Concordia's lone senior Tori Ehlert has the honor of cutting down the nets after Concordia's 65-56 win over Carleton.
One Sweet World!
Courtesy of GoCobbers.com, Release: February 25
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Gameday Scoring Summary
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Gameday Game Recap
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Concordia knocked down seven three-point field goals in the second half to erase an 11-point halftime deficit to come from behind and beat Carleton 65-56 in the championship game of the MIAC Tournament.
For the Cobbers, it is their first conference tournament crown in the six-year history of the event. With the victory they earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The national playoff appearance will be the 15th time the Cobbers have participated in the NCAA postseason tournament. It will be their first since the 1995-96 season when they lost in the first round to Bethel 64-60.
Concordia had three players factor in double figures but none were more crucial than the 12 second-half points put up by freshman guard Jessica Heintz. Heintz went scoreless in the first half and then came out and knocked down four shots from behind the arc to ignite the comeback. She also added a career-high seven assists.
Cobber sophomore post player Melanie Hageman scored a game-high 17 points. She was aided by the result of Concordia's hot outside shooting in the second half as the Knights had to extend their defense and not double down on Hageman every time down the court.
Annie Keeley shook off a tough first half that saw her go 1-of-5 from 3-point range to finish with 16 points. She hit one of the key baskets in the game. With the shot clock ready to run out, and the Cobbers trying to finish off the game in the final two minutes, Keeley freed herself in the right corner and calmly drained the long-range shot to give the Cobbers a double-digit advantage.
Carleton had only two players score in double figures and no player post more than 12 points. Senior Megan Vig scored a team-high 12 points, but was held to only two points in the decisive second half. Vig also claimed six rebounds. Kari Christianson had 10 points and also grabbed six rebounds.
With the win, the Cobbers improve their overall record to 21-6. It is the second time in the three seasons under head coach that Concordia has won 21 games in a season. They also won 21 games in 2003-04 when the Cobbers lost to Carleton in the conference championship game.
Carleton has their four-game winning streak halted and slides to 18-10 on the season. They cling to an outside chance of receiving an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights threatened to duplicate their championship title game appearance from two years ago when they held the Cobbers to only 40 total points and only 17.5% shooting from the field. After the teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes, Concordia went ice cold from the field and allowed Carleton to go on a 12-0 run to take a 25-13 lead and establish command of the game. The Knights would push the lead to 13 at 29-16 before the Cobbers were able to get two back before the end of the first half.
Concordia shot just 21.4% (3-of-14) from 3-point range in the first half and just 33.3% from the field (9-of-27) as the Knight's tactic of taking away the post play of Hageman paid off.
Trailing 33-22 at the break, the Cobbers watched as Carleton extended the lead to 13 on their second possession of the half. That basket at the 19:13 mark from Hannah Oken-Berg would be the last field goal for the Knights for almost seven minutes. During that stretch, Concordia went on a 16-0 run and went from a 13-point deficit to a three-point lead.
Vig hit a jumper from the lane to cut the lead to one at 41-40. That was followed by a field goal from Ashley King as the team's entered the final 10 minutes of the game with the score 43-40.
In recent games, Concordia has thrived in the final stretch of the game, outscoring opponents in the final 10 minutes of the game in 15 of the past 17 games. The championship game would be no exception as the Cobbers held a 22-16 advantage in the last half of the second period.
A pair of 3-point shots by the Cobbers sealed the fate of Carleton. With the lead cut to just two points at 46-44 with 6:42 left to play, Heintz canned her third long-range shot of the game.
The Knights quickly cut the lead to three points on a basket by Anna Biewen. On the next possession, Tori Ehlert found herself free behind the arc and hit a back-breaking 3-point shot that established a six-point lead at 52-46.
Concordia pushed the lead to 14 points with 3:38 to play before Carleton made their final run of the game. The Knights had whittled the deficit to seven points with 2:25 left to play, which set the stage for Keely's dagger-like 3-point shot.
For the game, Carleton held a 27-22 advantage in rebounds but turned the ball over 19 times as compared to only 11 for Concordia. The Cobbers turned that advantage into a 21-7 edge in points scored off of turnovers.
The Knights shot a blistering 85.7% (12-of-14) from the free throw line, but the Cobbers did that one better by going a perfect 7-of-7 from the line.
Concordia will find out their first-round national tournament opponent and site of the game on Monday, Feb. 27.