Jessica Heintz helped the Cobbers go on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes and beat St. Ben's.
One Down, One To Go!
Courtesy of GoCobbers.com, Release: January 16
St. Ben's Box Score - Now Online!
Gameday Scoring Summary
Gameday Action Pictures
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Gameday Game Recap
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- After the first half of conference play, MIAC experts and insiders were expecting the league title to come down to a two-team race between St. Ben's and Gustavus. They used phrases like, "these two teams will be battling for the top spot," and described the recent game between the Blazers and Gusties as a game "played by the number one and two seeds in the MIAC standings." Unfortunately, the experts forgot to look a little farther north than St. Joseph.
Concordia, seeking payback for a 29-point loss at the hands of St. Ben's in the first game of the conference season, rattled off the final 10 points and handed the Blazers their second consecutive loss. The Cobbers rode the strength of sophomore post Melanie Hageman to come away with a 78-69 home win. Hageman finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. She was joined by frontcourt teammate Tori Ehlert who added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
For Hageman it is the sixth straight game she has scored in double figures. It is also the fourth time this season that she has scored over 20 points and fourth time she has recorded a double-double. Ehlert also posts her fourth double-double of the year.
The loss bumps the Blazers from a three-way tie for first place and locks the Cobbers in a dual with Gustavus for the top spot in the conference. Concordia will now set their sights on the Gusties as the two teams square off in another title-deciding game on Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Moorhead.
Concordia is 9-2 in conference play and 11-4 overall. The Cobbers have won six of their last seven games and nine of the past 11. St. Ben's, who falls to 8-3 in the MIAC and 11-4 overall, loses back-to-back games for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 campaign when they lost to Gustavus and Carleton. That year Concordia ended the Blazers' season with a 73-70 victory in the MIAC playoffs in St. Joseph.
Saturday's game featured 13 ties and 17 lead changes as the teams tangled in another tradition-rich struggle. The biggest lead by either team before the final 30 seconds was six points. Concordia built a lead of six points twice in the first half but in each case, the Blazers quickly rallied and cut the deficit to within one point within three minutes.
St. Ben's biggest lead of the game was five points at 7-2 as the Blazers stormed out of the starting block, hoping to put the Cobbers away early and duplicate their blowout win earlier in the year. Concordia showed that this is a completely different team and are ready for the battle at the top as they went from a five-point deficit to an 11-10 lead in less than three minutes.
The Cobbers then went on the offensive throughout the remainder of the first half. They would sprint to a lead and then the Bazers would reel them. Concordia watched an six-point lead evaporate in the final minutes of the first half. St. Ben's narrowed the gap at the break to one at 34-33 when Judy Falvey connected on a layup in the final second of play.
The second half featured more of the same. The teams traded the lead 12 times and the game was tied on seven occasions in the final 20 minutes of play.
The game was turned in the final two minutes of play. After the Blazers grabbed a 69-68 lead with 2:26 to play, Concordia refused to let the game slip away. Hageman made a layup and made good on the following free throw to convert a traditional 3-point play at the 2:01 mark.
After the teams traded missed jumpers, Cobber head coach Jessica Rahman called timeout and set up a play for junior guard Annie Keeley. Keeley was open from outside the arc and nailed the first of her two coffin-nailing, 3-point shots. Her basket gave Concordia a five-point lead at 74-69 and forced St. Ben's into running an offensive set for a long-range shot.
The next possession might have been the most critical of the game. After the Blazers called timeout, Darby Noreen's 3-point shot rattled in and out and allowed the Cobbers to get the ball back with a comfortable lead and only :33 remaining in the game.
Forced to foul, St. Ben's smartly elected to put freshman Jenna Freudenberg on the line. Freudenberg's subsequent trip to the foul line was a microcosm of Concordia's progression from the first St. Ben's. In the conference opener, Freudenberg was 1-of-5 from the field and finished with three points and three turnovers. On Saturday in the final seconds of the game with her team needing a pair of successful foul shots, Freudenberg stepped up and calmly swished both shots and stuck the final dagger in the hopes of the Blazer comeback attempt. Freudenberg finished the game with nine points and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
After another missed 3-point attempt from Noreen, Concordia's Jessica Heintz made two more free throws to push the final score to 78-69.
In the end, the most telling statistic of the game came at the foul line. Both teams went to the line 17 times in the game. The Cobbers were 16-of-17 (95.8%), while St. Ben's uncharacteristically shot only 59.4% (10-of-17). Entering the game, the Blazers led the league in free throw percentage (71.4%).
Concordia had four players score in double figures. Besides Hageman and Ehlert, Keeley finished with 11 points and was 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Sophomore Emily Swierenga hit on a pair of critical 3-point shots in the game and added 10 points.
St. Ben's was led by MIAC MVP candidate Anna Heikenen who had a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Noreen was the only other Blazer player to finish with more than nine points. She chipped in 11 points and had had two of the Blazers' four 3-point field goals. St. Ben's was shooting 40.1% from behind the arc before the game but could only muster 30.8% (4-of-13) against the Cobbers.
Concordia will turn around and host the other member of the 2005-05 MIAC elite trio. The Cobbers will face Gustavus on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 5:45pm. The Gusties are the hottest team in the league at the moment, having won seven straight.
The game can be heard live via the internet at: