MOORHEAD, Minn. (12/2/15) --- Concordia started MIAC play on Wednesday night and had a chance to knock off No. 9 St. Thomas but missed lay-up opportunities and lost a close 52-47 decision at MSU Moorhead.
The loss came despite a career-high 22 points from Greta Walsh as the Cobbers lost by five.
Playing at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse on the campus of MSU-Moorhead due to the annual Concordia Christmas Concert, the Cobbers managed to score just two points in an 8:14 stretch in the second quarter and could not overcome the 9-2 Tommie run.
With the loss Concordia drops to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in MIAC play while St. Thomas remains perfect at 6-0 and 1-0 in conference play.
Walsh was dialed in from distance early. On Concordia's first possession she rattled home a deep ball from the top of the key to give the Cobbers a 3-0 lead. A few possessions later she connected from distance again that gave CC a 6-5 lead with 4:48 to play in the opening quarter.
St. Thomas' Mykenzie Spaulding closed out the half with a buckets for the Tommies that gave them a 13-10 lead after the first quarter.
Jenna Januschka paced the Cobbers in the first two minutes of the second quarter with a jumper and a layup and Walsh answered moments later with another triple to tie the game 17-17.
Katie Stone responded with a trifecta of her own followed by a Gabby Zehrer transition layup that pushed the Tommie lead to 22-17 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
Having not scored in over three minutes, Jamie Mentzer stepped up when the Cobbers needed a basket. The freshman peeled out in transition and wove her way through a pair of defenders for the scoop lay in to make it 22-19 Tommies.
Spaulding ended the second quarter just like the first quarter. She knocked down an elbow jumper and squeezed through the lane for a layup at the 3:36 mark of quarter. Neither team would score the rest of the half and St. Thomas clutched a 26-19 lead headed into the intermission.
Concordia struggled to get good looks in the paint and could not connect aided by a 9-2 run over the final 8:14 of the second quarter. Mentzer's basket with 5:06 to play in the half was the only bucket over the eight-minute plus stretch.
Walsh and Januschka answered coming out of the half. Walsh wiggled loose in transition for a layup and Januschka canned a 3-pointer on a kick-out to make it 28-24 just over a minute into the third quarter.
Concordia would not score for the next three minutes until Crystal Amundson hit a baseline jumper to make it 30-26.
Kaitlin Langer got to the line and knocked down a free throw and then was the benefactor on a terrific skip pass from Stone for the wide-open jumper. Stone hit a triple on the ensuing possession that pushed the Tommie lead to 36-26.
The young Cobbers weathered the storm. Mentzer made her way to the charity stripe on consecutive possessions and knocked down all four attempts. With Concordia in the bonus, Hannah Jeske also took a trip to the line and swished a pair of free throws to make it 39-32 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
Then No. 3 took over.
Walsh hauled down a rebound and finished on the other end through contact drawing the foul. She completed the old-fashioned three-point play but wasn't done. On the next trip down the floor Walsh wove through a maize of Tommie defenders and finished with a tear-drop floater off the glass through even more contact. She connected from the line to make it 41-38 but a Tommie basket at the end of the half gave St. Thomas a 43-38 advantage heading into the final quarter.
St. Thomas threw the first punch of the fourth quarter. Morganne Gruber dropped in a floater and Langer stepped to the line and knocked down a pair to make it 47-38 Tommies.
Trailing 47-42 with just over three minutes to play Concordia desperately needed a basket. They got one from their junior point guard from Litchfield, Minn. on a step-back corner 3-pointer.
Langer and Olivia Johnson would exchange hoops to keep the game within two points with 1:32 to play. The Cobbers could not manage to score on their final three possessions as St. Thomas escaped with the 52-47 win.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF TURNOVERS: The numbers across the board were relatively equal. UST outrebounded CC 38-36, outshot CC at a clip of 38.2% (21-of-55) compared to 28.3% (15-of-53) and had 11 turnovers compared to Concordia's 15. The Tommies took advantage of Cobber mistakes as they scored 11 points off of turnovers. Concordia did not score off any St. Thomas turnovers.
SHE'S GOOD FROM EVERYWHERE: Greta Walsh poured in a career-high 22 points on 8-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-10 from downtown. She also chipped in four rebounds and two assists, and made one play that won't show up in the box score. In between her pair of "and-one's" Walsh drew a huge charge on the defensive end that helped turn the momentum.
UNTIL NEXT TIME: Being that Wednesday's game was the only game scheduled against the Tommies this season the Cobbers will have to wait until next year to face St. Thomas. The last time CC defeated UST was in February of the 2013-14 season when the Cobbers escaped with a 60-57 win in a thriller. The team also defeated St. Thomas 71-58 earlier that season.
WHAT'S NEXT? Concordia will travel to Arden Hills on Saturday to take on Bethel. The Royals stand at 3-2 overall, having dropped a pair of non-conference games versus Maryville (Tenn.) and at Wis.-River Falls. The team opened MIAC play with a 76-61 win over St. Kate's.