Concordia was never allowed to find open shooting lanes on offense and fell 61-37 to UW-Stout in the first round of the NCAA playofs.
Courtesy of GoCobbers.com, Release: March 3
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INDIANOLA, Iowa -- Facing a full court and a defensive pressure not seen throughout the conference season, Concordia fell to 61-37 to UW-Stout in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cobbers, making their first appearance in the national tournament since the 1995-96, was never able to get in-sync on offense and was held to a season-low points 37 points.
The loss ends Concordia’s season at 21-7, while the Blue Devils improve to 21-7. Stout, the regular-season and tournament champions in the WIAC, advance to play the winner of the St. Ben’s/Simpson game on Saturday, Mar. 4 at 7:00pm.
Too many turnovers and the inability to stop the overall depth of the Stout offense proved to be the key of the game for Concordia. The Cobbers committed 23 points and shot a season-low 29.8% (14-of-47) from the field.
Jenna Freudenberg led Concordia in scoring for the first time all season. She had 11 points. The Cobber frontcourt tandem of Melanie Hageman and Tori Ehlert was held to only 11 points. Hageman finished with six points and Ehlert added five. Leanne White had a game-high seven rebounds and also scored five points.
Kelsey Duoss, the WIAC Most Valuable Player, was one of only two players in double figures for the Blue Devils. She finished with a game-high 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Joanna Bird came off the bench to score 11 points. Bird was part of the Stout bench that scored 40 of the team's 61 points. The reserves played a big factor in being able to sustain the defensive pressure for the entire game and not let down on the offensive end when Duoss or the rest of the starters left the game.
By contrast, the Concordia bench only scored nine points in the game.
The start of the game was a typical opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament as both teams came out nervous and tight. It wasn’t until the 18:19 mark that the first basket was made. Stout was first on the board when Duoss scored on a layup. The Cobbers followed suit on the next possession with a pair of free throws by Melanie Hageman.
Those two free throws were part of a 5-0 run for the Cobbers in the next 23 seconds of play. The Blue Devils were able to get back on track and connect on the next four points. For the next five minutes the teams would trade baskets with Stout finally taking a 12-10 lead at the 10:48 mark. From that point one, the Blue Devil full court press began to wear on the Cobbers as they routinely took 15-20 seconds to get the ball up the floor and into their half court offense.
From the 10-minute mark, Concordia forced their possessions while Stout was able to get the ball inside and start hitting their shots from the perimeter. Their new-found confidence on the offensive end took them on a 10-0 run that put them up 22-10 at the 8:06 mark. The 12-point margin would be repeated two more times with the Blue Devils taking a 30-18 lead into the break. The Cobbers made a pair of key baskets in the final stretch of the opening period of play to keep the game from getting to far out of hand. Sarah Krabbenhoft made a clutch 3-point basket with the shot clock winding down, and Annie Keeley grabbed an offensive rebound among the trees in the lane and was able to put a shot up and convert the traditional 3-point play after getting fouled on the initial shot.
Concordia was only able to shoot 29.7% (7-of-24) from the floor in the first half and was a frigid 1-of-6 (16.7%) from behind the arc. Stout shot 50% (12-of-24) from the field and 44.4% (4-of-9) from 3-point range. Both teams had 15 rebounds in the period. Stout’s pressure defense forced the Cobbers into 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Stout’s offense was similarly out of balance as they committed 11 miscues.
The second half was more of the same for Concordia. The Cobbers scored 19 points in the second 20 minutes and were never able to get closer than nine points. Concordia pulled to within 36-27 with 14:42 left in the game but then Stout shut the door by reeling off the next 10 points to take a 46-27 lead with 12:00 left in the game.
By the final buzzer, Cobber head coach Jessica Rahman had substituted all her starting and key reserve players except lone senior Ehlert. Fittingly, Ehlert was left to lead the Cobbers at the end of the game.