2013-2014 Women's Basketball

25-8 Overall, 16-4 GPAC (T-1st) - Season Stats

NOVEMBER

Nov. 1 Mount Mercy University (Iowa) Webcast Scheduled Des Moines, Iowa W, 79-65
Nov. 2 (17) Grand View University (Iowa) Webcast Scheduled Des Moines, Iowa W, 87-82
Nov. 5 (23) College of Saint Mary Omaha, Neb. W, 96-89
Cattle Classic: Nov. 8-9 (also view Cattle Classic page for more tournament info):
Nov. 8 Doane vs. Valley City State  Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. 1 p.m.
Nov. 8 vs. (10) Univ. of Jamestown (N.D.) Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 74-77
Nov. 9 Doane vs. Jamestown Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. 12 p.m.
Nov. 9 vs. Valley City State (N.D.) Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb W, 80-63
Nov. 16 * (3) Morningside College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 90-82 (OT)
Nov. 23 * (12) Briar Cliff University Webcast Scheduled Sioux City, Iowa W, 80-72
Nov. 26 * Hastings College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb.
L, 89-94

DECEMBER

Dec. 4 * Doane College Webcast Scheduled Crete, Neb. W, 82-75
Dec. 7 * Dordt College Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.
W, 89-66
Dec. 11 * Nebraska Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.
W, 94-65
Dec. 12 York College Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.
W, 95-55
Dec. 14 * Mount Marty College Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.
W, 109-86
Dec. 20 * Dakota Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.
W, 85-66
Our Lady of the Lake Halo Classic: Dec. 30-31 - San Antonio, Texas
Dec. 30 (10) Bethel University (Tenn.) Webcast Scheduled San Antonio, Texas L, 92-99
Dec. 31 Evangel University (Mo.) Webcast Scheduled San Antonio, Texas W, 77-62

JANUARY

Jan. 4 * Dordt College Webcast Scheduled Sioux Center, Iowa W, 81-63
Jan. 8 Midland University Webcast Scheduled Fremont, Neb. W, 82-74
Jan. 11 * (2) Northwestern College Webcast Scheduled Orange City, Iowa L, 68-86
Jan. 18 * Briar Cliff University Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 79-63
Jan. 22 * (9) Hastings College Webcast Scheduled Hastings, Neb. L, 65-78
Concordia Invitational Tournament:  Jan. 24-25
(view the CIT pages at CUNE for more information)
Jan. 24 CU-Wisconsin Webcast Scheduled Mequon, Wis. W, 73-60
Jan. 25 CU-Ann Arbor (CIT title) Webcast Scheduled Mequon, Wis. W, 70-50
Jan. 29
* Doane College Webcast Scheduled
Seward, Neb.  W, 83-62

FEBRUARY / MARCH

Feb. 1 * Mount Marty College Webcast Scheduled Yankton, S.D. W, 60-53
Feb. 5 * Nebraska Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled Lincoln, Neb. W, 72-54
Feb. 8 * Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, S.D. W, 86-84
Feb. 12 * Midland University Webcast Scheduled (Red Out) Seward, Neb.  W, 78-77
Feb. 15 * (3) Northwestern College Webcast Scheduled (Senior Day/Fan Appreciation) Seward, Neb.  W, 89-78
Feb. 22 * (7) Morningside College Webcast Scheduled Sioux City, Iowa L, 77-86
GPAC Tournament: Feb. 26, March 1, 4
Feb. 26 Midland University Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb.
W, 93-91 (OT)
March 1 (9) Northwestern College Webcast Scheduled
Orange City, Iowa
L, 80-101

MARCH

NAIA National Tournament: March 12-18
-Watch Live -  Concordia webcast scheduled
March 12 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) Sioux City, Iowa L, 86-91


*
Indicates Great Plains Athletic Conference Games

All Home Games in BOLD

2013-14 Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown Previous School
10 Devin Edwards G 5-6 Fr. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Northeast
12 Bailey Morris G 5-4 Jr. Clay Center, Neb. Sandy Creek
14 Tracy Peitz G 5-10 Jr. Hartington, Neb. Hartington Cedar Catholic
20 Lori Laboda F 5-11 Sr. Parker, Colo. Chaparral
22 Kristen Conahan G 5-5 Sr. Omaha, Neb. Millard North
24 Kelsey Hizer G 5-10 Jr. Parker, Colo. Parker Lutheran
30 Shelby Quinn G 5-5 Fr. Bellevue, Neb. Bellevue East
32 Taylor Wissing G 5-8 So. Seward, Neb. Seward
34 Becky Mueller F 5-10 Fr. Elkhorn, Neb. Omaha Concordia
40 Jenna Lehmann F 6-2 So. Albion, Neb. Boone Central
42 Jericca Pearson F 5-10 Jr. Gibbon, Neb. Gibbon
44 Alayna Daberkow F 5-11 Fr. Madison, Neb. Madison
50 Karissa Segelke G 5-9 Fr. Sidney, Neb. Sidney
52 Britney Birtell F 6-0 Sr. Madison, Neb. Lutheran High Northeast
54 Ashley Kuntz F 5-10 Jr. Blair, Neb. Omaha Concordia
  Rachel Royuk G 5-6 Jr. Seward, Neb. Lincoln Lutheran

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Drew Olson

Assistant Coach: Amy Harms

Graduate Assistant: Debi Smith

Concordia to host all-star cast at Oct. 12 women's basketball coaches' clinic

4 OCT 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – An impressive list of women’s basketball coaches, including two with Concordia connections, will headline the Saturday, Oct. 12 coaches’ clinic hosted by Concordia University. Current Bulldog head women’s basketball coach Drew Olson and former head coach and alum Todd Voss will each conduct sessions of one hour and 15 minutes in length that day.

“I’m extremely excited to welcome roughly 100 high school coaches to our campus for a clinic featuring such distinguished collegiate women’s basketball coaches,” Olson said. “It’s also a huge privilege to be able to speak among these great coaches. To have Coach (Connie) Yori and Coach (Jim) Flanery, among others, speak at Concordia is a big deal.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln head women’s basketball coach Connie Yori and associate head coach Sunny Smallwood, Creighton University head coach Jim Flanery and University of Illinois associate head coach Mike Divilbiss will all take turns speaking inside Walz Arena next Saturday (schedule below), in addition to Olson and Voss.

For Voss, who led Bulldog women’s basketball to a school record-setting 36-2 mark in 2002-03, the opportunity to return to his alma mater next week is one he could not pass up.

“I always love coming back to Concordia,” Voss said. “Concordia University holds a very dear spot in my heart and for good reason. It has had a huge impact on my life. It is a place full of so many special memories for both me and my wife, Amy, who also is a Concordia graduate.”

Voss also feels honored to be part of an accomplished cast of coaches at the clinic.

“It’s a great lineup of coaches and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Voss said. “I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with all the speakers in this event through my coaching career, and I know that it will be an outstanding clinic. I look forward to presenting and learning from some of the great minds in the game.”

Dan Lesoing of the Cornhusker Shooting Stars AAU team served as the primary organizer of the event.


Oct. 12 coaches’ clinic schedule:

  • 8:15 – 9:30 a.m. – Todd Voss, Southwest Baptist University
  • 9:45 – 11 a.m. – Connie Yori, University of Nebraska
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Mike Divilbiss, University of Illinois
  • 1:15 – 2:30 p.m. – Sunny Smallwood, University of Nebraska
  • 2:45 – 4 p.m. – Drew Olson, Concordia University
  • 4:15 – 5:30 p.m. – Jim Flanery, Creighton University

Bulldog women's basketball pegged as GPAC co-favorite

10 OCT 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s 2013-14 Bulldog women’s basketball team has been chosen as a co-favorite in the always loaded GPAC. Concordia and Morningside tied for first with 93 points each in the GPAC Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll, released Thursday afternoon by the league.

Olson’s squad picked up five of 11 first-place votes. Morningside, the defending GPAC regular season and tournament champion, received four first-place votes and Northwestern received the two remaining first-place nods.

Concordia is coming off a season in which it went 25-7 overall with a 16-4 conference mark on the way to finishing runner up to the Mustangs in the GPAC. The Bulldogs advanced to the NAIA national tournament for the fifth time in the past six seasons and for the 12th time in program history. After getting ousted by Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) in round one, Concordia checked in at No. 9 in the postseason edition of the coaches’ top 25 poll.

This season will be somewhat of a transition for each of the top three squads in the preseason poll. All three lose a top player from last season. Northwestern says goodbye to National Player of the Year Kendra De Jong, Morningside graduated star Chelsie Trask and much of its backcourt and the Bulldogs’ Katie Rich, the 2012-13 Concordia Female Athlete of the Year, also departs.

The strength of the Bulldogs will again be their backcourt with senior All-American Kristen Conahan and junior Bailey Morris back in the fold.

2013-14 GPAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

T1. Concordia – 93 (5)
T1. Morningside – 93 (4)
3. Northwestern – 84 (2)
4. Briar Cliff – 73
5. Dakota Wesleyan – 64
6. Hastings – 52
7. Dordt – 43
8. Mount Marty – 39
9. Midland – 33
10. Doane – 21
11. Nebraska Wesleyan – 10

2013-14 Concordia women's basketball season preview

29 OCT 2013

At a glance:
2012-13 Record:
 25-7 overall, 16-4 GPAC (2nd)
Head Coach: Drew Olson (166-67, 7 years; 5 National Tournament appearances; 1 GPAC regular-season title)
Returning Starters: Kristen Conahan (Sr.), Lori Laboda (Sr.), Jenna Lehmann (So.), Tracy Peitz (Jr.)
Other Key Returners: Britney Birtell (Sr.), Kelsey Hizer (Jr.), Ashley Kuntz (Jr.), Bailey Morris (Jr.), Jericca Pearson (Jr.), Taylor Wissing (So.)
Total Letter Winners Returning/Lost: 10/3
Key Losses: Beth Kohmetscher, Dawn Martin, Katie Rich
2012-13 GPAC All-Conference: Kristen Conahan (first team), Katie Rich (first team), Bailey Morris (second team), Lori Laboda (honorable mention), Tracy Peitz (honorable mention)
2012-13 NAIA All-America: Kristen Conahan (first team), Katie Rich (honorable mention)

OUTLOOK

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

Another basketball season has arrived in the Cornhusker State where expectations are high as usual for a Concordia women’s program aiming for its sixth national tournament appearance in seven seasons. Star do-it-all guard Katie Rich has graduated, but plenty of weaponry remains in the form of backcourt mates Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris.

Last year’s squad went 25-7 and finished second in the GPAC, but the Bulldogs still fell short of their own lofty expectations after concluding the season with a first-round national tournament loss to Cardinal Stritch University.

“I thought we did some good things, but we could have been a little bit better,” says eighth-year head coach Drew Olson. “We could have finished a lot stronger. Finishing 10-7 the last 17 games isn’t what we were capable of but I do think it motivated our kids.”

There will be plenty of motivation for Conahan, a returning first team All-American, who enters her final season as a Bulldog. There isn’t much the Omaha, Neb., native hasn’t yet accomplished as an individual. She has piled up 1,374 points and 273 3-point field goals in her 100 career games. She begins this season 426 points shy of Sarah Harrison’s school record of 1,800 career points.

“She’s an awesome player,” Olson said of Conahan. “She could go down as one of the best, if not the best. I think when we recruited her we thought, ‘she’s going to be a really good shooter.’ But we didn’t know what she was capable of as far as handling the ball and making great decisions. She’s turned herself into a great scorer.”

Conahan again teams with Morris, last season’s breakout star, in a backcourt that ranks among the NAIA’s best. Morris improved from 8.5 points per game and 28.6 percent 3-point shooting as a freshman to 14.6 points and 34.5 percent as a sophomore. Similar progression this season for the junior from Roseland, Neb., would be terrifying for opponents.

Things were already difficult enough last season for the opposition as Conahan and Morris tied for the GPAC lead in steals per game at 3.3. The duo fits perfectly into Olson’s philosophy that promotes an uptempo offense and a ball-hawking full-court press.

“We’re both just scrappy and quick,” Conahan said. “We’re both feisty girls and we like to get after it. We’re both really competitive people. We hate to lose and we’re not trying to lose anytime soon.”

More than anything else, Conahan has worked this offseason on fine-tuning her leadership qualities. With Rich gone, Conahan assumes the role as the primary senior leader. She’s the proverbial quarterback of a team built around her talents.

While Morris emerged as the unquestioned breakout performer of last season, 5-foot-10 junior Tracy Peitz appears to be the leading candidate to burst onto the scene this season. The Hartington, Neb., native fits the mold of Rich in her versatility on the court. Peitz has drawn rave reviews in the preseason for her improvement, especially in regards to her jump shot.

“She’s been working her butt off shooting and it’s really been showing off in practice,” Conahan said. “She didn’t have the best shot to begin with but she’s been working every single day, coming in and shooting and just doing really well.”

Olson believes Peitz has the ability to replace Rich as the conference’s defensive player of the year. Her length, athleticism and aggressiveness make her tough to handle on both ends of the floor.

“Now she’s turned herself into a pretty solid shooter and that goes along with the other parts of her game,” Olson said. “Incredible defender. Great driver. She can post up. She can get rebounds. She’s just a really good all-around player.”

The aforementioned trio of Conahan, Morris and Peitz serves as the team’s nucleus, but there are also seven other returners who have varying degrees of varsity experience. Senior forward Lori Laboda (6.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), junior forward Jericca Pearson (7.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and junior guard Kelsey Hizer (3.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg) provide great complimentary pieces. Laboda has led the team in rebounding the past two seasons while Pearson serves as one of the team’s more athletic players and Hizer pitches in as a superb defender and 3-point shooter.

Other key varsity returners include senior forward Britney Birtell and sophomore guard Taylor Wissing. A native of Seward, Wissing worked as hard as any Bulldog this offseason and is expected to see increased minutes in the backcourt. In addition, junior forward Ashley Kuntz and sophomore forward Jenna Lehmann add depth in the frontcourt. Kuntz brings a knack for finishing in the paint.

The returners will be challenged for playing time by freshmen forwards Alayna Daberkow (Madison, Neb.) and Becky Mueller (Elkhorn, Neb.). Both players were cited by Olson and Conahan as individuals who have had great preseason performances.

“One who has really stood out so far has been Becky Mueller from Omaha Concordia with her strength and her toughness,” Olson said. “She’s very similar to Tracy where she can score in different ways with her 3-point shooting, her drives, her post ups. She’s going to be a really good player for us right away.

“I think Alayna Daberkow’s got an opportunity too. She’s a freak athlete. If she can catch on with the speed of the game coming from a little bit smaller town – Madison – she’s going to be really, really good down the line.”

Daberkow (the younger sister of Concordia football defensive coordinator Patrick Daberkow) and Mueller will provide a boost in the post. The Bulldogs hope to improve on last year’s rebounding margin, which was virtually dead even with its opponents.

“I think our post players are good,” Olson said. “They’re going to be great with their roles. We’re asking them to defend and rebound and knock down shots from the perimeter and finish inside. I think they’re going to be fine. We’re going to get more post production from some of our guards as well. I think there’s no question about (the ability of) our post players.”

The return of Conahan and Morris is a big reason why Concordia landed in a tie for first with Morningside in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. The considerable expectations are nothing new for a program that has consistently found ways to fill the void when players like Rich move on.

“I think it’s good to have those expectations but we don’t really think anything of it,” Conahan said. “It’s cool to be No. 1, but it doesn’t mean anything (in the preseason). Coach (Olson) said in the beginning of the year, ‘we have a lot of talent but we haven’t done anything with the talent yet.’”

Elsewhere in the GPAC, Morningside and Northwestern also must replace star players as the Mustangs’ Chelsie Trask and the Red Raiders’ Kendra De Jong have both graduated. Thus, league coaches are expecting the perennial powers to reload once again.

“Those teams might have lost a player, but they never miss a beat. Every year I feel like Northwestern loses their best player and think ‘they can’t be as good as they were last year, right?’ They always have somebody step up. Northwestern’s going to be just as good as they always are. Same with Morningside losing all their guards. I know they’re going to replace them and Morningside’s going to be really good. And Briar Cliff loses quite a bit. I don’t expect any of them to really drop off at all. I just know that they’re all going to be really good and the middle and the bottom teams are all getting much better.”

The 2013-14 campaign tips off on Friday, Nov. 1 when the Bulldogs take on Mount Mercy University (Iowa) in Des Moines at 6 p.m. The early-season schedule has plenty of obstacles with six of the team’s first seven games coming against teams that made last season’s national tournament.

Bulldog women's basketball opens season ranked No. 5 nationally

29 OCT 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – For the 27th-straight national poll, Concordia women’s basketball finds itself ranked among the top 25 teams in NAIA Division II. The Bulldogs checked in at No. 5 in the 2013-14 coaches’ preseason poll, released on Tuesday afternoon by the NAIA.

Head coach Drew Olson’s program is no stranger to lofty national rankings having appeared in the top 10 of each of the last 26 polls. Concordia held the No. 1 ranking in the first four coaches’ polls of the 2012-13 season before ultimately finishing at No. 9. Last season’s run at the top of the rankings marked the Bulldogs’ first appearance at No. 1 since the 2002-03 season when Concordia reigned first for the final nine polls entering the national tournament.

The program’s highest final ranking under Olson came following the 2011-12 GPAC championship campaign when Concordia was placed at No. 3. The Bulldogs reached the national semifinals in Sioux City, Iowa, that March.

Led by senior Kristen Conahan, Concordia will face significant challenges early this season with games against No. 17 Grand View University (Nov. 2), No. 23 College of Saint Mary (Nov. 5), No. 10 University of Jamestown (Nov. 8), No. 3 Morningside (Nov. 16) and No. 12 Briar Cliff (Nov. 23) all on the docket for November.

Concordia is scheduled to play a total of 10 games against teams ranked in the preseason poll. Bethel University (Tenn.), Concordia’s opponent on Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas, garnered a No. 16 ranking the NAIA Division I preseason rankings.

Fifth-ranked Bulldogs show off depth in season-opening win

1 NOV 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa – A staple of past national tournament teams for head coach Drew Olson, a deep roster will again be an important ally. That became evident on Friday as 11 different players registered in the scoring column to help the fifth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team pull away late for a 79-65 season-opening win over Mount Mercy University (Iowa). The game was the first of two that the Bulldogs will play this weekend at the Grand View Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I was really happy with our second half,” Concordia head coach Drew Olson said. “We made some great adjustments and kept our composure. With the new rules (increased emphasis on calling touch fouls to enhance freedom of movement), it’s going to be ugly at times. It changes our style of play. It’s a totally new game so I’m really proud of how they stepped up.”

