Late-season scoring explosion carries Morris to GPAC Player of the Year honors
SEWARD, Neb. – A rash of injuries in the middle of the season threatened to derail the Concordia women’s basketball team. That’s when junior point guard Bailey Morris lifted the Bulldogs on her back and led them to their second GPAC regular-season title in three seasons.
The incredible late-season run is a big reason why the conference named the sparkplug guard the Hauff Mid-America Sports GPAC Player of the Year on Wednesday.
“With the losses of Connie (Kristen Conahan), Jericca (Pearson) and Britney (Birtell), we needed people to step up,” head coach Drew Olson said. “Bailey took on extra responsibilities with leadership, scoring, ball handling, and minutes. She took on a big load. I believe Bailey was the most dominant player, scoring 34 at Dakota Wesleyan and 45 against Northwestern. It showed what an incredible scorer she can be in big games and that she can score in many ways.”
Morris made her presence known not just on the conference platform but also on the national stage with her school record-setting 45-point performance in an 89-78 victory over then No. 3 Northwestern on Feb. 15. That effort resulted in NAIA Division II National Player of the Week honors and her third-consecutive GPAC Player of the Week award.
The native of Roseland, Neb., led the GPAC in scoring at 19.4 points per game, the highest scoring average for a Bulldog women’s basketball player since Shelly Poppe posted a school record figure of 21.4 in 1986-87. Morris really got going from Jan. 18 to Feb. 26, a stretch that spanned 12 games and saw her average 24.5 points. During that time, she posted three of the top five single-game scoring outputs in school history.
But Morris has been more than just a scorer. She also ranks second in the GPAC with 4.0 assists per game and fifth with 2.45 steals per contest. She is an all-around performer that gives opponents fits on both ends of the floor.
“Bailey is extremely athletic, she’s a great shooter and finisher inside, and she has incredible vision on the floor,” Olson said. “And she is a tough competitor that drives her team to win.”
While Concordia has been a regular in the nation’s top 25 ever since the formation of the GPAC in 2000, Morris’ selection as GPAC player of the year is the first such honor in the history of the Bulldog women’s basketball program.
Morris currently ranks 11th on the Concordia all-time chart with 1,374 points in 99 career games. At 601 points this season, she has a shot to break Poppe’s program record of 664 points in a season (1986-87). Morris will also enter next season within reach of Sarah Harrison’s career scoring mark of 1,800 points.
Morris and company will find out their seeding and opponent for the national tournament on Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs will play in the first round at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, on either March 12 or March 13.
5 March 2014
Junior Bailey Morris