Led by Peitz, Bulldogs win another heart stopper

Led by Peitz, Bulldogs win another heart stopper

SEWARD, Neb. – Unlike Saturday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory, the seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday on the way to a 78-77 victory over visiting Midland. Just like Saturday, the Bulldogs nearly made their fans go into cardiac arrest before holding on for their seventh-straight win overall and 11th consecutive in the series with the Warriors.

The Bulldogs improved to 23-5 overall and 15-3 in the GPAC to edge back into first place in the conference race.

“We survived,” eighth-year Bulldog head coach Drew Olson said. “I don’t know how we did it, but we survived.”

Concordia led by as many as 11 points in the second half but nearly let it slip away entirely. Down only one with 2.7 seconds remaining, Midland (13-14, 9-8 GPAC) had one last chance only to watch Taylor Shepard’s 10-foot jumper rim out just before the buzzer sounded. It was the second-straight game Concordia had to wait until the clock hit zeroes before relaxing.

Somehow the Bulldogs had found another way to win coming off an emotional weekend victory.

“I think we were still really emotionally drained from the Saturday win at Dakota Wesleyan,” Olson said. “It was a big comeback, very emotional to win on a buzzer beater. You could just kind of see it in our practices on Monday and Tuesday. We didn’t have our legs. We didn’t have our focus. It was good just to get a win today.”

Midland, a team that has knocked off four top 25 opponents this season, hung around until ultimately falling victim to Concordia’s dynamic junior duo of Tracy Peitz and Bailey Morris (18 points). They combined for 38 points. Peitz piled up 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.

In two victories over Midland this season, Peitz has put up a combined 46 points. The native of Hartington, Neb., appeared to flourish in an offense that received some tweaks this week.

“I’ve had some confidence issues lately,” Peitz admitted. “But I think the new offense we started has given us some new opportunities to be free and do what we’re good at. I think that’s helped me a little bit.”

Seemingly in control in the second half, Concordia surrendered an 11-0 run that tied the score at 63-63 in the latter part of the second half. The Bulldogs responded with seven points a row, punctuating the spurt with a Becky Mueller triple from the right wing with 5:43 left. The Warriors then came right back to set up another pulse-pounding finish.

Midland got back into the game in part due to a 41-30 rebound advantage while riding a game high 22 points from star Jamila Johnson. However, they could not overcome a 38-22 disadvantage in points in the paint.

The one-point victory came on the heels of the aforementioned 86-84 doozy of a contest at Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 8. The Bulldogs triumphed when Mueller scored at the buzzer off a baseline out of bounds.

On Wednesday, Mueller came through with 14 points, powered by four 3-point field goals.

The Bulldogs are back home on Saturday for Senior Day as they host GPAC heavyweight and third-ranked Northwestern (22-3, 14-3 GPAC) at 2 p.m. In the season’s first meeting between the two squads, the Red Raiders defeated a short-handed Concordia squad 86-68 in Orange City. Northwestern fell 97-76 at Dakota Wesleyan on Wednesday night.

With Concordia now out in front of Northwestern and Hastings by a half game at the top of the standings, Saturday’s game carries significant meaning.

“I’m excited,” Peitz said. “Last time we played them we didn’t play very well, but we were also missing Connie (Kristen Conahan) and Bailey, which is a big part (of our team). We just want to get back at it.”

12 February 2014

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Junior Tracy Peitz