Concordia used big runs at the beginning of both halves to deter the upset bid of a hot first-half shooting effort from the Mustangs. Trailing by a single point entering the final 20 minutes, junior guard Bailey Morris (13 points and five assists) and company stepped up on the defensive end to rebuild a double-digit lead.

Seemingly every time the Bulldogs threatened to run away, Mount Mercy roared back to stay within striking distance. On the heels of a 6-0 Mustang run that cut Concordia’s lead to 52-48, a pair of freshmen came up big. Forward Becky Mueller drilled a 3-pointer in the corner prior to a triple from Shelby Quinn that made it 58-50.

It continued to rain 3s as senior forward Britney Birtell drained a couple of 3-pointers midway through the second half. The second one pushed the advantage up to 12 at 67-55. Birtell also had two blocks in a great effort off the bench.

“I’m proud of our bench,” Olson said. “Britney knocked down a couple big shots and made some blocks on the other end. Taylor Wissing made some plays and our freshmen made some shots. They really stretched the lead for us.”

Junior Jericca Pearson proved tough to handle on the inside as she went for a team high 15 points and game high 13 rebounds. Despite foul trouble that limited her to 13 minutes, junior guard Tracy Peitz contributed 12 points.

The Bulldogs scored the game’s first eight points and led 15-2 following junior Ashley Kuntz’s three-point play coming after rebounding her own miss. The lead grew as large as 17 points as Olson’s squad used its signature full-court pressure defense to wreak havoc and force Mount Mercy into 26 total turnovers.

But the Mustangs were not ready to give in. They went on a 31-13 run and took a 40-39 halftime lead by burying 4 of 7 shots from deep in the first half.

Star senior guard Kristen Conahan sat out Friday due to injury. She is expected to return to the lineup soon. With Conahan out, Olson used a starting lineup of guards Morris, Kelsey Hizer and Peitz and forwards Mueller and Pearson.

Concordia is now 6-2 in season openers under the direction of Olson.

The Bulldogs will remain in Des Moines on Saturday to take on No. 17 Grand View University at 6 p.m. The two teams last met on March 10, 2012, in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national tournament. Concordia won 80-68. The Vikings, who went 22-7 in 2012-13, opened their season on Friday night against Avila University (Mo.).

Morris leads Concordia back from 15-point deficit at No. 17 Grand View

2 NOV 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa – There are few situations that will faze seasoned veterans like Concordia star guards Bailey Morris and Kristen Conahan. Facing a 15-point hole on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent, the Bulldogs stormed back for an 87-82 victory over No. 17 Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday evening. That give the Bulldogs a perfect 2-0 season-opening weekend at the Grand View Classic.

“I called timeout when we were down 15 and got after them pretty good,” head coach Drew Olson said. “I said we needed to cut it to eight by halftime and we did that. Then we came out of the gates and exploded.

“Grand View is a really good basketball team. Our kids are tough. They’ve been in situations like that before. They showed a lot of character again tonight.”

Morris, named the Grand View Classic MVP, got four of her game high 23 points in a 22-second stretch in the final three minutes to tie the game at 76. With the 5-foot-4 native of Roseland, Neb., leading the charge and directing the offense, the Bulldogs were not going to be denied on this night.

“In the first two games she’s been the definition of a bulldog,” Olson said. “She’s relentless. She’s fearless. She really led our team.”

Concordia did not take the lead for good until freshman Becky Mueller stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer to break the 76-all tie. Appropriately, Morris assisted on the Mueller trey that highlighted the Bulldogs’ 15-6 run to close the game.

Morris also got a hand from her running mate, Conahan, who returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday’s win over Mount Mercy due to injury. Despite being somewhat limited in her movements, the Omaha native poured in 21 points and made 5 of 11 attempts from downtown while playing a team high 33 minutes.

Conahan was also part of a defensive effort that fueled the comeback. The Bulldogs got on a roll when they tightened the screws on their halfcourt defense and took advantage of the Vikings’ 26 turnovers.

“Our defense always dictates what we do,” Olson said. “We kind of figured out what we needed to do in the halfcourt to take away what they do well. We played much smarter in the second half.”

Grand View (1-1) led by 15 at the 5:51 mark of the first half when Pee Wee Porter’s layup made it 34-19. Concordia chipped away at the deficit and tied the game at 49 on a Mueller layup with 16:33 left in the game. The Vikings would go on one more run before the Bulldogs made their game-winning push.

Junior Jericca Pearson joined Morris on the Grand View Classic all-tournament team. Pearson backed up her 15-point, 13-rebound effort on Friday night with 14 points and four boards on Saturday. Mueller and Tracy Peitz also reached double figures in scoring with 14 and 11 points, respectively. In addition, Peitz contributed seven steals, five rebounds and four assists.

Morris finished with totals of 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists on the weekend.

The Bulldogs face another big early season test on Tuesday when they take their act on the road against No. 23 College of Saint Mary. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from Omaha, Neb. Last season Concordia defeated the then No. 23 Flames 81-51 inside Walz Arena.

Conahan blisters the nets to lead win in hometown Omaha

5 NOV 2013

OMAHA, Neb. – Poor weather conditions may have slowed the arrival of the officials, but the delay of more than 20 minutes did not stop the fifth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team. The Bulldogs picked up a second-straight road win over a top 25 opponent, escaping with a 96-89 win over No. 23 College of Saint Mary on Tuesday night in Omaha. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad improved to 3-0 on the young season.

“There were a lot of moments where we played really well,” Olson said. “I was happy with how we continued to compete on the road in a close game against a top 25 team. Down the stretch we had to buckle down and get a stop, get a bucket and we were able to do that.

“We’re still learning and growing as a team.”

Playing close to home, junior guard Kristen Conahan (Millard North) and freshman forward Becky Mueller (Omaha Concordia) lit up the nets early on, combining to make four of their first five 3-point attempts. Their outside sniping, along with a big night from junior Tracy Peitz (career high 22 points) allowed Concordia to stave off the Flames’ late rally.

Conahan buried 4 of 9 shots from beyond the arc on Tuesday, making her 9-for-20 on the season. Despite battling an injury that kept her out of the season opener, Conahan has 41 points in her first two games.

Behind Conahan’s sharp shooting and Peitz’s career night, Concordia rolled up a lead as large as 22 points in the second half. The Bulldogs led 73-51 after a big spurt out of the gates for a seemingly comfortable advantage.

But the host Flames weren’t ready to pack it in. They leaned upon junior guard Tiffany Anzalone (22 points), who helped slice the lead all the way down to two at 87-85 in the final minutes.

Concordia tightened up defensively down the stretch and Peitz made several key free throws to allow Olson’s crew to hang on for the victory.

“Tracy’s going to be a stud,” Olson said. “She had a great matchup all game. We kept going to her in different ways and thankfully she really worked on her free throw shooting in the offseason. It paid off tonight.”

After trailing 10-9 early on, Concordia went on a 9-2 run that culminated with a 3-pointer from Mueller. That run was dwarfed by the Bulldogs’ 18-4 run soon after that made it 36-18 in the latter stages of the first half.

Junior Jericca Pearson came on strong late and finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Mueller got all 10 of her points in the first half while junior guard Bailey Morris added eight points and four assists.

Both teams shot 50 percent or better on the night. Concordia knocked down 52.1 percent (37 of 71) of its shots compared to 50.0 percent (29 of 58) shooting from the Flames. The Bulldogs made 15 of 17 free throws. Peitz was 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Wet road conditions slowed down traffic on Tuesday, causing the game’s officials to arrive late. The start of the game was delayed by roughly 20 minutes.

The Bulldogs continue a challenging nonconference slate with the 14th annual Cattle Classic hosted by Concordia University on Friday and Saturday. Concordia will take on No. 10 Jamestown (N.D.) at 6 p.m. on Friday prior to a 5 p.m. battle with Valley City State (N.D.) on Saturday. Both opponents reached the national tournament last season.

Frantic late rally comes up short in top 10 showdown

8 NOV 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – After busting out of the gates with a 15-4 lead, No. 5 Concordia relinquished the advantage before halftime and struggled defensively for the early part of the second half on the way to a 77-74 loss to No. 10 Jamestown (N.D.) on Friday night. Led by hot-shooting point guard Hannah Steele, the Jimmies spoiled day one of the 14th annual Cattle Classic for Drew Olson’s Bulldogs. The loss dropped Concordia to 3-1 on the season.

“It’s a tough loss,” Olson said. “I’m really proud of our kids to battle back. I’m told them the last seven minutes is how we need to play. We had a great focus defensively. We just kept grinding, one possession at a time.

“Jamestown’s a great team and it was a great basketball game.”

After trailing by as many as 16 points, the Bulldogs had a final possession with a chance to tie if they could knock down a trey. Junior guard Tracy Peitz opted for a drive to the bucket but couldn’t get the heavily guarded layup to drop with under five seconds remaining. Jamestown’s Jordan Bridges came down with the rebound and the Jimmies secured the road victory.

“It’s good to play teams like that early on and see what you’re made of,” Olson said. “Hopefully we can learn from it.”

Jamestown hung on for the win despite going scoreless over the final 4:58 of game time. Concordia ended the game on an 11-0 run with six of those points coming from junior Kelsey Hizer. Fellow junior Bailey Morris’ layup with 1:01 left proved to be the final points of the contest.

Concordia enjoyed early success with juniors Jericca Pearson and Peitz getting easy buckets down low. Peitz capped Concordia’s 15-4 game-opening spurt by blowing past her defender for a layup. Following a familiar script, Concordia smothered its opponent the length of the court defensively and translated turnovers into points to build the lead.

That’s when Steele went to work. She finished with a game high-tying 19 points fueled by 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. She nailed three triples in the first 10 minutes of play. Steele eventually fouled out with 2:25 remaining in the game.

Jamestown took its first lead at 34-32 late in the first half with a Chelsey Frydenlund baseline jumper. Concordia responded soon after, regaining the lead when Hizer hauled in an offensive rebound and laid the ball in the bucket. The Jimmies would go on a run to take a 42-39 lead to the half.

Pearson had a big night on the glass with 15 rebounds to go along with her 13 points. The native of Gibbon, Neb., already has two double-doubles this season and is averaging 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds.

Peitz led the team with 18 points. Morris added 17 and senior Kristen Conahan chipped in 10. Conahan made 2 of 4 attempts from 3-point range. One of her misses came with :37 left with Concordia down three.

Olson felt like a different outcome was possible had his team played a full 40 minutes of solid defense.

“Our focus just wasn’t there defensively (for the entire game),” Olson said. “It took us a little time to figure out what they were doing. Once we did buckle down and play really good in the half court as you saw, we took command of the game. It was just too late.”

The Bulldogs continue play at the Cattle Classic on Saturday when they host Valley City State University (N.D.) at 5 p.m. The Vikings, who received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll, topped Doane, 68-65, on Friday inside Walz Arena.

Bulldogs bounce back on day two of Cattle Classic

10 NOV 2013

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – One night after suffering their first defeat of the season, the Concordia women’s basketball bounced back with an 80-63 win over Valley City State (N.D.) in its second and final game of the Cattle Classic.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead off a Tracy Peitz jumper at the 18:30 mark. Valley City State kept things interesting throughout the first half, however, until the Bulldogs were able to close the first half with a 9-3 run. Concordia shot well in the first half, connecting on 13 of 27 field goals and shooting 48 percent. They led at the intermission, 40-27.

The Bulldogs were able to build off their momentum at the close of the half and carry it into the second half as Kristen Conahan got things started with a three pointer to spark a 10-4 run. A three point shot by freshman Becky Mueller gave the Bulldogs what would be their biggest lead of the night, 64-38. The stingy Bulldog defense caused 27 turnovers by Valley City State, which Concordia was able to capitalize on for 34 points.

“We played with a lot better focus today, especially on the defensive end,” Head coach Drew Olson said. “We weren’t completely focused all 40 minutes, but we’re getting better.”

The well-balanced Concordia attack saw five different Bulldogs in double digits. Senior guard Kristen Conahan led the way with 15 points. She was assisted by junior guard Tracy Peitz who dropped in 14 points while fellow junior Bailey Morris chipped in with 13 of her own. Junior forward Jericca Pearson and junior guard Kelsey Hizer added 12 and 11 points respectively.

Pearson, Concordia’s representative on the all-tournament team, explained the intensity it took to come out on top and the difference between their games in the first and second rounds of the Cattle Classic.

“Last night, we were really good offensively. We played a hard, competitive team and we lacked defense. Today we came out, we perfected our defense and got stops and that’s why we won the game today.”

With tough competition early in the season, the Bulldogs are hopeful that it will only mean good things for them down the road.

“Competition is good,” Pearson said. “It prepares us for the long run and it makes us better as a team. We play hard and we need to keep playing harder.”

With a young squad and several freshmen getting more and more minutes, Olson commented on the newcomers to the program.

“They are young,” Olson said. “We’re trying to grow them up quickly with the schedule that we have, but they’ve got a lot of talent. They’re figuring out their role on the team and the speed and physicality is different. They’re adjusting and hopefully they’re growing up.”

Pearson shared similar insight.

“A lot of the young ones are stepping up,” Pearson said. “They’re helping out, they’re scoring points. They’re learning from the older and experienced (players). They’re fitting into the role and fitting into the Bulldog style.”

Looking ahead, Concordia will prepare to host a strong Morningside team to open up conference play inside Walz Arena on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. The matchup will be another test for the Bulldogs as both teams were projected to tie for the conference championship.

“That’s a really tough team,” Olson said. “Hopefully we’ll be prepared for them. They’re ranked number three. I know they’re a good team. They’ve got some new guards but their post players are phenomenal.”

“We’ve just need to do what we have been doing,” Pearson said. “We need to work on our shooting, work on our defense and maybe prepare for their zone defense a little bit but other than that, just keep shooting and keep playing.”

CATTLE CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Jordan Bridges, Jamestown
Hannah Dostal, Doane
Kelsey Hunter, Valley City State
Jericca Pearson, Concordia
Hannah Steele, Jamestown

'Connie' goes crazy; Bulldogs knock off No. 3 Morningside in OT

16 NOV 2013

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – If Kristen Conahan was feeling any nerves when she stepped on the court to begin overtime, she sure didn’t show it.

“I started knocking down some shots, my confidence grew and I just kept shooting,” Conahan said.

“She’s phenomenal,” head coach Drew Olson said of Conahan, who battled through an injury in the early part of the season.

The 5-foot-5 senior from Omaha had ice water flowing though her veins, drilling three consecutive 3-pointers in the extended time to bury the visiting third-ranked Mustangs in a battle of top-five teams. She was spotting up from all over, leaving the Mustang defenders scrambling to put a hand in her face.

“A few times I was surprised,” Conahan said of her wide open looks. “I figured they’d be on me a little more.”

Conahan’s 11 points in the last five minutes helped the Bulldogs to their first conference win and their third victory over a top 25 ranked team this season, improving their record to 5-1, 1-0 GPAC.

“Our kids set the tone defensively and we knocked down some big shots,” head coach Drew Olson said.

The Bulldogs set the tone in the first half, gaining leads in the double digits numerous times throughout the first 20 minutes with intensity and physicality that was unmatched by the Mustangs. Concordia was able to find its stride, especially in transition thanks in large part to finds from junior guard Bailey Morris who led the team with five assists at the intermission. Junior Jericca Pearson continued her standout hustle play with seven boards in the first half. Concordia’s excellent free throw shooting (14-16) also contributed to their 43-35 lead at the break.

The Mustangs came out with a chip on their shoulder in the second half, however, and had the Bulldogs on their heels early on.

“I don’t know if it was mental fatigue or just loss of focus,” Olson said. “We turned the ball over like three or four straight times. But you can give a lot of credit to our kids and their composure.”

The Bulldogs were able to hang on to a single-digit lead through the second half, until the 5:22 mark when Morningside took their first lead of the night off two made free throws. Just 10 seconds later, another Mustang bucket had the Bulldogs down by three. Conahan answered shortly thereafter with a 3- point bucket to even things up at 66 apiece. Both teams traded baskets until the 1:48 mark after which they would remain deadlocked at 73.  

Things got interesting with 23 seconds left in the game when Concordia, taking the ball out underneath their own hoop, turned it over into the hands of Morningside who called for time out to set up their final play.

“We got in a little bit of a panic,” Olson said. “We were able to make up for a (turnover) on the defensive end and stay in the game.”

As the clock winded down from 16 seconds and Concordia fans on their feet, it took two missed shots, an offensive rebound by the Mustangs and a scramble for the ball that ended up in the hands of Pearson to give the Bulldog faithful a chance to breathe a sigh of relief as the final buzzer sounded to send the game into extra time.

Morningside scored on a layup to take a quick two point lead to open the overtime. However, the Bulldog defense clamped down, allowing just seven Mustang points while they scored 17 points of their own to close out the game and claiming the victory 90-82 as well as their fifth straight over Morningside.

Olson expressed his pleasure with the way his team handled the game, and complimented Morningside on their style of play.

“I thought they stuck to the game plan really well,” Olson said. “Morningside was a great team. They were able to do some nice things inside that hurt us. Morningside is a great defensive team. They’re big, long and athletic.”   

As the game progressed, it became evident that the strong junior class as well as Conahan would be seeing the most minutes, placing more dependability on the shoulders of the veterans. The increased amount of playing time didn’t bother Conahan.

“It’s fine. It’s something we can all handle,” Conahan said. “We know how we play and once we’re defensively sound, we play really well together.”

It was Conahan’s night, as her 28 points led all scorers for the game. Pearson and Junior Tracy Peitz recorded double-doubles apiece with 16 points and 11 rebounds for Pearson and 20 points and 11 boards for Peitz. Morris continued to drop dimes throughout the night, finishing with a game-high 13 assists.

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Nov. 23 when they hit the road to take on Briar Cliff University at 2 p.m.

“They’re a similar team to Morningside,” Conahan said. “We’ll be getting after it in practice this week. Our conference is tough. We just want to come out one game at a time, just work hard and come out strong.”

Conahan's hot shooting nets GPAC Player of Week award

19 NOV 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – First team All-American senior guard Kristen Conahan hit three after three down the stretch to propel the fifth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team to a 90-82 victory over No. 5 Morningside inside Walz Arena last week. The GPAC took notice and on Tuesday named Conahan the first conference player of the week of the 2013-14 season.

The Omaha native knocked down 8 of 14 3-point attempts on the way to a game high 28 points in the win over the Mustangs. Conahan found the bottom of the net on a pair of treys in the final five minutes of regulation and then racked up three more triples in the overtime session. The 5-foot-5 senior put up 25 combined points during the second half and overtime. The eight 3-point field goals are believed to be a Concordia single-game program record.

