Mueller's big night propels Bulldogs to CIT title game

Mueller’s big night propels Bulldogs to CIT title game

MEQUON, Wis. – A Concordia University Wisconsin team not used to losing pushed the eighth-ranked Concordia University Nebraska women’s basketball team to the wire in front of a packed house inside R. John Buuck Field House. Ultimately, the Bulldogs prevailed, 73-60, fueled by a big night for freshman Becky Mueller on Friday’s day one of two at the annual Concordia Invitational Tournament.

The 23-time CIT champions improved to 17-5 overall on the season, overcoming at times sloppy play.

“It was a great CIT atmosphere,” Bulldog head coach Drew Olson said. “Give a lot of credit to our kids for continuing to battle and withstanding a lot of the Concordia-Wisconsin runs. They’re a really tough team. They were 15-1 coming in and proved to be a good team. I was really proud of our kids for defending, especially in the second half.”

Mueller stayed aggressive all night in a starring role. She put up 10 points in the first half and then 13 more in the second half to finish with a career best 23 points. She got two crucial buckets late in the game when the Falcons twice pulled within five points. Mueller expertly walled off defenders for points in the paint.

“Becky was fantastic – just great aggressiveness both inside and outside,” Olson said. “She was really looking to score, which is something we need.”

When things got tight, point guard Bailey Morris (19 points, eight rebounds, three steals) provided a boost along with Mueller. In one particular stretch late in the game, Morris chased down a defensive board and then went coast-to-coast for the layup. She followed with a pull up jumper from the elbow with the shot clock running down to make it a 10-point game with 6:11 left.

The final score provided a deceiving picture of a game that stayed close until the final couple minutes. The Falcons got 15 points from their star, Katie Luethe, and frustrated the Bulldogs into 17 turnovers. CUW also limited every Bulldog not named Morris or Mueller to less than 10 points.

The Bulldogs seemingly had control up 64-53 with 4:20 left after another Morris jumper. However, the Falcons ran in the next six points – four from Luethe – to make it interesting in the waning moments. That’s when Mueller rose to the occasion once again.

CUNE finished with a significant advantage in field goal percentage – 51.7 percent to 39.7. It also grabbed 40 rebounds to the Falcons’ 34.

Coming off the bench for the Bulldogs, junior Ashley Kuntz notched eight points, two rebounds and two steals. Junior Tracy Peitz scored six points and hauled in seven rebounds before fouling out late.

The Bulldogs join Wisconsin Lutheran College as the only teams this season to defeat Concordia-Wisconsin, a member of NCAA Division III’s Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.

Olson’s crew will go for the program’s 24th CIT title on Saturday at 5 p.m. Concordia University Ann Arbor will serve as the opponent. The matchup pits Olson against his 2012-13 graduate assistant coach and Bulldog alum Thad Sankey, who is in his first year as head coach of CU-Ann Arbor.

“It’s going to be fun. I’m really proud of Thad and what he’s doing at Concordia Ann Arbor,” Olson said. “It’s going to be a really fun game, a little weird at times, but I’m excited to play against him.”

The two teams also met in last year’s CIT title game in which the Cardinals came out on top, 73-69, in Seward.

24 January 2014

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Freshman Becky Mueller