3rd Quarter Sparks Season-Opening Win

The Cobber defense led by Kirstin Simons (#42) collapses around a Minn.-Morris post player during Concordia's season-opening win over the Cougars.
The Cobber defense led by Kirstin Simons (#42) collapses around a Minn.-Morris post player during Concordia's season-opening win over the Cougars.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/15/17)--- Concordia used a 16-point third quarter to overtake Minn.-Morris and hung on for a 58-53 win in the season opener for both teams.

The Cobbers trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter but then outscored the Cougars 16-7 in the decisive period to overcome a three-point halftime deficit and earn their first win of the season.

Concordia built up a nine-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter but then watched as Morris trimmed the lead all the way down to two points with just over one minute to play but then a pair of free throws by guard Jamie Mentzer and a stellar defensive stand gave the Cobbers the five-point victory.

The Cobbers connected on four 3-point field goals and shot 40.0% (6-for-15) from the floor in the third quarter while the defense limited the Cougars to only three field goals and an 18.0% (3-for-16) shooting percentage from the floor. Morris went 0-for-7 from outside the arc in the third quarter of play.

It took the new-look Cobbers a full quarter to get into an offensive rhythm. After shooting only 30.7% from the floor and 28.5% from 3-point range and scoring only 11 points in the first quarter, Concordia was able to get on track and scored at least 15 points in each of the final three periods of play.

The difference in the game came from beyond the arc where Concordia made 11 3-pointers and shot 36.7% (11-for-30) from long range as compared to seven 3-pointers and a 25.9% (7-for-27) rate from outside the arc for Morris.

The Cobbers also held a 43-35 edge in rebounding and had their reserves outscore Morris 19-4. 

Concordia had four players connect on a pair of long range shots during the game as they spread the ball evenly among the five players on the floor.        

Mentzer led all Concordia players with 14 points and was one of the four who knocked down two shots from long distance. She was 4-for-6 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. She also had a team-high seven rebounds.

Junior center Kirstin Simmons went 3-for-4 from the floor, scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds.

Fellow junior Grace Wolhowe came away with seven rebounds and a black eye and also added five points and three assists.

SEASON OPENER STATS: The win marks the second straight year that the Cobbers have bettered the Cougars in the season opener. Concordia is 6-4 in the last 10 season openers and only two of those have come at home.

SUPER SUBS: Concordia played 10 players on Wednesday and the second five for the Cobbers was comprised of three sophomores and two freshmen. Lexi Nelson, Aleya Parker, Mira Ellefson, Elizabeth Birkemeyer and Amber Lingen combined to score 19 points and grab 16 rebounds. They also connected on four of the team's 11 3-point field goals.

OFFFSEASON WORKOUT PROGRAM: Jamie Mentzer's offseason workout program must have included some time at the free throw line. Last year Mentzer shot 52.2% from the free throw line and didn't make more than two free throws in a single game. She missed at least one free throw in eight of the nine games she had foul shots. Her best effort was a 2-for-2 performance. Mentzer was 4-for-4 in the season opener and made the two free throws that iced the game in the final minute of play.

WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will hop on a plane and head to California to play in the Redlands Tip-Off Classic. The Cobbers will play Chapman (Calif.) on Friday, Nov. 17 and then host Redlands on Saturday, Nov. 18. Chapman will be playing its first game of the season on Friday while Redlands is 1-0 after beating La Sierra on Wednesday.