Conahan leads all NAIA Division II players with 22 3-point field goals. She is shooting 48.9 percent from beyond the arc on the season and has connected on all 10 free throw attempts. She leads Concordia with an average of 18.8 points per game – fifth best in the GPAC.

In her career, Conahan has piled up 1,468 points in 105 games. She is in hot pursuit of the school record of 1,800 career points scored by Sarah Harrison (2001-05). Conahan has reached double figures in 19-consecutive games dating back to the middle of last season.

Bulldogs trump yet another ranked opponent

23 NOV 2013

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – If the fifth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team has proven anything in the early part of the 2013-14 season, it’s that double-digit deficits on the road are no big deal. The Bulldogs stormed back from of an 11-point deficit to claim its fourth win over a ranked opponent, getting an 80-72 win at No. 12 Briar Cliff on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play.

Junior guard Bailey Morris packed her typical bundle of energy on the road and at one point went on a 7-0 run by herself. She scored in a variety ways in getting a steal and a layup, a deep 3-pointer and then a nifty baseline jumper as part of the Bulldogs’ 27-5 run to close the first half. Concordia led 37-26 at the break.

“The first half was great,” eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “When we calmed down and figured out how to play defense without fouling, we were able to do some great things and push the tempo. Bailey was a human highlight film. She really took over. It was fun to watch.”

Morris and company were aggressive on the offensive attack, getting to the line 43 times and converting on 33 free throws for 76.7 percent. Both teams were whistled for plenty of fouls in a closely-called game. Concordia played much of the second half with junior Kelsey Hizer and Tracy Peitz tagged with four fouls.

The Chargers made a run to start the second half and stayed close throughout. When things got tight, Concordia’s stars came through once again. Kristen Conahan drilled a big triple and Morris banked home a long two in back-to-back possessions late. The Bulldogs led 72-67 with 4:17 left.

Morris, who tied for a game high 18 points, also came up with a key steal in the final minutes with Briar Cliff running in transition. She was backed by fellow junior Jerrica Pearson. The Gibbon, Neb., native piled up 18 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. She made 12 of 14 free throw tries.

Concordia, which also came back to win after trailing by 15 at No. 17 Grand View, raised its record to 4-1 against top 25 teams. In addition, the Bulldogs hold wins over No. 3 Morningside, and No. 23 College of Saint Mary.

Still, Olson feels his team has room for growth.

“It was a good road win. Any win on the road in the GPAC is good,” Olson said. “But we have to learn how to adjust as calls are made. We have to keep our focus for a whole 40 minutes. We lost it for a while today. It was mostly mental fatigue.”

In addition to the 18 points from both Morris and Pearson, Conahan tallied 17 and Peitz recorded 14 before fouling out late in the game. Morris fell just short of a double-double as she added nine rebounds to go along with four assists and three steals.

Briar Cliff (6-2, 2-2 GPAC) got 17 points and five rebounds from Morgan Hansen. Charger standout Slone Masters was held to 11 points while making only 3 of 13 from the free throw line. As a team, Briar Cliff connected on just 13 of 32 attempts (40.6 percent) from the foul line.

Olson entered the day unsure if he would coach the team with his wife M'Leigh readying to give birth to a baby boy. Olson drove to Sioux City separate from the team. He was able to stay for the entirety of Saturday’s game.

The Bulldogs will return home on Tuesday to host Hastings (6-2, 1-2 GPAC) at 6 p.m. before breaking for the Thanksgiving holiday. Concordia will enter play with a seven-game winning streak against the Broncos, who are coming off a 76-49 loss on Saturday at No. 3 Morningside.

Slow-starting Bulldogs upset by visiting Hastings

26 NOV 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – A pair of clutch 3-pointers in the waning moments helped visiting Hastings hold off the hard-charging fifth-ranked Bulldog women’s basketball squad inside Walz Arena on Tuesday night. The Broncos (7-2, 2-2 GPAC) ended a seven-game losing streak in the series with Concordia by pulling a 94-89 upset. The loss dropped head coach Drew Olson’s squad to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in GPAC play.

“The hole was too deep. We were down 18 at one point (in the second half),” Olson said. “Our kids are fighters and they’ve got a lot of confidence to battle back.

“Hastings hit some big shots. We cut (the deficit) to two and I felt like, ‘hey, we’ve got them.’ They came up with some big shots.”

Those shots were delivered by Cami Bruckman and Jamie Van Kirk. Their treys on back-to-back possessions in the final three-and-a-half minutes pushed the Bronco lead back up to 85-77 after it had been trimmed to just two. Van Kirk then connected on a baseline jumper less than a minute later that helped stave off the Bulldog rally.

However, head coach Carrie Hofstetter’s Broncos had to hold their breath when Concordia junior Kelsey Hizer hoisted a 3-pointer that could have tied the game in the last five seconds. Laurel Zwiener (25 points and 14 rebounds) secured the Hizer miss and Hastings escaped with the victory.

Zwiener was part of a lethal trio of Broncos on Tuesday night as she combined with Bruckman and Van Kirk for 66 of the team’s 94 points. Zweiner had a huge night inside while Bruckman and Van Kirk bombed away from the outside, collectively making 5-of-7 shots from deep.

“Defensively we were looking to help down and give our posts some support on Zweiner,” Olson said. “Credit to them. A couple of their role players came in and knocked down some threes early to kind of rattle us and get us out of game plan. We knew Van Kirk and Bruckman were really good.”

Trailing 58-40 at the 16:39 mark of the second half, Concordia whittled the lead down to single digits with a Bailey Morris 3-point play with 12:10 to play. Morris would come through with three more points on a trey that got Concordia within two, 77-75, with 5:06 remaining, but the Bulldogs never would grab the lead as Hastings did just enough to stay in front.

Morris finished with 23 points to tie senior Kristen Conahan for the team lead. Conahan entered the night needing 15 points to reach 1,500 for her career. Now at 1,508 points, the Omaha native is the eighth player in program history to eclipse 1,500.

Unfortunately, Conahan and the Bulldogs were doomed by another slow start. Concordia has faced a double-digit deficit in four games already this season. It has rallied to win in two of those instances, but fell short on Tuesday.

“We were not a good basketball team to start the game,” Olson said. “I’m not sure where our focus was at. We’ve been starting slow. We’ve been starting that way where we get down 11 and then it’s like, ‘oh, now let’s play.’ It finally did come back to haunt us tonight.”

Concordia junior guard Kelsey Hizer reached a career high with 16 points. She went 4-for-5 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free throw line.

Hastings outshot Concordia 52.8 percent compared to 46.7 percent.

The Bulldogs are off the remainder of the week for the Thanksgiving holiday. They will return to action on at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4 when they take on Doane (3-6, 0-4 GPAC) in Crete, Neb. Concordia has won four straight against the Tigers, who fell, 64-62, at Midland on Tuesday night.

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

4 DEC 2013

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.

Game notes: No. 7 Bulldogs host Dordt on Saturday

5 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s Bulldogs begin a stretch of five-straight home games when they host Dordt College (6-3, 2-2 GPAC) at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Seventh-ranked Concordia (7-2, 3-1 GPAC) is 2-2 at home this season and 32-6 at Walz Arena since the start of the 2011-12 season.

The game will be streamed live and free online via theConcordia Sports Network. Concordia head volleyball coach Scott Mattera will call the action.

Home teams hold serve
The home teams have enjoyed plenty of success in the Concordia-Dordt series (see last 10 meetings below). Since the formation of the GPAC in 2000, the Bulldogs have prevailed in eight of the nine times the Defenders have traveled to Seward. That streak includes two Concordia victories last season. Olson’s squad avenged its upset loss at Dordt on Jan. 5, 2013, by rolling to wins in two later meetings inside Walz Arena. The final one came on Feb. 20 in the GPAC quarterfinals when Jericca Pearson came off the bench to top the Bulldogs with 18 points. Overall, Concordia is 13-5 against Dordt since 2000.

Last 10 meetings:
2/20/13 – Concordia 75-63 (Seward)
2/9/13 – Concordia 87-64 (Seward)
1/5/13 – Dordt 96-86 OT (Sioux Center)
2/11/12 – Concordia 71-64 (Sioux Center)
1/7/12 – Concordia 65-54 (Seward)
1/8/11 – Dordt 71-61 (Seward)
1/9/10 – Dordt 59-46 (Sioux Center)
2/14/09 – Concordia 94-68 (Seward)
2/16/08 – Dordt 80-72 (Sioux Center)
1/13/07 – Concordia 62-49 (Seward)

Last time out
Concordia shook off an upset loss to Hastings last week and picked up an 82-75 victory at Doane on Wednesday. The Bulldogs used their full-court pressure to force 27 Tiger turnovers and build a lead as large as 21 points in the second half. With sophomore guard Shelbi Bittinger leading the way, Doane nearly came all the way as it got within two points in the final two minutes. The Bulldogs scored the next four points and regained control of the game. Junior Tracy Peitz had another big day with 18 points and seven steals. Senior Kristen Conahan added 13 points and junior Bailey Morris chipped in 12 points and four assists. Concordia has now won each of the last five meetings with Doane.

Bulldogs a fixture among nation’s top 10
While Concordia fell two spots in this week’s NAIA Division II coaches’ top 25 poll, its placement at No. 7 extended its streak to 27-consecutive top-10 rankings. Last season the Bulldogs held the No. 1 rating for the campaign’s first four polls before settling in at No. 9 to close 2012-13. Concordia has lived inside the top 10 since moving up to No. 9 on Nov. 28, 2011. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, the Bulldogs have been ranked among the nation’s top 10 teams in 80 polls, including 13 No. 1 ratings.

Connie extends double-figure scoring streak
Senior guard Kristen Conahan, a 2012-13 NAIA First Team All-American, scored 13 points on Wednesday to extend her consecutive games streak of double figure point totals to 22. In 108 career games, the Omaha native has tallied 10 or more points in 85 times. She is up to 1,521 career points (Sarah Harrison owns the school record with 1,800).

  • National ranks: Among all NAIA Division II players, ‘Connie’ leads the nation in free throw percentage (97.1), ranks 15th in 3-point field goals per game (3.0), 30th in points per game (18.4) and 48th in 3-point field goal percentage (40.0).
  • Almost perfect: Conahan is 33-for-34 this season from the free throw line. She misfired on her second attempt from the charity stripe on Wednesday to end a string of 31-straight makes.

Morris sits 92 points away from 1,000
After scoring 12 points at Doane on Wednesday, junior guard Bailey Morris needs 92 to reach 1,000 for her career. Morris, a native of Roseland, Neb., would become the 22nd member of the program’s 1,000-point club. In her sights is assistant coach Amy Harms, who racked up 1,013 points from 1999-2003. Morris is averaging a career high 15.0 points per game this season.

Where the Bulldogs rank in national statistical categories
Concordia ranks in the top 50 among NAIA Division II teams in the following categories:

  • No. 4 in steals per game (14.2)
  • No. 6 in free throw percentage (77.5)
  • No. 7 in total steals (128)
  • No. 8 in turnover margin (plus-7.1)
  • No. 13 in scoring offense (84.1)
  • No. 30 in assist/turnover ratio (0.91)
  • No. 31 in total scoring offense (757)
  • No. 34 in field goal percentage (.425)
  • No. 36 in scoring margin (plus-6.4)
  • No. 41 in assists per game (14.2)
  • No. 45 in 3-point field goals per game (5.89)
  • No. 49 in total assists (128)
  • No. 50 in total 3-point field goals (53)

Laboda returns to action
Senior forward Lori Laboda, who missed the team’s first eight games due to injury, returned to the court in Wednesday’s win. She knocked down a couple of baseline jumpers on the way to scoring four points. She also grabbed eight rebounds in 12 minutes. The 5-foot-11 native of Parker, Colo., led the team in rebounding in each of the past two seasons.

Notable Career Highs

Britney Birtell
Points: 17 (vs. Tabor, 11-5-11)
Rebounds: 10 (vs. McPherson, 11-2-12
Steals: 4 (vs. Hastings, 2-14-12)
Blocks: 2 (five times) 

Kristen Conahan
Points: 31 (at Midland, 11-27-12)
Rebounds: 8 (vs. College of the Ozarks, 3-12-12)
Assists: 9 (vs. Johnson & Wales (Colo.), 12-30-11)
Steals: 8 (vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 12-8-12 / vs. Cumberlands (Ky.) 12-20-12)
3-point field goals: 8 (vs. Morningside, 11-16-13)

Kelsey Hizer
Points: 16 (vs. Hastings, 11-26-13)
Rebounds: 9 (vs. York, 10-31-11)
Assists: 5 (three times)
Steals: 5 (vs. Cardinal Stritch, 3-7-13)

Ashley Kuntz
Points: 17 (vs. Concordia-Chicago, 1-25-13)
Rebounds: 6 (vs. Nebraska Wesleyan, 1-29-13 / vs. York 11-10-12) 

Lori Laboda
Points: 23 (vs. Briar Cliff, 12-7-11)
Rebounds: 13 (three times – all during the 2011-12 season)
Blocks: 4 (vs. Hastings, 1-8-13 / vs. Bethel (Kan.), 11-16-10)
Steals: 6 (vs. Nebraska Wesleyan, 11-22-11)

Jenna Lehmann
Points: 13 (vs. McPherson, 11-2-12 / vs. York, 11-10-12)
Rebounds: 7 (vs. York, 11-10-12)
Blocks: 3 (at Briar Cliff, 12-5-12) 

Bailey Morris
Points: 28 (vs. Northwestern, 2-23-13)
Rebounds: 9 (at Dakota Wesleyan, 1-20-13)
Assists: 13 (vs. Morningside, 11-16-13)
Steals: 9 (vs. Johnson & Wales (Colo.), 11-9-12)
3-point field goals: 6 (vs. Morningside, 1-12-13) 

Becky Mueller
Points: 14 (at Grand View, 11-2-13)
Rebounds: 8 (vs. Valley City State, 11-9-13)
Blocks: 2 (at College of Saint Mary, 11-5-13)

Jericca Pearson
Points: 18 (four times – most recently at Briar Cliff, 11-23-13)
Rebounds: 15 (vs. Jamestown, 11-8-13)
Blocks: 3 (five times)
Steals: 4 (vs. Cardinal Stritch, 3-9-12) 

Tracy Peitz
Points: 22 (at College of Saint Mary, 11-5-13)
Rebounds: 11 (vs. Morningside, 11-16-13)
Assists: 5 (vs. Concordia-Wisconsin, 1-27-12)
Steals: 7 (at Grand View, 11-2-13)
Blocks: 2 (at Doane, 1-23-13)

Scouting Dordt
Dordt enters play with records of 6-3 overall and 2-2 in GPAC action. Seventh-year head coach Craig Stiemsma’s (93-96, .492) squad is coming off a 100-92 overtime loss to No. 15 Briar Cliff in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Wednesday. The Defenders own conference victories over Doane (80-55) and Mount Marty (68-59). They have fallen to Midland (70-51) and Briar Cliff in conference action. Their most impressive victory, in terms of national rankings, is their 70-49 triumph over then No. 17 Grand View on Nov. 5.

Dordt has three players averaging in double figures: senior forward Elise Maresh (16.3 ppg), senior forward Kara Van Dyke (13.9 ppg) and senior forward Jamie Kok (11.3 ppg). Van Dyke, who is the team’s leading rebounder at 7.8 boards per contest, was a first team all-conference selection last season. She is the catalyst for a team that ranks fifth nationally in free throw percentage (77.8) and 26th in field goal percentage defense (.365).

Mueller goes for career high as Bulldogs pummel Dordt

7 DEC 2013

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – Energy and second efforts were certainly not for a loss on Saturday as the women’s basketball squad stormed its way to an impressive 89-66 rout of the visiting Dordt Defenders (6-4, 2-3 GPAC). Concordia improved to 8-2, 4-1 GPAC.

Concordia made a strong statement with its big win over a quality opponent in Dordt. Using its up tempo attack, the Bulldogs had the Defenders on their heels from the opening tip.

“Our team really came out ready to play defensively,” head Coach Drew Olson said. “We wanted to play fast, and not just defensively.”  

Versatile freshman Becky Mueller started off what would be a big night for her with a three-point bucket to open the game, giving the Bulldogs an early 3-0 lead. The Elkhorn, Neb., native finished with a career best 20 points.

“I just wanted to go out and play really hard and run more,” Mueller said. “That just gave me a lot more opportunities in transition. Everything was going.”

Mueller’s poise and high comfort level throughout the game were evident, something she attributes to her increased familiarity with the team and the Concordia system.  

“I’m getting more used to playing,” Mueller said. “It’s a faster paced game playing with these girls and I’m starting to get more comfortable.”

After exchanging baskets through six minutes of play, the seventh-rated Bulldogs stepped on the gas to blow the game wide open with a 21-8 run that was capped off by a Kristen Conahan three-pointer, putting the score at 28-14 in favor of Concordia. The Bulldogs stayed hot through the rest of the half, shooting 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point land, pushing their lead to 49-26 as they headed into the locker room to end the first half.

The second half was much of the same for the Bulldogs, who continued to dominate, particularly on the offensive glass. Their hustle and second efforts provided numerous opportunities to keep the ball at their end of the court, and ultimately helped to account for 26 second chance points. Dordt, in comparison, managed just nine.

Concordia’s defensive intensity caused 26 Dordt turnovers, off which they scored 32 points. The Bulldog’s presence in the paint was also too much for the Defenders to handle, as they outscored Dordt 44-22 in the lane. The Bulldogs dominated nearly every aspect of the game, topping the Defenders in every major offensive and defensive category.

Mueller commented on the focused energy and effort that the Bulldogs displayed.

“We worked a lot on practice just executing our plays, working really hard on defense as a team,” Mueller said. “We really just did well together today as a team. We worked hard and we did everything coach told us to do.”

Juniors Tracy Peitz and Bailey Morris added 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Conahan pitched in with 12. Junior Jerrica Pearson snatched 8 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end of the court and senior Lori Laboda contributed with seven total rebounds of her own.

The Bulldogs will prepare for a busy week of competition when they take on Nebraska Wesleyan (1-6, 0-4 GPAC) on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. to continue a five-game home stand.

Seventh-ranked Bulldogs knock down 15 treys in runaway win over Nebraska Wesleyan

11 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – All-American guard Kristen Conahan reached another career milestone on Wednesday night as seventh-ranked Concordia marched to a 94-65 victory over rival Nebraska Wesleyan. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad won for the third-straight time overall and for the 13th-consecutive time in the series against the Prairie Wolves. Concordia is 9-2 overall and 5-1 in GPAC play.

