back. Jodi Tulibaski was the lone senior on this year's squad. In her senior year, she averaged 8.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Jill Carlin, the Cobbers' sophomore guard, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Hamline in the final home game. Cobber Head Coach Kathy Wall hopes that she will play next year.

"Jill brings a sparks, she's great on defense," said Wall. "She sets a good example of working hard."

Wall is also excited for next year.

"I am really excited," she said. "It's starts now with our preparation. We have to know how far we want to go."

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