Seventh-ranked Bulldogs hang on in Crete, stay perfect away from home

Seventh-ranked Bulldogs hang on in Crete, stay perfect away from home

CRETE, Neb. – Seventh-ranked Concordia returned to its full-court pressure ways on Wednesday night and got back on track with an 82-75 win at Doane (3-7, 0-5 GPAC). The victory gave the Bulldogs their fifth straight in the series with the rival Tigers of Crete. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad bumped its records to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in GPAC action.

After a halfcourt-oriented defense forced an unusually low total of 17 turnovers in last week’s upset loss to Hastings, the Bulldogs went back to their patented pressure. They turned the heat up on the Tigers, who committed 27 turnovers, and hung on down the stretch for the road triumph.

“We wanted to try it out,” Olson said of his team’s full-court press. “We wanted to use more depth tonight. We’re getting more comfortable with that depth and Doane is a team that doesn’t use a whole lot of players. We felt like we could push the tempo and wear them out and that’s what we did to build the lead.”

The Bulldogs led virtually the entire way, trailing only briefly early in the first half. They built a double-digit lead early in the second half and then a 21-point advantage while getting help from a variety of contributors.

But the biggest key on this night was an energized effort on the defense end, providing a stark contrast in comparison to last week’s performance when Hastings put up 94 points and shot 52.8 percent. On this night, Doane struggled with pressure much of the game.

Hartington, Neb., native Tracy Peitz continued her impressive junior season, topping Concordia with 18 points. She was also a bear on the defensive end (seven steals) in showing off her array of talents.

“She’s a dominant player,” Olson said. “She can do so many things. She can shoot. She can drive. She can post up. She’s a nightmare for opposing ball handlers. She’s just a big-time player.”

Despite a deficit that bulged to 21 points, Doane climbed back into the game late on the back of guard Shelbi Bittinger (game high 20 points). The Tiger sophomore nailed back-to-back treys and then swooped in for a layup to get the Tigers within six.

Hannah Dostal’s bucket with 2:28 left made it a two-point game before Concordia responded with the next four points to restore order.

Senior forward Lori Laboda, the team’s leading rebounder the past two seasons, played for the first time this season on Wednesday. She missed the first nine games due to injury. She grabbed eight rebounds in 12 minutes of action. Said Olson of Laboda, “She played well for the first time out.”

Senior Kristen Conahan (13 points) and junior Bailey Morris (12 points) were the other Bulldogs in double figures. Of the 15 players called upon by Olson, 11 registered in the scoring column.

Olson’s crew remains perfect away from Walz Arena. The Bulldogs are now 4-0 in road games and 1-0 in neutral contests.

The Bulldogs return to the friendly confines of Walz Arena on Saturday when Dordt (6-3, 2-2 GPAC) visits for a 2 p.m. tip off. Concordia won two of last season’s three meetings with the Defenders as the home team came out on top in all three instances. Dordt’s upset of the then No. 1 Bulldogs on Jan. 5, 2013 ended Concordia’s unbeaten run after they began the season 15-0.

4 December 2013

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Junior Tracy Peitz