The Bulldogs blitzed Nebraska Wesleyan out of the gates and led 18-3 just a few minutes after the game’s opening tip. Included in that run was a Conahan triple that marked the 300th 3-point field goal of her career. She went off for three more treys in the first 20 minutes as part of a dominant first half.

Olson walked away wanting more despite the team’s impressive 48.4 percent shooting from 3-point territory.

“We played OK. Nebraska Wesleyan did a good job of continuing to fight,” Olson said. “They cut (our lead) to eight in the second half, but our bench was the key tonight. They played great and they played hard. They got defensive stops.

“But overall it definitely was not one of our best performances. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to take care of the ball.”

Conahan piled up 17 points in the first half and 21 for the game. The Omaha native, now with 1,554 career points, busted up the Wesleyan zone to the tune of 6-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. That led the way for a 15-for-31 effort from long range as a team.

“That’s just who we are. If you’re open shoot it,” Olson said. “If you miss a few don’t worry about it. We always say that if you’re a 50 percent shooter and you miss your first three, you’re going to make the next three.”

Connie’s running mate Bailey Morris took over after a Concordia lull to begin the second half. Morris scored 10-straight points in a two-minute span and then rifled a bounce pass to Taylor Wissing for a layup in transition to make it a 12-0 Bulldog run.

For good measure, Morris added a heat-check 3-pointer from the right wing and then a darting layup soon after to make it 71-48 near the 11-minute mark. The rout continued from there as the Bulldogs led by as many as 31 points.

“We just weren’t very happy with how we were playing the first half defensively,” Morris said. “That was one thing we tried to emphasize so when we went on that run, that was all because of our defense. I thought the group that was in there did a really good job of getting stops and we were able to run the floor. That’s our game.”

The star-studded backcourt duo of Conahan and Morris combined for 41 points. Morris, a native of Roseland, Neb., went for 20 points, six assists and four steals while shooting 4-for-7 from deep. Junior Tracy Peitz added 10 points as the third and final teammate in double figures.

Seven different Bulldogs made at least one 3-point field goal as Concordia’s 15 treys marked a season high and were the most for the program since hitting 15 in a 121-72 win over Johnson & Wales (Colo.) on Nov. 9, 2012.

Concordia continued its havoc-wreaking ways as it forced 34 turnovers and owned a 39-18 advantage in points off turnovers. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 103-28 in that category over the past three games.

Nebraska Wesleyan was topped by the game high 22 points from Felicia TeKolste.

The Bulldogs turn around quickly with another game on Thursday when they host York (4-5) at 7 p.m. Concordia will return to conference play on Saturday as Mount Marty (4-6, 0-5 GPAC) visits Seward for a 2 p.m. tip off. Olson’s squad went a combined 4-0 against York and Mount Marty last season.

Morris and the 'Dogs' overmatch neighbors to the west

12 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Star junior guard Bailey Morris carried over her second-half scoring splurge from Wednesday in powering a 95-55 blowout win over visiting York College on Thursday night. Morris exploded for 20-first half points to put the Panthers (4-6) away quickly inside Walz Arena. Seventh-ranked Concordia raised its record to 10-2 overall.

According to eighth-year head coach Drew Olson, Thursday’s win came attached with better play than in the 29-point triumph a day earlier.

“York’s got a couple injuries that have kind of changed their team around, but I’m happy with the way that we played,” Olson said. “We had a lot better focus than we did last night. We only had 14 turnovers.”

Morris, a 5-foot-4 spark plug from Roseland, Neb., ran circles around the York defense. She piled up a season high 26 points with 17 of them coming over the final 6:45 of the first half. Showing off her versatility, Morris scored in just about every possible manner, including a deep 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that made the score 53-30 in the Bulldogs’ favor.

“She’s been something special the last two days,” Olson said. “She always is, but there were extra highlights for her (Thursday). Some of the things she’s doing – no one else can. She had a great game.”

Morris, second in the GPAC in assists entering play, also dished out a pair of dimes during Concordia’s 27-14 spurt at the end of the half. After drilling a 3-pointer on the previous possession, Morris looked inside and found junior Ashley Kuntz for a layup that made it 48-26 late in the half.

Morris and Kuntz (eight points and five rebounds) were the leaders in reserve for a bench that racked up 56 points to York’s 26.

“Coming off the bench we try to keep up the defensive intensity because that’s been our focus lately,” Kuntz said. “We want to get stops and the offense will come. We try to keep our gaps and keep talking and keep the energy up so when the next wave comes in they can keep it up as well.”

A night after filling up the nets with 15 treys in the win over Nebraska Wesleyan, the Bulldogs added nine more on Thursday. Six of those splashed through in the first half. Morris, who went 5-for-8 from downtown to frustrate the York zone, is 9-for-15 from behind the 3-point line over the past two games.

Concordia shot 45.8 percent from the field while holding the Panthers to a 39.3 percent clip. In addition, the Bulldogs forced 26 York turnovers and committed only 14 themselves.

Senior Kristen Conahan, who tallied 10 points on Thursday, ended the night with 1,564 career points. That total moves her into seventh place on the program’s all-time scoring chart as she passes Andrea Janssen (1,559 points), who played from 1986-90.

Morris and Conahan were two of five Bulldog double figure scorers. They were joined by junior Tracy Peitz (12), sophomore Jenna Lehmann (10) and freshman Becky Mueller (10). Morris topped the team with five assists while freshman Shelby Quinn grabbed six rebounds to lead Concordia.

All 15 Bulldogs who suited up saw action on Thursday. Ten of them registered in the scoring column with eight going for six or more points.

York, a member of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, was led by the 12 points of Marisa Maher. The Panthers are now 0-4 against GPAC teams.

The Bulldogs will play at home for the third time in four days when Mount Marty (4-6, 0-5 GPAC) visits Seward for a 2 p.m. tip off on Saturday. The Lancers fell, 79-51, on Wednesday to No. 13 Morningside in their most recent outing. Concordia has earned victories in each of the last four meetings with Mount Marty.

Bulldogs pile up 109 points to earn fifth-straight victory

14 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Seventh-ranked Concordia exploded out of the gates with a 17-0 lead on the way to a 109-86 rout of visiting Mount Marty (4-7, 0-6 GPAC) on Saturday. The Bulldogs earned their fifth-straight win and completed a three-games-in-four-days stretch in which they won by an average margin of 30.7 points. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad bumped its records to 11-2 overall and 6-1 in the GPAC.

“We wanted the pace to be really fast and it was,” Olson said. “We were really fast. We played great offensively. We had a really good rhythm and flow.”

Concordia enjoyed a double digit lead for 38:11 of game time in another dominant victory. Senior Kristen Conahan’s 3-pointer less than two minutes into the contest gave the Bulldogs a 12-0 lead and the Lancers would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Mount Marty did not register its first field goal until the 15:17 mark when Kieran O’Malley connected on a trey.

The feisty Bulldog full-court pressure was relentless once again. Tracy Peitz and company forced five 10-second violations in the first 11 minutes of the opening half and Peitz at one point stuffed three-straight inbounds passes. Concordia used that pressure to pester the Lancers to the tune of 22 turnovers and a 28-4 advantage in points off turnovers.

Conahan and junior guards Bailey Morris and Tracy Peitz were the catalysts in leading the Bulldogs to their first 100-point output of the season and first since a 110-65 home win over Midland last season. The Conahan-Morris duo went on a scoring rampage in the latter stages of the first half as Concordia led 62-40 at the break.

Both Conahan and Morris energized the crowd by knifing past defenders for nifty layups and then stepping back for treys when the defense sagged back. Conahan led all scorers with 22 points while Morris finished with 15. Both played 21 minutes.

Peitz totaled 13 points, a career high seven assists, four rebounds and four steals for yet another impressive line. Fellow junior Jericca Pearson was nearly unstoppable when she touched the ball inside. She posted 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

“When they’re open I like to get it to them,” Peitz said. “We have great teammates and we all trust each other. They can all put the ball in the hole just as well as anyone else.”

A 31-point second half lead allowed Olson to empty the bench.

“We’ve been able to do that the last few games and get some other kids some experience,” Olson said. “Some of them are feeling a little bit more confident and a little more comfortable playing our style against GPAC opponents.”

Of the 15 players who saw action, 14 chipped in with at least one field goal. Concordia junior Rachel Royuk put a bow on the victory with a 3-pointer from the left wing in the final minute to close out all scoring by the Bulldogs.

The Lancers got 21 points from Logan Wagner. O’Malley tallied 17 buoyed by five treys.

When Mount Marty was able to settle into its half-court offense it had a degree of success, knocking down 11 3-pointers while shooting 19-for-24 from the free throw line. They just could not keep up with a Bulldog offense that lit up the scoreboard by shooting 56.4 percent from the field.

“This game especially, we worked really well together,” Peitz said. “I think that will continue. We’ll have a lot of practices next week. Dakota Wesleyan is a good team and I’m excited for it.”

The Bulldogs will play once more before Christmas. They have nearly a week off before hosting Dakota Wesleyan (9-2, 4-1 GPAC) on Friday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. The Tigers, who are receiving votes in the national poll, defeated Doane 65-59 on Saturday evening.

Morris' big week leads to GPAC award

17 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Junior guard Bailey Morris has been recognized as the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, as announced by the league on Tuesday. It’s the second such honor in the career for Morris, who also received GPAC weekly honors on Jan. 14, 2013.

Morris exploded in the scoring department last week with point totals of 20, 26 and 15, respectively, in Concordia’s three blowout victories. On the week, she went 21-for-38 (.553) from the field, 10-for-18 (.556) from 3-point range and 9-for-13 (.692) from the free throw line.

Her performances on Dec. 11 and 12 marked the second time in her career that she’s recorded back-to-back 20-plus point games. The native of Roseland, Neb., has four 20-plus point games this season and 12 in her career.

One of the GPAC’s top passers, Morris also added another 12 assists last week and ranks second in the league with 4.8 assists per game. In addition, she chipped in a combined nine rebounds and six steals over last week’s action.

Morris enters Friday’s 6 p.m. game versus Dakota Wesleyan (9-2, 4-1 GPAC) needing 16 points to become the 26th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. She is averaging a career best 16.2 points per game – sixth most in the GPAC.

Morris and the Bulldogs are 11-2 overall and 6-1 in GPAC action.

This week’s GPAC nominees:
MaKayla Augustine, Morningside
Katie Johnson, Dakota Wesleyan
Laurel Zwiener, Hastings
Sammi Licari, Midland

Game notes: Friday battle features GPAC title contenders

19 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Seventh-ranked Concordia looks to extend its winning streak to six heading into Christmas as it welcomes Dakota Wesleyan (10-2, 4-1 GPAC) for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Friday. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s Bulldogs (11-2, 6-1 GPAC) are 6-2 at home this season and 36-6 (.857) inside Walz Arena over the past three seasons.

The game will be streamed live and free online via theConcordia Sports Network. Lucas Mohrman will handle the play-by-play duties.

Walz unforgiving to opponents
Included in Concordia’s 36-6 home record over the last three seasons is three victories over Friday’s opponent. Walz Arena has been particularly unkind to Dakota Wesleyan, which has lost seven straight dating back to an 82-72 overtime Tiger victory in Seward in the GPAC Tournament on Feb. 21, 2006. Since then, Dakota Wesleyan has been no closer than nine points in terms of final margin. Dakota Wesleyan’s only wins in the series over the past 10 meetings (see below) have all occurred in Mitchell, S.D. Since the formation of the GPAC in 2000, Concordia is 10-3 at home against Dakota Wesleyan.

Last 10 meetings:
1/20/13 – Dakota Wesleyan 72-61 (Mitchell)
12/8/12 – Concordia 78-58 (Seward)
2/22/12 – Concordia 93-63 (Seward)
1/21/12 – Concordia 68-59 (Seward)
12/10/11 – Concordia 62-49 (Mitchell)
1/16/11 – Dakota Wesleyan 103-97 OT (Mitchell)
12/4/10 – Concordia 95-63 (Seward)
2/6/10 – Concordia 78-56 (Seward)
12/5/09 – Dakota Wesleyan 53-46 (Mitchell)
2/18/09 – Concordia 82-67 (Mitchell)

Last week
Concordia overmatched all three of its opponents in winning by an average margin of 30.7 points. Inside the conference, the Bulldogs defeated both Nebraska Wesleyan and Mount Marty. Sandwiched between those two contests was a nonconference rout of York. Junior guard Bailey Morris put up 20, 26 and 15 points, respectively, in the three victories and was named the GPAC Player of the Week on Tuesday. She had plenty of help as five other Bulldogs posted at least one double-figure scoring effort on the week. Backcourt mate Kristen Conahan also put up 21 and 22-point efforts as part of a big offensive week. Concordia averaged nearly 100 points per game over the three wins.

Morris shoots for 1,000 points
Bailey Morris will aim to become the 26th player in program history to reach 1,000 points when she takes the court on Friday. Morris, now at 984 points in 81 career games, will reach the career milestone if she simply aligns her performance with her career high season average of 16.2 points per game. The native of Roseland, Neb., is already up to 211 points this season following 467 as a sophomore and 306 as a freshman.

Turnovers = points
Concordia forced a total of 82 turnovers last week and held a combined advantage of 97-28 in points off turnovers. Known as a ballhawking pressure team, the Bulldogs rank No. 3 in NAIA Division II in turnover margin (plus-8.39). On the season, Concordia has forced 314 turnovers while committing only 205 as part of a frenetic uptempo style. Those turnovers have helped Olson’s squad take 172 more shots than its opponents and outscore them by an average of 88.0 – 74.7.

Career years
Several Bulldogs are enjoying career seasons in one or more statistical categories. In terms of scoring, senior Kristen Conahan leads the way with a career best average of 17.7 points. Among Concordia’s standout class of juniors, Bailey Morris (16.2), Tracy Peitz (14.5), Jericca Pearson (12.5) and Kelsey Hizer (5.1) are all posting the best scoring averages of their careers. Peitz has made the biggest jump, going from 7.3 points last season to 14.5 this year. She also has the best numbers of her career in several other categories: rebounds (4.4), steals (3.5), assists (2.6), field goal percentage (56.0), 3-point percentage (41.2) and free throw percentage (68.9). Pearson has also improved significantly going from 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season to 12.5 points and 7.0 boards this season.

Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
Dakota Wesleyan, led by fourth-year head coach Jason Christensen, boasts a highly efficient offense that rates among the best in NAIA Division II in several categories. The Tigers rank fifth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.37), sixth in assists per game (20.1), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.367), 10th in 3-point field goals per game (8.3), 16th in field goal percentage (.443) and 17th in points per game (80.1). The offensive output comes from a variety of sources as six players average 9.0 points or more, led by the 12.8 per game from Amanda Hart. Celeste Beck is deadly from beyond the arc, where she is shooting 48.1 percent (26-for-54). The Tigers’ (10-2, 4-1 GPAC) only losses have come to then No. 6 Roosevelt University and to then No. 12 Briar Cliff (by a single point). Their most impressive win to date was an 85-74 triumph at No. 10 Midland.

Morris surpasses 1,000 career points as 'Dogs' stay hot

21 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Seventh-ranked Concordia may have played its best game of the season on Friday night as it walloped Dakota Wesleyan, 85-66, inside Walz Arena. Star junior guard Bailey Morris became the 22nd player in program history to reach 1,000 career points in allowing the Bulldogs to remain perfect (6-0) in the month of December. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad jumped to 12-2 overall and 7-1 in GPAC play.

“Dakota Wesleyan is a really good basketball team that I think has a great chance to make the national tournament,” Olson said. “And we really took them out of what they wanted to do. I’m real pleased with how we played. Our tempo was great and more importantly, our defense in the half court was the best we’ve had all year.”

The impressive defense effort hounded the Tigers into a shooting percentage of just 30.6 for the game. It got even better in the second half when Dakota Wesleyan hit on only 24.2 percent of its field goal attempts. Star guard Amanda Hart (team high 13 points) was harassed into a 5-for-14 night from the field.

As Morris said, her team did not want to begin another holiday break like the previous one when Concordia was upset at home just before Thanksgiving. The Bulldogs have not lost since.

“We didn’t want to go to Christmas break like that,” Morris said. “We really wanted to buckle down on our defense. They have a lot of difficult set plays that they run so a lot of our defense was just talking. We really focused on that. We had a whole week of practice and it was great practice.”

Concordia had the game well in hand by the time Morris poured in her 1,000th career point by draining a pair of free throws. At that point the Bulldogs led 67-42 with 9:57 remaining. They would extend the lead to as many as 30 points before cruising to a 19-point victory margin.

Morris joins an elite group of 1,000 point scorers in school history, including current teammate Kristen Conahan (1,602 points).

“It really means a lot. It’s a great group of talented players that have come through this program,” Morris said. “It shows (the quality of) the coaches I’ve had since I’ve been here and the players I’ve been able to play with. Without them I don’t score anything.”

On Friday night Morris was simply one of several outstanding performers.  Morris led the way with 17 points and was joined by Conahan (16), Jericca Pearson (15) and Tracy Peitz (10) in double figures.

Noteworthy was Concordia’s 44.4 (12-for-27) shooting from distance and the fact that 12 different players dished out at least one assist.

“Bailey is a phenomenal player and it’s really cool to have her score 1,000 points in her junior season,” Olson said.

“We were really sharing the ball well and playing unselfishly. The faster we play the better we are.”

Pearson, senior Lori Laboda and freshman Becky Mueller each grabbed seven boards as Concordia outrebounded Dakota Wesleyan 51-42. Freshman Karissa Segelke came off the bench to hand out four assists and tally five points.

The Bulldogs will now enjoy some time off for Christmas break. They will return to action on Dec. 30-31 at the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Concordia will face significant challenges in The Lone Star State as it takes on No. 10 Bethel University (Tenn.) of NAIA Division I and Evangel University (Mo.), also of NAIA Division I. Live webcasts of all games will be available via the Our Lady of the Lake athletics website.

Follow Bulldog women's basketball in San Antonio

27 DEC 2013

The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team arrived in San Antonio, Texas, the day after Christmas in preparation for its two nonconference games set to take place at the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s Bulldogs will take on Bethel University (Tenn.) on Monday (Dec. 30) and Evangel University (Mo.) on Tuesday (Dec. 31).

