Bulldogs reclaim CIT trophy; Morris earns MVP honors
MEQUON, Wis. – The eighth-ranked Bulldog women’s basketball team ramped up its fullcourt pressure and scored the game’s first 13 points on the way to an impressive 70-50 win over Concordia University Ann Arbor in the Concordia Invitational Tournament title game on Saturday. It’s the 24th CIT title in the history of the Bulldog women’s basketball program – most all time.
“I thought we had great energy to begin with. Our pressure got to them at the beginning,” Bulldog eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “It kind of wore them down and they took some shots they’re not used to taking. I thought our defense was really, really good throughout the whole game.”
The nasty Bulldog defense came out with an intense fullcourt pressure look that caused 11 turnovers in the opening eight minutes. CUNE (18-5) already enjoyed a double digit lead less than four minutes into play when freshman guard Shelby Quinn sniped a triple. CUAA finally got its first field goal on a Tiffany Karger 3-pointer at the 10:35 mark.
Once again the bulk of the production came from junior point guard and tournament MVP Bailey Morris (18 points, five assists) and freshman forward Becky Mueller (16 points, eight rebounds). Morris sparkled on both ends of the floor while Mueller again shined while doing most of her damage inside. Mueller, an Elkhorn, Neb., native, piled up a combined 39 points and 13 rebounds as part of a tremendous two-game CIT performance.
“To play this well on this kind of stage says a lot about her character, her toughness and her cool attitude,” Olson said. “She’s a really good player.
“And Bailey is carrying us at times, especially with the ball handling load and her decision making. She’s a great player. You can tell when she has her burst we’re a pretty good basketball team.”
Mueller was amazed by the spirited atmosphere, but never fazed.
“It’s definitely better than I expected,” Mueller said. “I wasn’t expecting there to be as many fans for us. That was a great surprise that we had people cheering for us.”
Head coach Thad Sankey, a Bulldog alum and graduate assistant under Olson last season, settled his team down after the rough opening minutes. CUAA even pulled with five points after star Brooke Adams nailed a pair of free throws with 14:48 left in the game. Less than four minutes later the Bulldog lead bulged back into double figures.
Seemingly anytime the Cardinals tried to muster a run, Morris (4-for-7 from three) would follow with a big shot. She also dished out five assists.
Morris’ shots and an inability to solve the Bulldog defense plagued CUAA, which shot only 31.3 percent and committed 30 turnovers. That tenacity on the defensive end was the biggest reason why CUNE raised the trophy on Saturday night.
“I’m just really excited. This was one of our goals for the season,” Mueller said. “We knew we could win and we knew we should win, but to actually win was really great.”
A throng of CUNE students rushed the floor to celebrate the CIT championship in Mequon, Wis., where the Bulldogs also captured a title in 2010.
The CIT title is the fifth for Olson, who also guided the program to championships in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
The Bulldogs return to the GPAC grind on Wednesday when they host Doane (10-11, 4-9 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CUNE won the first meeting in Crete by a score of 82-75. The Tigers are coming off 71-61 victory at Mount Marty on Saturday.
CIT All-Tournament Team:
MVP: CUNE – Bailey Morris
CUNE – Becky Mueller
CUAA – Brook Adams
CUC – April Broska
CUW – Anna Butler
25 January 2014
Tournament MVP Bailey Morris
All-Tournament: Becky Mueller