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Eric Peterson, Published February 21 2012

Cobbers edge Bethel in first round of MIAC tournament

MOORHEAD – A heavy dose of defense with a sprinkling of offense proved to be a winning combination for Concordia.

The Cobbers held Bethel to 28 percent shooting from the field Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium. That stinginess helped lift Concordia to a 55-50 victory against the Royals in the first round of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament.

“Defense, for us, is what wins games,” said Cobbers sophomore Alexandra Lippert, who scored a team-high 14 points and added eight rebounds.

The Cobbers (18-8) play at Gustavus (19-6) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the MIAC semifinals. Concordia advanced to the conference semifinals for a second consecutive season.

“I love the way that we played with confidence, and I love the way that we stayed aggressive and kept attacking,” Cobbers head coach Jessica Rahman said.

Bethel took a 33-30 lead after Kristi Nye sank a foul shot with 16 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the second half.

The Cobbers countered with an offensive stretch that proved to be the difference. Concordia scored 17 of the next 22 points to vault into the lead for good.

Tricia Sorensen capped the rally. The 5-foot-11 junior scored off a rebound that gave the Cobbers a 47-38 lead with 6:50 remaining. All 17 Concordia points during that game-changing stretch were scored inside or near the paint, or at the foul line.

“We scored insid,e and that was a big part of the game,” Rahman said.

Bethel rallied to cut the Concordia lead to 51-49 with 35 seconds remaining after senior Taylor Sheley drained two fouls shots.

The Cobbers hit four consecutive free throws in the final 35 seconds to secure the victory. Concordia made 13 of 13 free throws for the game.

“We brought energy the second half,” Lippert said. “I think we were realizing that this could be our last game of the year, and if we wanted to go farther, we had to step it up.”

Sheley paced the Royals with a game-high 16 points, but was 5-for-22 from the field. The 5-foot-9 guard led the MIAC in scoring during the regular season, averaging 19.8 points per game.

“Sheley is a great player, and we knew we had to contain her some way, somehow,” Rahman said. “I think it kind of took them a little out of their game when she couldn’t have it in her hands as much.”

BETHEL (14-12): Nye 6-10 1-2 13, Dalquist 1-2 3-6 5, Montbriand 2-5 0-0 5, Swenson 1-14 4-4 7, Sheley 5-22 5-6 16, Handzus 0-0 0-0 0, Thomsen 0-1 0-0 0, Petrich 1-2 0-0 2, Berscheid 0-3 0-0 0, Parker 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 17-61 13-18 50.

CONCORDIA (18-8): Sorensen 5-11 0-0 10, Lippert 6-13 2-2 14, Jossart 2-4 3-3 7, Vance 2-4 0-0 4, Thesing 2-11 6-6 10, Rosedahl 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 1-5 2-2 4, Benjamin 3-5 0-0 6, Walloch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 13-13 55.

Half: CC 24, BU 22. 3-point goals: BU 3-9 (Montbriand 1-3, Swenson 1-1, Sheley 1-4, Thomsen 0-1), CC 0-3 (Sorensen 0-1, Thesing 0-1, Fisher 0-1). Total fouls: BU 12, CC 15. Rebounds: BU 39 (Dalquist 10), CC 40 (Sorensen 11). Assists: BU 5 (Nye 2), CC 14 (Jossart 5). Steals: BU 7 (three players with 2), CC 5 (Benjamin 2). Turnovers: BU 9 (Sheley 3), CC 15 (Sorensen 4, Thesing 4).


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com