SCHEDULE

Monday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m. – Concordia vs. Bethel
--LIVE WEBCAST | LIVE STATS

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 1 p.m. – Concordia vs. Evangel
--LIVE WEBCAST | LIVE STATS

OPPONENTS

Bethel University
Location: McKenzie, Tenn.
Record: 8-4
National Ranking: 10th (NAIA Division I)
Head coach: Chris Nelson (8th year)
Conference: Southern States Athletic Conference
Leading Scorer: Tayla Foster – 18.7 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Kenyatta Drake – 9.0 rpg
Assists Leader: Jackliann Street – 3.9 apg
Team Scoring Offense: 84.8 ppg (8th in NAIA DI)
Team Scoring Defense: 67.1 ppg (49th in NAIA DI) 

Evangel University
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Record: 4-6
Head coach: Leon Neal (19th year)
Conference: Heart of America Athletic Conference
Leading Scorer: Allison Swanson – 13.1 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Swanson – 6.8 rpg
Assists Leader: Amanda Landolt – 3.0 apg
Team Scoring Offense: 73.0 ppg (40th in NAIA DI)
Team Scoring Defense: 74.8 (81st in NAIA DI) 

OUTLOOK
Concordia will test its mettle against two teams from the NAIA Division I level, including 10th-ranked Bethel. The Bulldogs last played a NAIA DI team on Dec. 20, 2012, when they defeated No. 16 University of Cumberlands, 59-53, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Concordia is looking to extend its six-game winning streak and remain undefeated in the month of December. Bethel comes into play with losses in two of its last three games, both against quality opponents. However, the Wildcats’ high-scoring offense led by star Tayla Foster will pose a significant challenge. Meanwhile, Evangel has lost three in a row but has shown improvement from its 7-18 campaign last season.

Bulldogs to take in NBA game: After facing Evangel on New Year’s Eve, Concordia will celebrate the holiday with a trip to the San Antonio Spurs game versus the Brooklyn Nets at the AT&T Center.

Bethel outlasts seventh-ranked Concordia in Lone Star shootout

30 DEC 2013

SAN ANTONIO – A matchup of high-scoring, high-ranking teams produced exactly the kind of game that one would have expected in a battle in San Antonio, Texas. NAIA Division I 10th-ranked Bethel University (Tenn.) showed off plenty of firepower in earning a 99-92 victory over the seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team, which fell to 12-3 overall.

Monday’s game was the first of two for the Bulldogs at the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic.

“We grinded,” eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “We changed some things defensively but we just couldn’t get the stops when we needed them. Bethel is an incredible team. They have great shooters, great penetrators. I was happy that we put ourselves in position to win even after getting down double digits.”

The Wildcats (9-4) got huge nights from their stars in Tayla Foster (33 points, 15 rebounds) and Katie VanDyke (24 points). The duo helped Bethel construct leads as large as 11 in the first half and 13 in the second half. But Concordia kept coming.

The Bulldogs twice pulled within three points in the final two minutes, doing so with a Bailey Morris jumper and then a Becky Mueller bucket. Concordia trailed 95-92 with :16 remaining but failed to score the rest of the way and watched the Wildcats make 4 of 6 free throws to put the game on ice.

The loss was the Bulldogs’ first of the season away from home and first in the month of December. While the defeat halted a six-game winning streak, Olson hopes the game will help his team come tournament time.

“We’re going to play teams like this again,” Olson said. “We have to be able to adjust and not allow so many open looks. We’ll probably get down 10 again this season and we’ll have to keep chipping away and eventually take the lead. Hopefully we learned something from that.”

Morris, who ended the night with 1,027 career points to pass current assistant coach Amy Harms on the program’s all-time chart, tied a season high with 26 points, including 16 in the first half. She scored in just about every way imaginable once again to keep the Bulldogs close.

Concordia took momentum into the locker room when senior guard Kristen Conahan Morris on a back door cut for a three-point play in the final seconds of the first half. The beautifully executed play sliced Concordia’s deficit to just three, 50-47.

The Wildcats found an answer for every Bulldog run as they rattled off 18-for-35 (.514) shooting from beyond the arc. VanDyke was particularly deadly as she drained 8 of 13 attempts from 3-point range. Bethel’s 50.7 percent shooting allowed it to overcome a 20-6 disadvantage in the turnover column.

Joining Morris in double figures for the Bulldogs were Conahan (16), Mueller (15), Kelsey Hizer (13) and Tracy Peitz (12). Hizer added eight rebounds and Conahan tossed out six dimes.

The Bulldogs will play in San Antonio again on New Year’s Eve as Evangel University (Mo.) serves as the opponent. Evangel (4-7) fell 76-59 to host Our Lady of the Lake on Monday in San Antonio. Tuesday’s game will tip off at 1 p.m. from Our Lady of the Lake University.

Ugly first half fails to stop Bulldogs from seventh win in eight tries

31 DEC 2013

SAN ANTONIO – Very little about Tuesday’s affair in San Antonio was pretty – other than the end result. Seventh-ranked Concordia shook off a sloppily-played first half to earn a 77-62 win over Evangel University (Mo.) on the second and final day of the Our Lady of the Lake University Halo Classic. The Bulldogs won for the seventh time in eight games to improve to 13-3 overall.

Following a spirited halftime discussion, the Bulldogs played with much more purpose and aggression in the second half.

“The real difference was that our kids played harder,” Olson said. “In the first half a lot of our main players had the mindset to play their game but not really attack. We were passive and weren’t being the aggressor. We panicked a little and we couldn’t find our shots.

“Second half – we decided to be the aggressor and we got going at a faster pace.”

It took more than 25 minutes of action before Concordia could gain control. The Bulldogs exploded a few minutes into the second half with a 12-1 run that provided an eight-point lead at the 13:37 mark. The advantage soon ballooned into double digits.

After being held to a combined eight points in the first half, star guards Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris elevated their play and the rest of the offense flowed much more like the one that came in averaging 88.1 points per game.

Concordia led by as many as 16 points late in the game. Following 12 turnovers and 33.3 percent first-half shooting, the Bulldogs gave the ball away eight times and improved to 50 percent shooting in the second half in which Morris put up 14 of her 16 points and Conahan tallied nine of 14 points on the afternoon.

Freshman Becky Mueller provided a reliable scoring option, going for 15 points along with six rebounds. Her team high seven first-half points were particularly crucial at a time when Concordia struggled mightily on the offensive end. Evangel took a 30-28 lead to the halftime break.

Olson cited role players in junior Ashley Kuntz (10 points in seven minutes of action) and freshman Devin Edwards (four points, one steal) as key components in the win.

“Becky played great and Ashley was a huge difference maker in the second half,” Olson said. “I also thought Devin played really well. It wasn’t something that would stand out statistically but she also made a difference.”

The Crusaders (4-8), a NAIA Division I team from the Heart of America Athletic Conference, shot a solid 47.8 percent from the field behind Allison Swanson (18 points, 6-for-10 from the field). However, Evangel was also plagued by turnovers, committing 24 of them.

In addition, junior Tracy Peitz recorded eight points and eight rebounds and senior Lori Laboda chipped in seven points and seven rebounds.

Junior Jericca Pearson did not play Tuesday after coming down with an injury in Monday’s 99-92 loss to No. 10 Bethel University (Tenn.).

Even during a 9-2 run midway through the first half, Concordia could not get out of its own way at times. The methodical spurt spanned almost three minutes and left the Bulldogs up 15-11 as both teams frequently traded giveaways.

The rest of the 2013-14 regular-season slate includes 10 road or neutral games and just four home contests. Only two more non-conference games remain with both coming up at the Concordia Invitational Tournament in Mequon, Wis., on Jan. 24-25.

The Bulldogs will return to conference play on Saturday when they travel to Sioux Center, Iowa, to take on Dordt (8-6, 2-5 GPAC) at 2 p.m. The two teams met on Dec. 7 in Seward where Concordia cruised to an 89-66 victory. The Defenders have lost four-straight GPAC contests.

No. 7 Concordia pulls away from Dordt for sixth-straight GPAC win

4 JAN 2014

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Concordia exercised its demons on Saturday afternoon by walking out of De Witt Gymnasium in Sioux Center, Iowa, with an 81-63 victory. The win gave the Bulldogs a measure of revenge against a Dordt program that handed Concordia its first loss last season when it sat atop the national poll.

Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad won for the sixth-straight time in conference play and improved to 14-3 overall and 8-1 in the GPAC. Concordia had won only once in its previous five trips to Sioux Center.

“We knew it was going to be a tough place to play and it was,” Olson said. “In the second half Dordt made a really good push in cutting our lead to seven. Our team battled and was able to get the stops we needed.”

Trailing 18-16 at the 9:35 mark, Concordia went on an 18-2 run to take control as well as a 44-29 halftime advantage. The Bulldogs never trailed after taking a 20-18 lead with 8:19 left in the half.

Junior guard Bailey Morris’ individual effort summed up the team’s performance. After being held scoreless for more than 15 minutes to begin the game, the sparkplug Morris exploded for 10 of her game high 23 points in the final 4:22 of the first half. She then added 10 points in the last five minutes of regulation.

As the Roseland, Neb., native turned up her level of play, so did the Bulldogs.

“I think you would find that being the case in a lot of our games,” Olson said. “When Bailey goes on runs it usually snowballs for our opponents. When she gets on a roll she can be impossible to stop.”

Still, Dordt did not go away and trailed just 62-55 with under four minutes to play. Concordia took timeout and quickly ballooned the lead back to double digits on the strength of an 11-0 spurt. Freshman Becky Mueller had two big buckets during the Defenders’ late push before Concordia regained its grip.

With junior Jericca Pearson sidelined for the second-straight game due to a knee injury and Lori Laboda going down midway through the second half, the Bulldogs needed contributions from their role players. Mueller, Lori Laboda and Karissa Segelke helped combat the injuries as well as the foul trouble endured by several key players, including Tracy Peitz.

Before leaving with an injury, Laboda piled up a season high 10 rebounds. Even without Pearson inside, the Bulldogs outmuscled Dordt on the boards to the tune of a 51-27 advantage. Concordia collected 17 offensive boards.

“That was a shock,” Olson said of the huge rebounding advantage. “We lost in turnover margin for probably the first time all season but the rebounding numbers showed how hard we played. We got them to miss and held them to one shot.”

In support of Morris, Kristen Conahan and Peitz added 14 points apiece. Peitz also tallied six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Kelsey Hizer chipped in seven points and Mueller finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

In place of Pearson, freshman guard Shelby Quinn made her first career start on Saturday.

Star guard Kayla Broekhuis led the charge for the Defenders. She poured in 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

The Bulldogs remain on the road to begin next week as they travel to face No. 10 Midland (9-8, 5-2 GPAC) on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. Concordia has won nine-consecutive meetings against the Warriors. Midland has not played since a 73-58 loss to No. 23 St. Ambrose (Iowa) on New Year’s Eve.

Peitz piles up career numbers in victory at Midland

8 JAN 2014

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia Bulldogs topped the Midland Warriors 82-74 to notch their seventh straight GPAC victory while continuing their domination of Midland with their 10th straight win over the warriors.   

Concordia (15-3, 9-1 GPAC), now 43-7 in their last 50 conference games, rode the 5-foot-10 frame of junior guard Tracy Peitz who had a monster night, finishing the night with a career high 26 points and 12 rebounds to go along with five steals and two assists.

“Tracy was just dominant,” head coach Drew Olson said.

Concordia came out guns a blazing, connecting on five of their first seven shots to take an early 13-4 lead. Despite not being able to score in transition, the Bulldogs got a lot of help from their bench who pitched in with 15 points. The Bulldogs struggled to control the boards, however, and conceded 20 rebounds to the warriors while grabbing just 14 themselves.

“In the first half we jumped on them early but Midland really outplayed us the next 15-16 minutes,” Olson said. “Even though we were up five at half, they were dominant on the boards and getting easy looks. In the second half I knew we were going to have to find ways to score. I'm really proud of that group that led us.”

After guard Bailey Morris left with an injury late in the second half, the Bulldogs looked for other means of scoring to gain momentum back in the second half. The teams traded baskets for the first five minutes of the half with neither team gaining an advantage.

Finally, after Peitz scored a layup to push the Bulldog lead to 49-43, sophomore guard Taylor Wissing blocked a Midland 3-point attempt at the other end which led to another Peitz layup and sparked an 8-3 Bulldog run to extend the lead to 57-46. The Bulldogs controlled the game from there, mounting a lead as large as 14 points with 3:30 left to play.

Injury struck the Bulldogs again, however, when senior All-American guard Kristen Conahan exited the game after a collision with a Midland player. Despite the loss of another star, the Bulldogs were able to hold their own and outgun the Warriors.

“It was still a six-seven point game when Connie went down,” Olson said. “I thought that group we had out there definitely outplayed Midland and helped us extend the lead. Obviously we have to keep building and keep developing our depth. We're going to continue to find ways to win.”

Junior forward Ashley Kuntz finished her big night with 16 points, while freshman forward Becky Mueller added 16 points of her own to go along with eight boards. Junior guard Kesey Hizer pitched in with 10 points.

“Our role players did a really nice job,” Olson said. “Kelsey (Hizer) had a great game overall and Ashley (Kuntz) and Becky (Mueller) were great inside, even against taller posts. It was a really, really good win.”

Concordia will travel to Orange City, Iowa, to take on undefeated and second-ranked Northwestern College (16-0, 8-0 GPAC) on Saturday in what has been tabbed the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

No. 7 Concordia at No. 2 Northwestern tabbed as NAIA Game of Week

9 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The NAIA national office has named Saturday's big game between No. 7 Concordia and No. 2 Northwestern as the "NAIA DII Women's Basketball Game of the Week." View game notes from the NAIA below and at this link.

Both teams enter the weekend tilt in Orange City, Iowa, on a hot streak. The Bulldogs (15-3, 9-1 GPAC) have won seven-consecutive GPAC games and are just one-game (in the loss column) behind the undefeated Red Raiders (16-0, 8-0 GPAC). Northwestern has won each of its 16 games by nine points or more.

Concordia may need to turn to its role players to fill the shoes of several key players. Junior forward Jericca Pearson left the team's Dec. 30 game with an injury and has not returned to the lineup. The injury bug struck again in Wednesday's win at Midland as backcourt stars Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris both exited the contest early.

Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson will count on junior Tracy Peitz to lead the team down the stretch. She had a huge night on Wednesday with career highs in points (26) and rebounds (12). She ranks first in the GPAC in steals (3.22 per game), second in field goal percentage (.562) and 13th in scoring (14.3).

Northwestern and head coach Chris Yaw graduated top player Kendra De Jong (two-time GPAC Player of the Year), but it hasn't seemed to matter. The Red Raiders have plenty of firepower with the likes of Alli Engebretson (18.9 ppg), Karen Hutson (17.9 ppg), Samantha Kleinsasser (16.3 ppg) and Mackenzie Small (12.4 ppg) all averaging more than a dozen points.

How they compare

Concordia   Northwestern
86.7 (7th) OFF PPG 93.7 (3rd)
74.2 (104th) DEF PPG 68.1 (57th)
.442 (17th) OFF FG% .473 (3rd)
.431 (117th) DEF FG% .369 (29th)
.314 (55th) 3PT FG% .359 (6th)
6.9 (25th) 3PT FG/GM 6.5 (35th)
.730 (20th) FT% .754 (7th)
+1.3 (53rd) REB +/- +12.4 (1st)
+7.4 (3rd) TO +/- +4.8 (15th)
+12.6 (20th) Scoring +/- +25.6 (3rd)
12.8 (7th) SPG 11.8 (11th)
1.6 (98th) BPG 2.1 (74th)
.996 (22nd) AST/TO 1.12 (9th)


Notes from the NAIA release

By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern

 *Published Jan. 8 by the NAIA (click HERE)

• The two top-rated teams from arguably the deepest conference in NAIA DII Women’s Basketball will face off Saturday, when No. 2 Northwestern (Iowa) hosts No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) at 2 p.m. CST in Orange City, Iowa. The clubs enter the week as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), which leads all conferences and independents with five teams ranked among the Top 25 nationally. 
• Prior to this weekend’s matchup, both teams will face off against another GPAC foe. Concordia will travel to Midland (Neb.) on Jan. 8, while Northwestern plays host to Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) that same evening. 
• Saturday’s contest is the first of two regular-season meetings between the Top 25 teams, with the second coming on Feb. 15 on Concordia’s home floor in Seward, Neb. 
• With 93 points and five first-place votes, Concordia was picked to win the 2013-14 GPAC Championship in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. Defending GPAC regular-season and tournament champion Morningside (Iowa) also compiled 93 points, but had just four first-place votes. Northwestern, with 84 points and two first-place votes, was picked to finish third. 
• Concordia’s last conference title came during the 2011-12 season, when the Bulldogs were both the regular-season and tournament champions. Northwestern’s last conference title came in 2010-11, when the Red Raiders were the regular-season and tournament champions. 
• Last season, both teams qualified for the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. It was the second-straight appearance for Concordia, and the Bulldogs 12th appearance all-time. The berth was the eighth-straight for Northwestern, and also the Red Raiders’ 12th all-time appearance. 
• Concordia has four wins against ranked opponents this season: against then-No. 17 Grand View (Iowa), 87-82, on Nov. 2; then-No. 23 College of Saint Mary (Neb.), 96-89, on Nov. 5; then-No. 3 Morningside, 90-82 (OT), on Nov. 16; and then-No. 12 Briar Cliff (Iowa), 80-72, on Nov. 23.  
• The Bulldogs’ three losses have all been by seven points-or-less and have come at the hands of then-No. 10 Jamestown (N.D.), Hastings (Neb.) and then-NAIA Division I No. 10 Bethel (Tenn.). All three teams are currently ranked in their respective polls. 
• Concordia features four individuals averaging double-digit points per game, led by Bailey Morris’ 17.2 points per game. Despite starting just seven games this season, Morris has played starter’s minutes, averaging 28.4 minutes per game—second only to two-time All-America selection Kristen Conahan (29.1 minutes per game). On the year, Morris has more 20-point performances (6) than single-digit outputs (2). 
• Conahan (17.0), Tracy Peitz (13.6) and Jericca Pearson (12.1) are the other three Bulldogs averaging double-digits this season. 
• As a team, Concordia is third in the NAIA in total scoring offense (1479), while also ranking among the top 10 nationally in turnover margin (3rd, 7.47), total steals (4th, 223), scoring offense per game (7th, 87.00) and steals per game (7th, 13.12).  
• Northwestern is 4-0 against ranked opponents this season, with wins against then-No. 10 Jamestown, 96-86, on Nov. 1; then-No. 12 Briar Cliff, 114-81, on Nov. 12; then-No. 3 Morningside, 102-82, on Nov. 26; and then-No. 10 Midland, 89-69, on Dec. 14.
• The Red Raiders feature four individuals who average double-digit points per game, led by Alli Engebretson’s 19.3 points per game. Engebretson has started all 15 games for Northwestern this season and has reached double-digit points in every contest. She recorded a career-high 24 points on Nov. 12 against Briar Cliff and matched that mark in games against Hastings on Nov. 16 and Grand View on Jan. 3. 
• Karen Hutson (18.4), Samantha Kleinsasser (15.8) and Mackenzie Small (11.9) are also averaging double-digits for the Red Raiders this season. 
• As a team, Northwestern leads the NAIA in total rebound margin (13.07), while ranking among the top 10 nationally in scoring margin (2nd, 26.67), scoring offense per game (3rd, 94.27), 3-point field goal percentage (4th, .369), field goal percentage (4th, .478), total rebound defense (6th, 33.20), total assists (6th, 301), defensive rebounds per game (8th, 31.00), total rebounds per game (8th,. 46.27), assist to turnover ratio (8th, 1.14) free throw percentage (9th, .751), total scoring offense (9th, 1414), total steals (10th, 183) and steals per game (10th, 12.20). 

