Concordia coach David Miller said his Cadets still have a long way to improve, especially on defense, but they came away with a 70-40 win over Northrop on Saturday night in the first SAC game of the season.
“(Northrop) is a pretty quick team, and they drove to the basket. We didn't contain the ball on the perimeter well at all, so we have a lot of work to do that way,” Miller said. “We didn't have any help stepping in and recovering. They did a nice job of just attacking, and getting us in foul trouble, because we weren't good on ball tonight.”
Despite some struggles on defense, the Cadets (2-0) jumped out to an early lead. Senior Chanteese Craig hit her first three shots, and Concordia pulled ahead by 15-1.
Fouls were a problem for both teams (Northrop had seven in the first quarter, and Concordia's Rhaya Kaschinske, LonDynn Betts and Chastity and Chanteese Craig each had two fouls in the first period), but Northrop (1-1) didn't make the Cadets pay. The Bruins hit just 6 of 14 free-throw attempts in the first half. In fact, not counting senior TiAuna White, the Bruins were 1 of 8 on free throws for the game.
Still, Miller said the foul situation inhibited his team's play.
“As a player, you start thinking about that, so it can affect your play,” he said. “We're running kids in and out. We only have seven varsity kids right now, with one quarantined. So it's pretty thin.”
The Cadets led 31-12 at halftime as senior Grace Hedtke hit three 3-pointers in the first half (she finished the game with four).
The Bruins, meanwhile, connected on just three field goals in the first half, two of them layups by White late in the second quarter.
In the second half, Concordia's 6-foot sophomore Annaka Nelson really got going. She had six points in the first half along with three fouls. In the fourth quarter, she hit five straight shots to stretch the Cadets' lead from 53-36 to 63-36. She finished with a game-high 26 points.
“Last year, as a freshman, she wouldn't look to score,” Miller said. “...Now, she's doing a tremendous job of playing with confidence, looking at the basket, taking advantage of what the defense is giving her. So she's playing pretty well. She's a very skilled offensive player.”
Hedtke finished with 15 points. Chanteese Craig scored 13, and sister Chastity scored three in the first game since their mother's death Wednesday.
White led the Bruins with 20 points.