Defensive Clincher

Senior Olivia Johnson scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Cobbers beat Hamline 47-34 and clinch a spot in the MIAC playoffs.
Senior Olivia Johnson scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Cobbers beat Hamline 47-34 and clinch a spot in the MIAC playoffs.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/10/16)—Concordia rewrote one of the oldest sports clichés in the book at Hamline on Wednesday. We now know that, "offense wins games and defense clinches playoff spots."

The Cobbers used their best defensive effort of the season to outlast the Pipers and clinch their 14th consecutive MIAC playoff berth.

Concordia outscored Hamline 23-12 in the final 12:27 of the game in tradition-rich Hutton Arena and beat the Pipers 47-34.

The win keeps Concordia locked in a tie for third place in the MIAC standings. The Cobbers are now 15-7 in all games and 11-4 in league play. They are now just 1.0 games behind second-place St. Mary's.  

The Cobbers trailed 24-22 after not having scored a point for the first 7:30 of the third quarter before junior Greta Walsh knocked down a 3-pointer and kick-started Concordia's 12-minute finishing kick.

Concordia's defense forced 21 turnovers in the game and held the Pipers to just 31.3% (15-for-48) shooting from the floor and a scant 9.1% (1-for-11) from outside the arc.

Olivia Johnson set the tone for her night when she drained a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the first quarter. The long-range make would be the start of a 20-point, 10-rebound game for the senior.

Johnson would connect on a field goal 1:25 later and Concordia jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The Cobbers held the lead for the entire first quarter but watched as Hamline cut the margin to just two points at the end of the period.

Leading 11-9, the Cobbers scored the first four points of the second quarter after Walsh converted an old fashioned "and 1" 3-pointer. She would then go the conventional route two possessions later to give CC a 17-11 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Pipers scored the next six points to tie the game at 17-17 but then a Katie Rosenfeldt jumper and a basket from Johnson reclaimed a four-point lead and would help Concordia take a 22-19 lead into the halftime break.

The third quarter turned ice cold for the Cobbers as they went 0-for-6 from the floor and committed eight turnovers in the first 7:30 of the period. Fortunately for CC, their defense was clicking at a very high level. Concordia held the Pipers to just five points during that same period and the Cobbers only trailed 24-22.

Walsh ended the drought with a long-range shot and then hit a jumper to give CC a 27-24 lead. Jenna Januschka would score on a lay-up and that would start a 6-0 run to end the period.

Hamline scored the first two points of the final quarter before Johnson made two free throws and then the Cobbers went on a 9-2 run to put the game out of reach.

Concordia finished the game by shooting 29.1% from the field (16-for-55) and 18.8% (3-for-16) from outside the arc. The Cobbers continued their tradition of being solid at the free throw line as they shot 75.0% (12-for-16) from the charity stripe.

Concordia's 14 straight MIAC playoff appearances date all the way back to the 2002-03 season.  Head coach Jessica Rahman has guided her team to the conference postseason in all 13 seasons at Concordia. The 14-year playoff streak is the second longest of any team in the MIAC.   

Concordia's defensive effort on Wednesday is another example of the Cobbers getting the job done in 2016. CC currently leads the MIAC in fewest points allowed in conference games. The Cobbers are allowing only 51.9 points per game in their 15 league contests. That is over 2.0 points better than the team with the second fewest points per game. The 34 points allowed against Hamline is the least by a CC opponent since Dec. 12, 2010 when they held St. Mary's to 34 points.

Senior Olivia Johnson pulled off a little-known double-double in a span of 96 hours. On Saturday she earned a spot in the MIAC Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet in the shot put by coming up with the second-best distance in the conference this season. On Wednesday she posted a basketball double-double to earn her second MIAC championship spot. Her 20-point, 10-rebound game helped CC make the playoffs and was her fourth double-double of the season.

3 + 22 = 74
Junior Greta Walsh came up with several clutch baskets on Wednesday and finished with 15 points on a 5-of-17 shooting night from the floor. Her 15 points combined with Johnson's 20 totaled 74.4% of the team's total offensive output for the game. Walsh's 15 points marks her fifth straight game she has scored in double figures. She has scored at least 10 points in 17 of the team's 22 games played. She is currently second on the team in scoring with a 13.7 ppg average.  She is also tied for second in the MIAC in 3-pointers made in league games (35).

Concordia will be looking to improve on its playoff position when it hosts St. Benedict on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. The game is the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game and is dedicated to former Cobber Leanne Miller (White)  Leanne played for the Cobbers from 2004-07 and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Leanne  passed away from breast cancer in 2014.