New-look Bulldogs cut down by undefeated Northwestern

11 JAN 2014

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team unveiled a new-look starting lineup complete with three freshmen and two juniors in Saturday’s NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week. With the Bulldog backcourt tandem of Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris on the mend, No. 2 Northwestern (17-0, 9-0 GPAC) rolled up an 86-68 victory at the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa.

Concordia, now 15-4 overall and 9-2 in conference play, falls two losses behind the Red Raiders at the top of the GPAC standings.

“Northwestern is a great team,” Concordia eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “I felt that we did not come ready to play as a team. We knew we had some players who were not going to play and I don’t think we realized that we had to play together. Individually, we had players trying to do stuff they're not used to.”

Northwestern led virtually the entire way, taking control with an early double digit lead thanks to a 10-0 run. The Red Raiders drilled 10 treys, including seven in the first half. They also took advantage of a small Concordia lineup and enjoyed a 50-35 rebounding advantage. Northwestern led by as many as 35 points in the second half.

With Conahan and Morris sidelined on Saturday and Jerrica Pearson and Britney Birtell out for the remainder of the season, Olson turned to a lineup that featured Devin Edwards and Karissa Segelke, who both made their first career starts. The retooled rotation struggled to take care of the basketball, turning it over 20 times.

Those miscues were capitalized upon by the likes of sharpshooters Allie Engebretson (28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Mackenzie Small (19 points). They combined to go a white hot 9-for-11 from 3-point range. For the game Northwestern shot 46.9 percent overall and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

“They are great shooters,” Olson said. “They know how to get open. They shoot on balance and they create space. They are really good.”

Playing a career high 28 minutes, Edwards posted a career high 12 points. Fellow freshman Becky Mueller tied a team high with 12 points as freshmen combined for 33 points. Shelby Quinn contributed to that effort with half a dozen.

“I thought Devin came ready to play,” Olson said. “She played with great confidence. She took care of the ball and she hit shots.”

Coming off career highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday, junior Tracy Peitz had an off game (3-for-16 from the field). She managed 11 points and six rebounds.

Northwestern, one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in NAIA Division II, has won all 17 of its games by nine points or more.

Conahan and Morris both made the trip to cheer on their teammates. Their statuses for the remainder of the season are yet to be determined.

“I hope Bailey will be healthy (for next Saturday) but I don’t know yet,” Olson said. “We have to keep getting better as a team.

“Today was a great learning experience. Hopefully we’ll figure out how to play within ourselves.”

A mid-week bye comes at an opportune time for Olson’s squad, which will be off until next Saturday’s home contest against No. 23 Briar Cliff (11-8, 5-5 GPAC) at 2 p.m. It will be a rematch of the Nov. 23 game in Sioux City, Iowa, where the Bulldogs won 80-72 over the then 12th-ranked Chargers.

Game notes: No. 7 Concordia women's basketball welcomes Briar Cliff on Saturday

19 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team will end a stretch of 28-consecutive days without a home game when it takes the floor on Saturday against Briar Cliff (12-8, 5-5 GPAC). The second-place Bulldogs (15-4, 9-2 GPAC) continue the back half of the conference schedule against a Charger team that they defeated 80-72 in Sioux City, Iowa, on Nov. 23.

The game will be streamed live and free online via theConcordia Sports Network. Concordia head volleyball coach Scott Mattera will call the action.

Recent series history
Concordia and Briar Cliff are all square at five wins apiece over the last 10 meetings. The Bulldogs have won four of the last five while the Chargers have actually won three of the last four matchups in Seward. The road team has won four-consecutive meetings in the series. These two squads have already met this season with Concordia coming up with an 80-72 victory in Sioux City on Nov. 23. Jerrica Pearson and Bailey Morris both totaled 18 points and the Bulldogs piled up 33 points from the free throw line.

Last 10 meetings:
11/23/13 – Concordia 80-72 (Sioux City)
2/6/13 – Briar Cliff 89-80 (Seward)
12/5/12 – Concordia 72-65 (Sioux City)
2/8/12 – Concordia 102-96 (Sioux City)
12/7/11 – Concordia 89-87 OT (Seward)
2/9/11 – Briar Cliff 84-66 (Seward)
1/22/11 – Briar Cliff 72-67 (Sioux City)
1/23/10 – Briar Cliff 77-52 (Seward)
11/8/09 – Briar Cliff 97-67 (Sioux City)
1/3/09 – Concordia 77-67 (Sioux City)

Last time out
The Bulldogs found life on the road without their backcourt tandem of Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris especially difficult at second-ranked Northwestern. The Red Raiders wasted little time in building a double-digit advantage on the way to an 86-68 victory that allowed them to remain unbeaten. A young Concordia squad couldn’t stay with Alli Engebretson and Mackenzie Small, who combined to go 9-for-11 from beyond the arc. On a positive note, Concordia freshman Devin Edwards (ranked second in the GPAC in assist-to-turnover ratio) stepped into the point guard role and put up a career high 12 points in a career high 28 minutes.

Seventh Heaven
Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has cemented itself in the top 10 of the national rankings over the past three seasons. The team has appeared at No. 7 in each of the last four polls and has been included among the top 10 in 30-consecutive NAIA Division II coaches’ polls. During that run, the Bulldogs have also appeared at No. 1 on four occasions.

Chasing Everts
In the impressive history of Concordia women’s basketball, the program’s top five winningest coaches (in terms of number of wins) all hold winning percentages greater than .600. Current head coach Drew Olson checks in with a percentage of .718 coinciding with an overall record of 181-71. While all-time winningest coach Carl Everts (195-127, .606) will be tough to catch this season, Olson is within striking distance of reaching the top of the heap (see list below). Olson also ranks second in winning percentage behind only Todd Voss (.771).

Concordia women’s basketball winningest coaches:

  • 1. Carl Everts (1981-92) – 195-127 (.606)
  • 2. Drew Olson (2006-- ) – 181-71 (.718)
  • 3. Mark Lemke (1992-98) – 119-63 (.654)
  • 4. Todd Voss (2002-06) – 108-32 (.771)
  • 5. Micah Parker (1998-02) – 80-41 (.661)

Injury bug bites
Concordia played without the services of three starters – Kristen Conahan, Bailey Morris and Jericca Pearson – and a key reserve (Britney Birtell) last week at Northwestern. The prognosis is most positive for Morris, the team’s leading scorer, who the Bulldogs are hopeful will play versus Briar Cliff. Meanwhile, Birtell and Pearson will miss the remainder of the season. Conahan is out for the time being but her status for the rest of the season has not been determined. At 1,650 career points, Conahan ranks sixth in program history and is 150 away from the school record.

Bulldogs in the GPAC rankings
Junior Bailey Morris ranks third in the GPAC in assists per game (4.0), fourth in scoring (16.5 ppg), eighth in steals per game (2.11), 10th in field goal percentage (.398), 13th in free throw percentage (.773) and 15th in 3-point field goals per game (1.39). Senior Kristen Conahan ranks first in free throw percentage (.902), third in 3-point field goals per game (2.94), fifth in field goal percentage (.448), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.413), sixth in scoring (16.2 ppg) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.62). Junior Tracy Peitz ranks first in steals per game (3.10), 13th in scoring (14.2 ppg) and 16th in assists per game (2.58). Junior Jerrica Pearsonranks fifth in double-doubles (4), eighth in rebounding (6.6 rpg) 10th in free throw percentage (.782), 14th in steals per game (1.80) and 18th in blocks per game (0.53). Junior Kelsey Hizer ranks 14th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.44) and 19th in steals per game (1.53). FreshmanDevin Edwards ranks second in the GPAC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4).

Scouting Briar Cliff

Briar Cliff, led by sixth-year head coach Mike Power, is a perennial national tournament team. The Chargers enter play needing a victory after losses in four of their last five GPAC games dropped them to seventh in the GPAC and out of the national rankings for the first time this season. Power’s squad dipped outside of conference play on Wednesday night and defeated Dakota State 75-67 on the road. Briar Cliff still runs a high octane offense (16th in NAIA Division II in scoring) and turns its opponents over at a high rate (fifth with 13.8 steals per game). Junior guard Slone Masters makes the team go and paces the Chargers in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. Bemidji State transfer Jessi Corrick is a player to watch after putting up 14 points, eight rebounds, five steals and five assists on Wednesday. She did not play her first game with Briar Cliff until Dec. 30.

Hizer does it all as Bulldogs win in Morris' return

18 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – With junior guard Bailey Morris back in the lineup, the seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team regained the form that saw it win seven GPAC games in a row prior to last Saturday’s setback. The Bulldogs dominated the game’s final minutes on the way to a 79-63 win over Briar Cliff (12-9, 5-6 GPAC) on Saturday afternoon.

Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad moved to 16-4 overall and 10-2 in the GPAC – good enough for second place.

“The second half was just great basketball for us,” Olson said. “Defensively we finally figured them out and locked down the last 10 minutes. That was a great performance for our team.”

Whether blowing past defenders on the way to the basket or rising for a 3-pointer, Morris (game high 21 points in 36 minutes) looked comfortable on the right knee she injured on Jan. 8. She exploded to the rim and showed off her characteristic flair with a sterling bullet pass to Tracy Peitz for two during an 18-0 run that put Concordia in control.

Trailing by a small margin much of the second half, the Morris-led Bulldogs punished Briar Cliff down the stretch. The 18-0 run was ignited by a Morris trey at the 6:17 mark of the second half. That gave Concordia a lead it would keep for good. Morris combined with junior Kelsey Hizer for 15 of the 18 points during the game-winning spurt.

“We just kept hitting shot after shot and I just knew we had it in the bag,” Hizer said. “People definitely stepped up and made some plays.”

Hizer had a big day with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. The 5-foot-10 guard did a number on Briar Cliff leading scorer Slone Masters, who was held without a single point in the second half. Hizer also connected on a 3-pointer in the final minute to put an exclamation mark on the win.

“Kelsey was fantastic,” Olson said. “She hit a couple shots that helps her confidence, but it’s her defense that really helps us. Slone Masters is a really nice player and (Kelsey) was all over her.”

Concordia, which held the Chargers to 32.8 percent shooting (21.6 percent in the second half), also got solid performances from Peitz (11 points, 13 rebounds) and freshman Becky Mueller (13 points, seven rebounds). Peitz, a Hartington, Neb., native, notched her second double-double in three games. Morris added five assists and four steals to her ledger.

The Bulldogs tremendous defensive effort caused 21 Briar Cliff turnovers. In addition, Olson lauded his team for taking a season high four charges.

Oddly, Concordia shot 41.7 percent (10-for-24) from beyond the arc, but only 31.3 percent (15-for-48) on attempts inside the 3-point line.

Paige Herrboldt topped the Chargers with 15 points. Regan Cooper chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds for a Briar Cliff team that lost in GPAC play for the fifth time in the last six outings.

While Morris returned to the hardwood, the Bulldogs played their second game in a row without senior leader Kristen Conahan.

Next up for the Bulldogs is a trip to No. 10 Hastings (18-2, 9-2 GPAC) on Wednesday in what will be a battle of top 10 teams. The Broncos won the first meeting, 94-89, upsetting Concordia in Seward on Nov. 26. That contest ended a streak of seven-straight wins over the Broncos, who defeated No. 9 Morningside 64-55 on Saturday.

“We’re pretty excited to play Hastings and CIT (Jan. 24-25) is obviously always really fun so we can’t wait to get back at it,” Hizer said.

Hastings pulls away from Concordia in top 10 battle 

22 JAN 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. – In a showdown of top 10 teams in Hastings, the ninth-ranked Broncos stayed hot in topping the eighth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team, 78-65, on Wednesday night. Hastings (19-2, 10-2 GPAC) won for the 15th-straight time while following star guard Jamie Van Kirk’s 16 second half points to victory. The Bulldogs dropped to 16-5 overall and 10-3 in the GPAC.

Leaning upon junior Bailey Morris (team high 22 points), Concordia hoped to hand the host Broncos their first loss since Nov. 23. Morris racked up her second-straight 20-point game and commanded an attack that shot an impressive 48.4 percent in the first half. However, the scoring dried up late when turnovers mounted and Hastings took control.

“To beat a top 10 team on the road you can’t turn the ball over the way we did,” Bulldog head coach Drew Olson said. “We played well in the first half but we didn’t play the way we are capable of after that. We need to be a lot more efficient.”

The Bulldogs held a six-point early second half lead until Van Kirk began making shot after shot. She splashed home 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the second stanza to help the Broncos build an eight point lead. Hastings later pulled away late by holding Concordia without a field goal over the last five minutes of action.

The game’s final minutes were a departure from the bulk of the contest’s first 20-plus minutes when Olson’s squad operated successfully on the offensive end. Junior Tracy Peitz notched all of her 11 points in the first half. As a team, Concordia committed 16 of its 25 turnovers in the second half. It lost the turnover battle (25-15) for only the second time all season.

Down low, a guard-oriented Bulldog lineup did a respectable job of limiting 6-foot-4 center Laurel Zwiener, who went 5-for-10 from the floor. She totaled 19 points and four rebounds. Concordia actually held a 36-34 rebound advantage against the taller Bronco squad.

“Our post defense was good. It could be better. Zwiener is a tough matchup for our team. Holding her to 19 is pretty good.”

Sophomore Taylor Wissing provided a lift off the bench for Concordia with a career best nine points. She made all three attempts from the field, including a pair of treys. In addition, junior Kelsey Hizer went for double digits for the second-consecutive game as she put a dozen.

Hastings, guided by head coach Carrie Hoffstetter, began its 15-game winning streak with a 94-89 upset of then No. 5 Concordia inside Walz Arena on Nov. 26. The Broncos appear to be the league’s most improved team after finishing 15-16 overall last season.

All five of the Concordia’s losses have come to teams either currently ranked in the top 10 or ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game.

The Bulldogs will play their final non-conference games of the regular season on Friday and Saturday as part of the 63rd annual Concordia Invitational Tournament. Olson’s squad draws Concordia-Wisconsin (15-1) at 6 p.m. on Friday. The 2014 event will be hosted by Concordia University Wisconsin. For a preview of CIT, click HERE.

“They’re a good team,” Olson said of Friday’s opponent. “At 15-1 you know they’re doing a lot right. (Katie) Luethe is a really good player. She would be one of the best if she was in the GPAC. They have a nice team.”

Mueller's big night propels Bulldogs to CIT title game 

24 JAN 2014

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.

Bulldogs reclaim CIT trophy; Morris earns MVP honors

25 JAN 2014

MEQUON, Wis. – The eighth-ranked Bulldog women’s basketball team ramped up its fullcourt pressure and scored the game’s first 13 points on the way to an impressive 70-50 win over Concordia University Ann Arbor in the Concordia Invitational Tournament title game on Saturday. It’s the 24th CIT title in the history of the Bulldog women’s basketball program – most all time.

“I thought we had great energy to begin with. Our pressure got to them at the beginning,” Bulldog eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “It kind of wore them down and they took some shots they’re not used to taking. I thought our defense was really, really good throughout the whole game.”

The nasty Bulldog defense came out with an intense fullcourt pressure look that caused 11 turnovers in the opening eight minutes. CUNE (18-5) already enjoyed a double digit lead less than four minutes into play when freshman guard Shelby Quinn sniped a triple. CUAA finally got its first field goal on a Tiffany Karger 3-pointer at the 10:35 mark.

Once again the bulk of the production came from junior point guard and tournament MVP Bailey Morris (18 points, five assists) and freshman forward Becky Mueller (16 points, eight rebounds). Morris sparkled on both ends of the floor while Mueller again shined while doing most of her damage inside. Mueller, an Elkhorn, Neb., native, piled up a combined  39 points and 13 rebounds as part of a tremendous two-game CIT performance.

“To play this well on this kind of stage says a lot about her character, her toughness and her cool attitude,” Olson said. “She’s a really good player.

“And Bailey is carrying us at times, especially with the ball handling load and her decision making. She’s a great player. You can tell when she has her burst we’re a pretty good basketball team.”

Mueller was amazed by the spirited atmosphere, but never fazed.

“It’s definitely better than I expected,” Mueller said. “I wasn’t expecting there to be as many fans for us. That was a great surprise that we had people cheering for us.”

Head coach Thad Sankey, a Bulldog alum and graduate assistant under Olson last season, settled his team down after the rough opening minutes. CUAA even pulled with five points after star Brooke Adams nailed a pair of free throws with 14:48 left in the game. Less than four minutes later the Bulldog lead bulged back into double figures.

Seemingly anytime the Cardinals tried to muster a run, Morris (4-for-7 from three) would follow with a big shot. She also dished out five assists.

Morris’ shots and an inability to solve the Bulldog defense plagued CUAA, which shot only 31.3 percent and committed 30 turnovers. That tenacity on the defensive end was the biggest reason why CUNE raised the trophy on Saturday night.

“I’m just really excited. This was one of our goals for the season,” Mueller said. “We knew we could win and we knew we should win, but to actually win was really great.”

A throng of CUNE students rushed the floor to celebrate the CIT championship in Mequon, Wis., where the Bulldogs also captured a title in 2010.

The CIT title is the fifth for Olson, who also guided the program to championships in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

The Bulldogs return to the GPAC grind on Wednesday when they host Doane (10-11, 4-9 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CUNE won the first meeting in Crete by a score of 82-75. The Tigers are coming off 71-61 victory at Mount Marty on Saturday.

CIT All-Tournament Team:
MVP: CUNE – Bailey Morris
CUNE – Becky Mueller
CUAA – Brook Adams
CUC – April Broska
CUW – Anna Butler

Return to GPAC play yields 21-point rout of Doane

29 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – While a CIT hangover may have been cause for Concordia’s slow start on Wednesday, the ninth-ranked Bulldog women’s basketball team rebounded in impressive fashion. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad dominated the second half and earned the season sweep of rival Doane with an 83-62 victory inside Walz Arena.

