Bulldog women's basketball thrill ride motors into GPAC semifinals

Bulldog women’s basketball thrill ride motors into GPAC semifinals

SEWARD, Neb. – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team made just one field goal over the last 11 minutes of regulation, but oh was it a big one. Bulldog freshman Shelby Quinn drained a triple in the final seconds to force overtime and Concordia narrowly escaped with a 93-91 win over upset-minded Midland inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night.

The wild GPAC tournament quarterfinal victory pushed the Bulldogs to 25-6 overall. They will travel to Orange City, Iowa, to take on ninth-ranked Northwestern (25-4) in the semis at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“When it comes down to it, this team is tough,” Olson said. “This team continues to find ways to win. I’m really proud of them.”

It appeared late in regulation as if the Warriors were going to snatch a stunning come-from-behind victory. Fifth-seeded Midland (15-16) led by as many as four points in the last 30 seconds and possessed an 84-81 advantage with the clock south of 10 ticks. That’s when point guard Bailey Morris found Quinn on the right wing for the biggest shot of the night.

“I got the ball from Bailey and I turned and saw that she was down – man down, hand down,” Quinn said. “I hesitated a little and realized I was going to go for it. She had her hands down so I just shot it.”

Quinn, who made all seven of her points count on this night, pulled off another game-turning play in overtime by sneaking in for a steal with the contest tied 88-88 and 41 seconds left on the clock. Morris scored on the next possession and Concordia got a defensive stop to essentially seal a wacky win.

“We just trust each other,” Quinn said. “We trust each other whether you’re shooting or the one passing to the shooter. We have an all-around good team chemistry. We just know how to win together.”

A severe field goal drought of more than 11 minutes prior to Quinn’s 3-pointer nearly doomed the Bulldogs, who relinquished an early second-half lead of 21 points. Suddenly, Concordia struggled to score and the Midland star tandem of Jamilah Johnson (23 points) and Sammi Licari (20 points) kept on coming.

The Warriors used a 22-5 run, culminating with Dani Andersen’s trey, to claim their first lead of the second half (77-74 with 2:36 left). Midland seemed to seize momentum again in overtime by scoring the first four points.

But the battle-tested Bulldogs had been here before.

“This team has something special,” Olson said. “We’ve been in so many of these types of games, but they just know how to fight. They know how to stay in games. They’re a really confident group together. That’s what makes them special. They really believe in each other and enjoy playing with each other.”

With Morris (35 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals) facilitating seemingly every basket, the Bulldog offensive attack looked sharp through the opening of the second half. Morris’ bucket in the paint with 19:15 left in the game put Concordia ahead, 53-32. Midland’s ensuing 14-4 run foreshadowed the thrilling finish that was yet to come.

The 35 points from Morris (a game high that tied for the third-highest single-game output in school history) were backed by two other double-digit scorers. Freshman Becky Mueller had 16 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Junior Tracy Peitz added 12 points, seven rebounds, six steals, five assists and a block.

Morris and company shot 46.9 percent compared to 45.3 percent for Midland. The Bulldogs went 25-for-37 from the free throw line while the Warriors were 25-for-35 from the charity stripe.

Concordia has now won 12-straight meetings with Midland. In addition, Wednesday’s win gave the Bulldogs 25 on the season, marking the ninth time the program has reached that total in the past 13 years.

The Bulldogs’ meeting with No. 9 Northwestern on Saturday will mark the second-straight season the two teams have faced off in the GPAC semifinals. Last year the Red Raiders stole an 85-83 win from Concordia in Seward in a semifinal tilt. In two meetings this season, the home teams have held serve in both instances.

26 February 2014

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Junior Bailey Morris