Women’s basketball draws No. 2 seed and first-round matchup with Olivet Nazarene
SEWARD, Neb. – For the third-straight season, and for the 13th time in program history, Concordia women’s basketball is headed to the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships. The 2014 bracket, released Wednesday night by the NAIA, matches the second-seeded Bulldogs against No. 7-seeded Olivet Nazarene University. The first-round clash is set to tip off at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12.
All 31 games of the national tournament will be contested at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Led by GPAC Player of the Year Bailey Morris, the Bulldogs (25-7) have earned a trip to Sioux City for the sixth time in the last seven years. They enter the grand stage winners of nine of 11 games and co-champions of the GPAC regular season.
“It’s pretty cool that we’ve become a program that reaches the national tournament annually,” said eighth-year head coach Drew Olson. “It says a lot about the players we’ve had and the talent we’ve been able to bring in. Each team is different. Every year you have to form a new identity and togetherness, and we’ve been able to do that successfully.”
Meanwhile, 25th-ranked Olivet Nazarene (22-10), a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, received an automatic bid to the national tournament by way of a runner-up conference tournament finish. In two games this season against GPAC opponents, the Tigers have fallen to both Briar Cliff and Morningside.
Guided by second-year head coach Lauren Stamatis, Olivet Nazarene employs a hyper up-tempo style that has it leading the nation in scoring at 108.1 points per game. Olson acknowledges that the Tiger press and frenetic offense will be a challenge to prepare for.
“I don’t know how I’m going to coach against them yet,” Olson said. “I saw them play at the national tournament last year and I’ve seen them play one other time, but I’ve never gone against them.”
Concordia and Olivet Nazarene have not met since Nov. 12, 2004 when the Todd Voss-coached Bulldogs rolled to a 107-54 victory. The two teams have never played each other in a national tournament game.
Morris and company will be looking to eliminate the bad taste left after last year’s first-round exit. Concordia was bounced when fifth-seeded Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) pulled a 66-60 upset of the third-seeded Bulldogs at the 2013 event.
Olson believes this year’s team may be in a better position to make a run, for a number of reasons.
“I feel real good about where we’re at,” Olson said. “Last year I sensed we were struggling a little towards the end of the season. This year I don’t feel that at all. We’re still improving and growing as a team and I think we’re mentally in a better state.”
Concordia’s deepest national tournament advancement under Olson came in 2012 when the Bulldogs won three games to reach the semifinals. That’s when College of the Ozarks (Mo.) clipped Concordia, 74-70.
As the No. 8-rated team in NAIA Division II, Concordia ranks fourth among the 11 schools that received at-large bids. A total of 21 squads gained entry into the tournament by way of automatic bids. Morningside and Northwestern earned the two GPAC automatic berths, while Hastings joins Concordia in the at-large pool. The four GPAC national qualifiers, all co-regular season champions, were each placed in their own quadrants of the bracket.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the first 28 games from Sioux City. An all-tournament pass (28 games) is available for $29.95, while a single day pass can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
For more information on the 2014 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, click here.
- In its first 12 appearances at the national championships, Concordia has posted a record of 18-12 with three trips to the national semifinals and four quarterfinal finishes. The Bulldogs are 8-4 overall in first-round games, including a 7-2 mark in the last nine first-round contests. All of the program’s 13 national qualifying seasons have come since 1992 – the same year the NAIA split into two divisions for both men’s and women’s basketball.
- Concordia carries a record of 3-6 this season against teams that have qualified for the national tournament. The three wins have come against Morningside, Northwestern and College of Saint Mary. Setbacks were to Hastings (twice), Jamestown, Morningside and Northwestern (twice).
- Seven of the 14 players on the Bulldogs’ official national tournament roster have prior experience at the national tournament. These seven individuals have combined for 27 career games over appearances in 2012 and 2013. The following players have each played in five national tournament games: Kristen Conahan, Kelsey Hizer, Lori Laboda, Bailey Morris and Tracy Peitz. Concordia will be without Jerrica Pearson (torn ACL), who has also appeared in five contests at the Tyson Events Center.
- Among those players, Conahan is the leading national tournament scorer with 13.8 points per game, including a 26-point effort in a quarterfinal victory over Grand View in 2012. Conahan was named NAIA second team all-tournament in 2012 when the Bulldogs made a run to the national semifinals. Morris, a freshman on the semifinalist squad, has averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 assists over the last two national tournaments.
- In the program’s first 30 games at the national tournament, the Bulldogs have averaged 70.3 points per game while allowing an average of 64.3 points. The school record for most points in a single tournament game came in 2003 when Concordia defeated William Jewell (Mo.) 88-44 in the second round. The Bulldogs’ stingiest defensive effort occurred in 2005 when they held Western Baptist to just 28 points in a 70-28 first-round victory.
- Head coach Drew Olson has been at the controls for each of Concordia’s past six national tournament appearances (including 2014). Olson also helped the Bulldog men to two national tournaments as a player and was part of three such trips to the grand stage as an assistant men’s coach at Bellevue University (Neb.). Eleventh-year assistant coach Amy Harms has served on Olson’s staff for all six national tournament appearances since 2008 and played in national tournaments in 2002 and 2003 as a member of the Bulldogs. The 2003 squad owns the school record with 36 wins and advanced to the national semifinals.
- Olson became the fifth coach in program history to lead the Bulldogs to the national tournament when he made his first appearance as head coach in 2008. Now with six national tournament appearances, Olson has three more than Todd Voss for the most among head coaches in school history. Here are the all-time records for Bulldog coaches at the national tournament:
- Todd Voss: 8-3 (three appearances; two Fab Fours; one quarterfinal finish)
- Drew Olson: 7-5 (six appearances; one Fab Four; two quarterfinal finishes)
- Mark Lemke: 2-2 (two appearances; one quarterfinal finish)
- Micah Parker: 1-1 (one appearance)
- Carl Everts: 0-1 (one appearance)
- Concordia has made a living in the top 10 of the national rankings. With its No. 8 positioning in Wednesday’s new poll, the Bulldogs have now appeared in the top 10 in 37-straight polls. Concordia held down the top spot on four occasions last season.
- Great Plains Athletic Conference members have won 11 of the last 13 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships. Northwestern has five national titles during that stretch while Hastings and Morningside each have three. The GPAC has advanced at least two teams into the Fab Four six-straight years and in 12 of the past 13 years. In 2012, Concordia, Briar Cliff and Northwestern all reached the semifinals.
5 March 2014
First round: Wednesday, March 12 - 8:30 a.m.
No. 8 Concordia vs. No. 25 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)
Head coach Drew Olson and the Bulldogs are headed to the national tournament for the third year in a row and for the sixth time in the past seven years.