The Bulldogs raised their records to 19-5 overall and 11-3 in GPAC action.

“Our practices were a little bit flat on Monday and Tuesday, but that’s normally what happens after CIT,” Olson said. “It’s a long road trip, a lot of energy (expended) and it’s hard to get up for that next game.

“But I think a lot of it had to do with Doane doing some really nice things.”

After trailing by as many as seven points in the first half, Concordia took a two-point lead to the break after Bailey Morris drained an elbow jumper at the close of the first 20 minutes. Morris and company then seized control by scoring the first 14 points of the second half as part of a 16-0 run.

The onslaught of 16 unanswered points included a flurry of perimeter jumpers. Counting the bucket at the end of the first half, the Bulldogs scored on six-straight possessions with four of those producing a 3-point field goal. Morris made two triples and Becky Mueller and Tracy Peitz knocked in one trey apiece as part of the splurge that allowed the Bulldogs to run away from a pesky Doane group.

Just like during its CIT title run, Morris and Mueller supplied a great deal of the offensive firepower. Morris dazzled with the dribble drive on the way to dropping a game high 24 points while Mueller posted 12. Tracy Peitz then got into the act after the half with all of her 14 points coming over the final 20 minutes.

Peitz’s play reflected the performance of the team as a whole. After committing 10 first half turnovers, Concordia possessed the ball much better and turned it over just five times after halftime.

Off the bench, Jenna Lehmann produced what Olson called “one of the best games of her career.” The native of Albion, Neb., tallied nine points and a career high eight rebounds in 13 minutes. She made all four shots from the field and even added a nifty reverse layup for good measure.

“I really have no idea where that came from,” Lehmann joked afterwards. “Tracy and Becky always do that to me at practice so I was just like ‘I’m going to go for it and see what happens,’ and luckily it went really well.”

Lehmann, a sophomore, is one of several younger players progressing late in the season, along with the likes of freshmen Devin Edwards, Karissa Segelke and Shelby Quinn.

“Our young kids are starting to get a little bit more confident,” Olson said. “They’re playing together and getting better. That’s good for us.”

Concordia shot 45.3 percent on the night while holding the Tigers to a 39.2 percent clip. The Bulldogs frustrated Doane into 25 turnovers.

The Tigers were paced by 17 points from Heather Broman. Star junior Hannah Dostal had a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.

The Bulldogs hit the road again on Saturday to take on Mount Marty (10-13, 2-12 GPAC) at 2 p.m. in Yankton, S.D. In their first meeting this season, Concordia posted a season high point total on the way to a 109-86 rout of the Lancers. Mount Marty stunned No. 2 Northwestern, 78-74, on Wednesday night.

Olson picks up 100th career GPAC win as 'Dogs gut it out on the road

1 FEB 2014

YANKTON, S.D. – Three days after pulling off the biggest shocker of the GPAC basketball season, Mount Marty threatened to knock off another top 10 team. However, the ninth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team rallied back from a 12-point first half deficit for a 60-53 win in Yankton, S.D., on Saturday afternoon.

The season sweep of Mount Marty pushes the Bulldogs to 20-5 overall and 12-3 in GPAC contests. The game also marked the 100th career GPAC win for eighth-year head coach Drew Olson.

“Obviously we’re a different team than the first time we played them,” Olson said. “They’re a lot different as well. Their kids are improving and playing better in their systems. They are a much more competitive team than their record would indicate.”

The Bulldogs reached 20 wins for the third-straight year and for the sixth time in seven seasons despite their cold shooting at Mount Marty. In stark contrast to Concordia’s 109-86 victory over the Lancers in Seward earlier this season, the Bulldogs shot 34.3 percent on Saturday.

Olson’s squad navigated through murky waters by doing a lot of little things well. Point guard Bailey Morris totaled a game high 21 points and dished out five assists without a single turnover. That helped Concordia earn a plus-six turnover advantage while also gaining a 45-35 edge on the boards.

Those numbers were key on a day when it looked like Mount Marty may complete an improbable week of upsets by knocking off No. 2 Northwestern (which it did on Wednesday) and No. 9 Concordia.

“Knowing they just beat Northwestern, our thinking was to get up on them early so that they would begin to doubt themselves,” Olson said. “Instead it was, ‘uh oh, here it comes again. They’re going to do what they did to Northwestern.’ There were moments where it was like, ‘what is going on.’”

Those emotions were calmed when the Bulldogs gained the upper hand in the second half. From the 8:54 mark of the first half to the 17:33 mark of the second half, Concordia outscored Mount Marty 23-8 to grab a three-point lead.

The advantaged rose as high as eight points in the final minutes, but an Allison De Kam wide open layup with 1:06 brought the Lancers within 57-53. Morris decided Mount Marty would not be celebrating a second-straight upset. Concordia’s star point guard got behind the defense for a layup off a long toss on the proceeding out-of-bounds play. She later added a free throw to put the game out of reach.

For Morris, the 21-point output marked her ninth 20-point game of the season. She’s averaging 20.8 points over the past six games.

“We needed that from her,” Olson said of Morris’ no turnovers in 37 minutes on Saturday. “Defensively she did a nice job as well. She had a couple of ticky-tack fouls go against her but it never affected her. She had a complete game.”

Tracy Peitz’s big second half also aided the Concordia comeback. She dropped 11 of her 15 points over the final 20 minutes. She ended up with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Freshman Becky Mueller fell just short of a double-double as she added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Raquel Sutera and Denae Veldkamp paced Mount Marty with 13 points each. The Lancers shot 38.3 percent and committed 19 turnovers.

The Bulldogs continue on the road in GPAC play when they take on Nebraska Wesleyan (1-18, 0-14 GPAC) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.  Concordia has dominated the rivalry with wins in 13-straight meetings with the Prairie Wolves, including a 94-65 victory in Seward earlier this season.

Morris collects second GPAC player of the week honor this season

4 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time this season, Concordia junior guard Bailey Morris has been named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, as announced by the league on Tuesday. Morris also received the same honor on Jan. 14, 2013, during her sophomore campaign.

Twenty-point games have become the norm for Morris, who eclipsed 20 points in Bulldog victories over Doane and Mount Marty last week, marking the eighth and ninth times this season she has reached that figure. The native of Roseland, Neb., totaled 45 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and seven steals while committing only two turnovers in 61 minutes of action over the two games. She made 16 of 30 shots from the field.

Said head coach Drew Olson after Morris was named MVP of the 2014 CIT: “Bailey is carrying us at times, especially with the ball handling load and her decision making. She’s a great player. You can tell when she has her burst we’re a pretty good basketball team.”

Morris ranks fourth in the GPAC in scoring at 17.6 points per game, third in assists (3.96) and fifth in steals (2.46). She currently ranks 17th in school history with 1,195 career points.

Morris is one of two Bulldogs to receive a conference player of the week honor this season. Senior Kristen Conahan garnered weekly recognition from the GPAC on Nov. 19 following a game in which she made eight 3-point field goals in a win over Morningside.

The ninth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team returns to action at 6 p.m. on Wednesday when they go head-to-head with Nebraska Wesleyan (1-18, 0-14 GPAC) in Lincoln.

Ninth-ranked Bulldogs top Nebraska Wesleyan for 14th-straight time

5 FEB 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. – Very little comes easy in the loaded GPAC, but on Wednesday the ninth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team cruised to a 72-54 victory over host Nebraska Wesleyan. It marked the Bulldogs’ 14th-straight win in the series with the rival Prairie Wolves (1-19, 0-15 GPAC), whose only triumph came in their season opener.

Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad moved to 21-5 overall and 13-3 in GPAC play.

“Our first half was really good,” Olson said. “We had a lot of energy and focus and caused turnovers. We’re still a little spacy offensively. We’re not seeing the court as well as we should at times.

“In the second half we were not good enough to get better like we need to. We need our bench to continue to improve.”

In a game in which Concordia distanced itself early on, the biggest news to come out of Wednesday’s affair was the return of senior guard Kristen Conahan from an injury she suffered on Jan. 8. Donning a protective brace on her left knee, Conahan played nine minutes and went 0-for-1 from the field.

“It was a great night to put her in,” Olson said. “We wanted to see if she could go. We had a good cushion at the time and she had looked good. She’s able to do the things we need. She can shoot and she can defend. I think we need her and her ability to space the defense at this point.”

But Conahan was hardly needed on this night. Teammate Tracy Peitz starred as she went for 17 points and five rebounds while collaborating on a pressure defense that destroyed Nebraska Wesleyan to the tune of 31 turnovers (21 in the first half).

With the Prairie Wolves giving up the ball with alarming frequency, Concordia enjoyed its first double-digit lead less than nine minutes into play and held a virtually insurmountable 43-19 halftime advantage. The Bulldogs finished the half on a 24-8 run and had total control.

The big lead allowed Olson to empty the bench. The result was a balanced effort that saw seven Bulldogs post five or more points. Five freshmen saw action and combined for 28 points, led by Devin Edwards’ nine. Shelby Quinn’s seven points were a career high.

There were a couple of bright spots for a Prairie Wolves team that had three players turn it over five or more times. They were paced by the 18-point performance from Felicia TeKolste. In addition, head coach Britni Fett’s squad went on a 14-5 run to end the game.

The comfortable win did not come via hot shooting as Concordia posted a 32.4-percent field goal percentage against a predominantly zone defense. The Prairie Wolves managed only a 32.7-percent clip.

The Bulldogs go back on the road on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tilt at Dakota Wesleyan (15-10, 8-8 GPAC). In the season’s first meeting, Concordia ran away with an 85-66 win over the Tigers in Seward on Dec. 20. Dakota Wesleyan has lost four straight after Wednesday night’s 71-70 defeat at Dordt.

With No. 5 Hastings’ (12-3 GPAC) upset loss at Doane on Wednesday, the Bulldogs again control their own destiny for at least a share of the conference title.

Morris wills comeback from 17 down in instant classic road win

8 FEB 2014

MITCHELL, S.D. – The ninth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team missed its first 12 shots of the night as part of a frustrating start at Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday evening. But then Bailey Morris happened. The sparkplug guard dominated with a career high 34 points and Concordia went 32-for-36 from the free throw line to steal an 86-84 win over the host Tigers (15-11, 8-9 GPAC).

The game came down to the last shot when Bulldog freshman Becky Mueller banked in a buzzer beater from the block on an out of bounds play (assisted by Kelsey Hizer) to send the Concordia bench into a frenzy. Mueller’s clutch shot completed an improbable comeback after falling behind by 17 points in the first half.

The Bulldogs found a way to get to 22-5 overall and 14-3 in GPAC action.

“When you look at the stat line you’ll think Bailey and Tracy (Peitz) had great games, and they did, but it was really a collective win,” Olson said. “What an incredible game.”

The Tigers jumped out to a 13-2 lead, holding Concordia without a field goal until Bailey Morris’ layup at the 12:10 mark of the half. Dakota Wesleyan pumped the lead up to 17 late in the first half before settling for a 43-30 lead at the break.

The Tigers still led by 10 with 6:04 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs gradually worked into the lead for the first time all night with an 18-7 run that made it 84-83 with 1:27 left. The Tigers then tied it with a free throw with just 23 seconds remaining to set the stage for the heroics of Mueller, who scored Concordia’s final six points.

“Lots of screaming and yelling,” Olson said about the reaction to Mueller’s game-winning shot.

The Bulldogs would not have been in position for the win if not for the monster night from Morris (15-for-15 from the free throw line). After 13 points in the first half, the junior star piled up 21 more in a critical second half performance. She put up all of those points during a stretch of less than 12 minutes in serving as a personal wrecking crew, spoiling the Tiger senior night.

“Bailey had one of the best games I’ve seen,” Olson said. “Thinking back, that will go down as one of the better games for an individual.

“Bailey and Tracy completely dominated.”

While overshadowed somewhat by Morris, Peitz racked up 21 points, aided by 11-for-12 foul shooting. She added six rebounds and three steals. Mueller joined Morris and Peitz in double figures with 13 of her own.

Two-time All-American Kristen Conahan registered in the scoring column for the first time since Jan. 8 when she nailed a jumper midway through the first half and finished with four points in 16 minutes.

Despite missing its first 12 shots, Concordia managed to shoot 39.7 percent for the game. The Tigers shot 48.1 percent but turned it over 21 times. They were led by Celeste Beck’s 22 points.

Saturday’s win marks the Bulldogs’ biggest comeback victory of the season. They rallied from a 15-point deficit to win at Grand View on Nov. 2.

“It was a matter of regrouping and figuring out what we were doing wrong in our press,” Olson said after Saturday’s win. “We had to attack offensively and not try to get it all back at once. Our team showed great composure. We kept chipping away and put ourselves in position to win.”

The Bulldogs are back at Walz Arena next week for their final two regular-season home games of the season. Up next is Midland (13-13, 9-7 GPAC) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Concordia won the season’s first meeting by a score of 82-74 on Jan. 8 despite Conahan and Morris both leaving the game early.

Morris nets second-straight GPAC player of the week award

11 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – A career high 34-points in last week’s win at Dakota Wesleyan has allowed Concordia junior Bailey Morris to earn GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Week accolades for the second straight time, as announced by the league on Tuesday. Morris also received the same recognition on Dec. 17, making her a three-time conference weekly honoree on the season.

With more minutes and an even larger role as a ball handler in recent action, Morris has flourished like never before. Her 34-point effort last week marked the highest single-game total for a GPAC player this season. It was also the most for a Bulldog since Amber Kistler racked up 37 points in a win at Briar Cliff on Feb. 8, 2012.

On the week Morris totaled 46 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in leading ninth-ranked Concordia to wins over Nebraska Wesleyan (Feb. 5) and Dakota Wesleyan (Feb. 8). The Roseland, Neb., native also made all 21 of her free throw attempts.

The 5-foot-4 point guard now has 11 games this season with 20 or more points. She is averaging 21.4 points over her last eight games and now ranks second in the GPAC in scoring with a season average of 18.0.

Morris is one of two Bulldogs to receive a conference player of the week honor this season. Senior Kristen Conahan garnered weekly recognition from the GPAC on Nov. 19 following a game in which she made eight 3-point field goals in a win over Morningside.

Morris and the Bulldogs return to action on Wednesday when they host Midland (13-13, 9-7 GPAC) at 6 p.m. 

Ninth-ranked Bulldogs host big week of GPAC basketball

11 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – This week will likely decide whether the ninth-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team will hoist the GPAC regular-season championship trophy for the second time in three seasons. The Bulldogs host Midland (13-13, 9-7 GPAC) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and before welcoming No. 3 Northwestern (22-2, 14-2 GPAC) at 2 p.m. on Saturday in what has the potential to be a game of significant importance. Both contests will be streamed live and free online via the Concordia Sports Network.

Saturday will also be Senior Day as the careers of Britney Birtell, Kristen Conahan and Lori Laboda will be celebrated.

Home basketball promotions this week:
-Wednesday: Concordia vs. Midland (6/8 p.m.) – Red out game (fans are encouraged to wear red in support of Heart Health Month). Prizes will be given away at halftime.
-Saturday: Concordia vs. Northwestern (2/4 p.m.) – Fan Appreciation/Senior Day. An ice cream social will be held in between games.

Analyzing the GPAC race

1. Northwestern: 14-2

-What’s left: at Dakota Wesleyan (2/12), at Concordia (2/15), vs. Dordt (2/19), vs. Hastings (2/22)

2. Concordia: 14-3

-What’s left: vs. Midland (2/12), vs. Northwestern (2/15), at Morningside (2/22)

3. Hastings: 13-3

-What’s left: vs. Nebraska Wesleyan (2/12), vs. Dakota Wesleyan (2/15), at Midland (2/19), at Northwestern (2/22)

4. Morningside: 12-4

-What’s left: at Dordt (2/12), at Doane (2/15), vs. Briar Cliff (2/19), vs. Concordia (2/22)

Heading into the final two weeks of the GPAC regular season, four teams remain in contention for the GPAC crown. The top three teams all control their own destinies for at least a share of the title. The fact that three matchups between the top four teams remain on the schedule should make for an exciting finish. The Bulldogs are involved in two of those games as they host Northwestern and travel to Morningside to close the season.

Masseyratings.com projects the GPAC’s top four to finish with the following conference marks:

1. Northwestern: 18-2
T2. Hastings: 16-4
T2. Morningside: 16-4
4. Concordia: 15-5

Three seniors set to play final regular-season home game
The senior trio of Britney Birtell, Kristen Conahan and Lori Laboda will be recognized on Saturday for their contributions over the past four seasons. Collectively, they have combined for 2,607 points, 1,158 rebounds, 435 assists and 479 steals over 318 total games. The senior class owns a career record of 96-32 (.750). In their first three seasons, they have been part of two national tournaments, one GPAC regular-season and tournament title and one appearance in the national semifinals.

Britney Birtell: "My time at Concordia has been a great one! I am so blessed to have gone to a school surrounded by Christian coaches, professors and peers. I especially want to thank my parents, Coach Olson and Coach Harms for setting a good example of how I should live my life for Jesus and for always being there for me. -Go Dawgs!"

  • Career: Birtell, who hails from Madison, Neb., has played in 82 games over the last four seasons, totaling 252 points and 185 rebounds. She tallied a career high 17 points on Nov. 5, 2011, in a win over Tabor College.

Kristen Conahan: “Concordia has been a great experience for me. I have been blessed with so many memories here, and it's definitely a place I can call home. One of my favorite memories would have to be winning GPAC at home my sophomore year, when all of the fans stormed the court. It was an exciting year, we ended up making it to the final four at nationals. I want to thank God for blessing me with amazing parents, teammates and coaches throughout my career. I know I wouldn't have been able to be as successful without my wonderful parents who came to every game, and my teammates who pushed me every day at practice. I want to thank my coaches for getting after me and holding me to high expectations on and off the court. I am so thankful for my opportunity at Concordia. I wouldn't change it for the world. GO DAWGS!! :)”

  • Career: Conahan will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of one of the NAIA’s top women’s basketball programs. Conahan ranks sixth in school history in career scoring with 1,654 points and is a two-time NAIA All-American. The Omaha native had been well on pace to break the school scoring record until suffering an injury on Jan. 8. Conahan has also been a first team all-GPAC selection the last two seasons and last year was named honorary captain of the Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska team. She has made 323 career 3-point field goals.

Lori Laboda: “Wow, these last four years have gone by so quickly! It feels like just yesterday I was a freshman moving into David Hall. I have loved my time here at Concordia. I have been blessed with awesome teachers, coaches and friends. Basketball the last four years has been such a great experience. I have had great teammates and made so many memories that will last a lifetime. I want to thank my coaches and professors for making college a great learning experience for me. I would like to thank my parents and grandparents. I would never be where I am today without all of their love and support.”

  • Career: Laboda has amassed 701 points, 688 rebounds, 163 steals and 133 assists in 116 career games as a Bulldog. She led the team in rebounding as both a sophomore and junior. Laboda, a native of Parker, Colo., is a two-time honorable mention all-GPAC selection.

Previous meeting with Midland
The Bulldogs came away with an 82-74 win in Fremont, Neb., on Jan. 8 on a night when the biggest stories were the injuries to star guards Kristen Conahan and Bailey Morris. Concordia triumphed despite getting only a combined eight points from Conahan and Morris. Junior Tracy Peitz had a monster game with 26 points and 12 rebounds to fuel the win. Concordia held Midland to 39.0 percent shooting and forced 24 turnovers.

Previous meeting with Northwestern
The Jan.11 trip to Northwestern came right on the heels of the costly win at Midland. A depleted Bulldog team fell by a score of 86-68 in Orange City, Iowa. Drew Olson’s squad struggled to stay with the combo of Alli Engebretson and Mackenzie Small, who collectively went 9-for-11 from beyond the arc. On a positive note, freshman Devin Edwards tallied a career high 12 points and four assists in 28 minutes of action.

Concordia at a glance
Individual leaders
Scoring: Bailey Morris – 18.0
Rebounds: Tracy Peitz – 5.9
Assists: Morris – 3.85
Steals: Peitz – 2.48
Blocks: Peitz – 0.44
Team
Scoring offense: 82.1 (3rd in GPAC)
Scoring defense: 71.3 (8th in GPAC)

Midland at a glance
Individual leaders
Scoring: Jamilah Johnson – 14.4
Rebounds: Sammi Licari – 6.4
Assists: Licari – 3.23
Steals: Licari – 2.46
Blocks: Taylor Shepard – 0.65
Team
Scoring offense: 69.7 (10th in GPAC)
Scoring defense: 68.5 (3rd in GPAC) 

Northwestern at a glance
Individual leaders
Scoring: Allie Engebretson – 18.7
Rebounds: Samantha Kleinsasser – 7.5
Assists: Paige O’Neal – 5.5
Steals: Mackenzie Small – 2.04
Blocks: Kleinsasser – 1.71
Team
Scoring offense: 91.3 (1st in GPAC)
Scoring defense: 68.8 (4th in GPAC) 

Weekend outlook

There’s plenty on the line as Concordia completes the home portion of the 2013-14 regular-season schedule. The Bulldogs look for a season sweep of Midland and a season split with Northwestern. The Warriors have had an up and down season. They boast four wins over top 25 teams but have struggled to string together wins since a 7-2 start to the season. Even so, Midland has made big strides in head coach Shawn Gilbert’s first year and poses a significant threat.

The schedule won’t lighten up over the final two games as third-ranked Northwestern visits Seward Saturday. The Red Raiders sit at or near the top of the GPAC in virtually every major statistical category and are averaging nearly 23 points per game more than their opponents. Concordia will have to do a better job of containing Northwestern’s Allie Engebretson and Mackenzie Small, who were nearly automatic from the perimeter in the first meeting. The Red Raiders sit in the driver’s seat in the race for the GPAC title.

Led by Peitz, Bulldogs win another heart stopper

12 FEB 2014

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.”

Saturday's battle of GPAC leaders named NAIA game of the week

14 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second-straight meeting in the series, the seventh-ranked Concordia women's basketball team will square off with No. 3 Northwestern in the "NAIA DII Women's Basketball Game of the Week," as announced by the NAIA on Friday. At 15-3 in the GPAC, the Bulldogs hold a half game lead over both Northwestern and No. 5 Hastings atop the conference standings.

Saturday's tilt with Northwestern inside Walz Arena is also Senior Day and Fan Appreciation Day at Concordia. Bulldog seniors Britney Birtell, Kristen Conahan and Lori Laboda will be honored for their contributions to the program.

NAIA game notes

Full Release

NAIA Game of the Week – No. 6

No. 3 Northwestern (Iowa) (22-3, 14-3 GPAC) at No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) (23-5, 15-3 GPAC)
Saturday, Feb. 15 | 2 p.m. CST | Walz Human Performance Complex | Seward, Neb.
Live Stats | Live Video – Provided by Concordia

• Regular-season title hopes and an automatic berth in the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship are up for grabs Saturday when No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) welcomes No. 3 Northwestern (Iowa) to the Walz Human Performance Center for a 2 p.m. CST tip off. The Bulldogs, who enter the weekend with a 15-3 record in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), hold a 0.5-game lead over Northwestern and No. 5 Hastings (Neb.), who are tied for second with 14-3 records in the league.
• Not including Saturday’s Game of the Week, Concordia has one game remaining on its regular season schedule – at No. 8 Morningside (Iowa) on Feb. 22 – while Northwestern has two to play with home games against Dordt (Iowa) on Feb. 19 and Hastings on Feb. 22.
• Concordia’s last conference title came during the 2011-12 season, when the Bulldogs were both the GPAC regular-season and tournament champions, while Northwestern’s last conference crown came in 2010-11.
• Last season, both teams qualified for the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. It was the second-straight appearance for Concordia, and the Bulldogs 12th appearance all-time. The berth was the eighth-straight for Northwestern, and also the Red Raiders’ 12th all-time appearance. The Red Raiders hold the NAIA Division II women’s basketball record for national championship titles (5) and national championship victories (47).
• In the last 10 meetings, Northwestern holds an 8-2 edge, including an 86-68 victory over the Concordia earlier this season. The Red Raiders have won four-straight in the series.
• In the first meeting of the 2013-14 season, the Red Raiders shot 46.9 percent (30-for-64) from the field, including a 10-for-20 effort from 3-point range, en route to the win. Northwestern also dominated the glass, outrebounding Concordia, 50-35. Guard Alli Engebretson paced the Red Raiders with a season-high 28 points and 11 rebounds.
• Northwestern, which opened the year with 18-straight victories, is 4-3 in its last seven games, including a 97-76 loss at unranked Dakota Wesleyan its last time out on Feb. 12. Conversely, Concordia is riding a season-best seven-game winning streak into the contest.
• The Red Raiders have not lost back-to-back games since the 2011-12 season, when they fell at then-No. 25 Mount Mercy (Iowa), 64-54, and against then-No. 5 Briar Cliff (Iowa), 76-69.
• The Red Raiders are 5-1 against ranked opponents this season, with wins against then-No. 10 Jamestown (N.D.), 96-86 on Nov. 1; then-No. 12 Briar Cliff, 114-81, on Nov. 12; then-No. 3 Morningside, 102-82, on Nov. 26; then-No. 10 Midland, 89-69, on Dec. 14; and then-No. 8 Concordia, 86-68, on Jan. 11.
• Three Red Raiders enter the weekend averaging at least 16 points per game, led by Engebretson’s 18.5 points per game. The Ames, Iowa, native has registered double-digit points in 32 of her last 33 games dating back to last season, including 10 20-plus point performances this year. Engebretson also leads the team in double-doubles with nine and is second in rebounding with 184 (7.4 per game).
• Three of Northwestern’s starting five have at least 1,000 career points – Engebretson (1,197), Samantha Kleinsasser (1,258) and Karen Hutson (1,001)
• As a team, Northwestern ranks among the top 10 nationally in seven statistical categories, including second in scoring offense per game (90.6) and third in field goal percentage (47.2 percent).
• Concordia has four wins against ranked opponents this season: against then-No. 17 Grand View (Iowa), 87-82, on Nov. 2; then-No. 23 College of Saint Mary (Neb.), 96-89, on Nov. 5; then-No. 3 Morningside, 90-82 (OT), on Nov. 16; and then-No. 12 Briar Cliff (Iowa), 80-72, on Nov. 23.
• Guard Bailey Morris leads four Bulldogs in double figures at 18.0 points per game. Since scoring a season-low four points against Midland (Neb.) on Jan. 8, Morris is averaging 21 points per game and is shooting 45.9 percent (62-of-135) from the floor, including a career-best 34-point effort against Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 8. Morris also leads the team in assists with 102, while ranking second on the squad in steals (65) and free throw percentage (82.1 percent).
• Other Bulldogs averaging double figures are Tracy Peitz (14.0), Kristen Conahan (13.4) and Becky Mueller (10.3).
• As a team, Concordia ranks among the top 10 nationally in total scoring offense (4th; 2,295), total steals (5th; 346), turnover margin (5th; 6.3) and steals per game (12.4).

Morris drops school record 45 points as Bulldogs knock off No. 3 Northwestern

15 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Saturday’s frenetically paced NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week quickly turned into the Bailey Morris variety show. She scored in virtually every way possible in leading No. 7 Concordia to an 89-78 victory over third-ranked Northwestern (22-4, 14-4 GPAC) in a battle of GPAC frontrunners.

At 24-5 overall and 16-3 in GPAC action, eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s Bulldogs hold a half game lead over Hastings (15-3) and have now moved 1.5 games up on the Red Raiders.

“That was a great basketball game,” Olson said. “Both teams played hard. Our kids really stepped up. Bailey’s performance obviously stands out with 45 points.

“We needed other players to step up and they did.”

With the spotlight shining on Saturday’s showdown, Morris went off for 28 points in the first half and then 17 more in the second half to shatter the school single-game scoring record. The Roseland, Neb., native’s 45 points eclipsed the former program mark of 37 by Amber Kistler in 2012.

“I was pretty happy with my performance,” Morris said. “My shots were falling. Their type of defense is one that we can attack a lot. We had a lot of people step up.”

Morris, winner of the last two GPAC player of the week awards, went 12-for-26 from the field (4-for-8 from 3-point range) and 17-for-18 from the free throw line. She added eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in 39 minutes of action.

The absence of the 5-foot-4 floor general in the first meeting with Northwestern doomed the Bulldogs to a lopsided 86-68 defeat in Orange City, Iowa, on Jan. 11. With Concordia aiming for its second GPAC crown in three seasons, Morris refused to allow the Bulldogs to fall on their home court.

“That scoreboard up there says ‘Bulldogs’ and we definitely played like Bulldogs today,” Morris said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be on this team.”

After trailing 43-42 at the break, Concordia gained the advantage early in the second half and held it virtually the entire way. The Bulldogs got big 3-point buckets from freshmen Devin Edwards, Becky Mueller and Shelby Quinn. Then there were the tough points in the paint that came from junior Ashley Kuntz (eight points, three steals).

Those contributions were much needed as Tracy Peitz got whistled for her fourth foul early in the second half before being charged with her fifth personal at the 7:20 mark with Concordia up 69-65.

Concordia eventually put the game away with a 14-0 run that turned a tight two-point game into an 87-71 lead with only 2:06 left on the clock. Morris initiated the run with two free throws and junior Kelsey Hizer piggy-backed with a triple to ignite a large Walz Arena crowd. Morris sank nine points during the run that sealed up win No. 24.

“We went to a zone that was able to slow their tempo down a little bit and we were able to identify their shooters better,” Olson said. “Defensively I thought we did a nice job. Offensively it was just kids stepping up and making plays when we needed it. Every time Northwestern would cut into our lead, we always seemed to be able to make a big shot.”

The Bulldog zone defense limited Northwestern sharpshooters Alli Engebretson and Mackenzie Small to a combined 4-for-14 effort from 3-point range, a stark contrast to their 9-for-11 3-point shooting in the first meeting. Engebretson finished with 27 points to lead the Red Raiders, who have now lost two in a row.

On an afternoon when Morris provided most of the firepower, Hizer was the only other Bulldog to reach double figures as she went for 11 points in addition to four rebounds and two steals.

Concordia is now in the midst of an improbable eight-game winning streak while dealing with numerous injuries to key players. Senior guard Kristen Conahan again sat out on Saturday.

There’s no complaining. These Bulldogs just find ways to win.

“I think when we had a couple players go down, people kind of counted us out,” Morris said. “But we’re a tough team. People step up. We go to practice every day and push each other and make each other better and it transfers to games.”

The Bulldogs have a week off before playing their final game of the GPAC regular season next Saturday. Concordia will take its act on the road against No. 8 Morningside (23-5, 14-4 GPAC). A win would guarantee at least a share of the GPAC regular-season title for the Bulldogs, who can capture an outright championship with a victory and a loss by Hastings in one of its two remaining games.

Record-breaking Morris named national and GPAC player of the week

18 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The weekly honors rolled in on Tuesday for Concordia junior Bailey Morris, three days removed from a 45-point performance that broke the Bulldog women’s basketball single-game record. Not only did the Roseland, Neb., native receive GPAC Player of the Week accolades for the third-straight time, she also earned NAIA Division II National Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career.

“I was pretty happy with my performance,” Morris said after scoring 45 points to lead the win over No. 3 Northwestern. “My shots were falling. Their type of defense is one that we can attack a lot. We had a lot of people step up.”

The 5-foot-4 guard totaled 63 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists last week as the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (24-5, 16-3 GPAC) won their seventh and eighth-straight games. Morris’ big week moved her to No. 1 on the GPAC leaderboard with an average of 19.0 points per game (15th among all NAIA Division II players).

In her 45-point performance, Morris went 12-for-26 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point range and 17-for-18 from the free throw line. Over the last three games, she is averaging 32.3 points. She has made 44 of her last 45 free throw attempts. She has 12 games of 20 or more points this season. During her high school career at Sandy Creek, her career high point total was 19.

Morris is the first national player of the week for the program since Amber Kistler won the award late in the 2011-12 season. Kistler received the honor following her school record 37-point effort, a mark that stood until last weekend.

Morris and the Bulldogs return to action on Saturday at No. 8 Morningside (23-5, 14-4 GPAC), who has also won eight-consecutive games entering the week. A win would earn Concordia at least a share of and possibly the outright GPAC regular-season title for the second time in three years.

National player of the week nominees: Jenna Engh, Viterbo (Wis.); Kayla Morgan, Oklahoma Wesleyan; Hailey Longtin, Mayville State (N.D.); Morgan Stuut, Saint Xavier (Ill.); Jenelle Wilson, Saint Francis (Ind.); Tiesha Stokes, Davenport (Mich.); Chakala Carthen, College of Idaho; Quinn Rear, Ashford (Iowa); Lori Dauer, Sterling (Kan.); Lydia Nash, Union (Ky.); Antishia Wright, St. Thomas (Fla.); Carla Booth, Alice Lloyd (Ky.).

MORRIS TV FEATURE: A feature on Morris' accomplishment aired on KLKN-TV's (Lincoln ABC affiliate; channel 8) 6 p.m. newscast on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Watch the feature HERE.

Injury won't diminish Connie's placement among Bulldog basketball greats

20 FEB 2014

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

Two-time All-American guard Kristen Conahan entered her senior season poised to become the all-time leading scorer in the storied history of the Concordia women’s basketball program. Everything changed on Jan. 8 with “Connie” a mere 150 points away from the school record. On that night she writhed in pain, fearing her collegiate career may be over.

“Just to think that I was done with basketball – that was really tough,” Conahan said.

Other than breaking the scoring record, there wasn’t much left for the Omaha Millard North High School product to attain. She’s as accomplished as they come among women’s college basketball stars.

She’s been named a first team All-American, honorary captain of the Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska team and twice a first team all-conference selection. But none of that mattered during that moment that saw her lying on the court with an apparent ACL injury. She would have traded all those accolades just to have two healthy knees.

She could have given in, thrown in the towel and still gone down as one of the greatest players to ever wear the Bulldog jersey. It just wasn’t in her nature.

“Once she knew she could possibly play again then it was right back to work,” eighth-year head coach Drew Olson said. “She was in the training room 3-4 times a day doing whatever she needed to do to get back on the court.”

Conahan did in fact tear her ACL, but there was no additional damage. She would have to wait for a bone bruise to heal, but she could eventually come back if she was willing to gut it out. She spent the next few weeks wearing out the elliptical and the treadmill before returning to the court on Feb. 5.

She would go down again on Feb. 12 while trying to plant on that same knee. It was another setback that has put her back on the sideline, but not necessarily for good. It’s not safe to close the book on Conahan’s career just yet.

“I love basketball and I want to finish my career playing basketball, not sitting and watching my team,” Conahan said. “It’s really hard going to practice every day and just watching them. You can voice your opinion but you can’t physically help your teammates. I just really want to be out there.”

As a senior with 1,656 points and a program best 323 3-point field goals over 121 career games, Conahan has been there and done that. She’s won a GPAC championship, made it to the semifinals of the national tournament, where she’s appeared twice, and fueled two Concordia Invitational Tournament titles. She’s a winner whose presence alone demands respect.

“Connie just has a presence on the court that is hard to describe,” said backcourt teammate Bailey Morris. “Even if her minutes are limited, she scares teams. She can still shoot lights out and teams have to respect that. She might be in a knee brace but she's too much of a competitor to let that slow her down.”

Thus the importance of getting Conahan back on the court. The whole team exudes a greater confidence with No. 22 hoisting long range bombs. After all, the Bulldogs own a 50-9 GPAC mark in arguably the best NAIA Division II conference in the nation over the last three years.

When she plays well, Concordia is nearly unbeatable.

“She just gives us a calming presence,” Olson said. “She’s really good with her decision making with the ball. She stretches the defense out. They know she’s a great shooter and they have to honor her. She has that competitive greatness that all of her teammates feed off of. ‘Connie’s here, we’re going to be OK.’ She’s got that ‘it’ factor.”

The progression of Conahan has been remarkable. Overshadowed in high school by a teammate who went on to play at NCAA Division I University of Colorado, Conahan considered walking on at hometown University of Nebraska-Omaha and she also pondered an offer from Hastings College before choosing Concordia.

While at Millard North she was a streaky shooter still developing other aspects of her game. Olson saw plenty of potential in the prolific scoring guard he believed had all but moved on from Concordia at one point in the recruiting process.

It turned out that Concordia’s proximity to home and to her brother Matt, a University of Nebraska student at the time, was just right.

Once on campus, it didn’t take long for her to make an impact as a Bulldog. She averaged double figures in scoring and pilfered more than two steals per game as a freshman. She would soon prove that she was only getting started as she blossomed her sophomore year and led Concordia to a 34-3 record.

“She’s definitely exceeded expectations,” Olson said. “I thought she was going to be a really good shooter but I didn’t know that she would be such a tough defender, make really good decisions with the ball. I thought she was going to be really good, but I didn’t know she would be this good. She’s in the argument as one of the best players in our program history.”

Relegated to the bench by the same ACL injury, she sat and watched Concordia’s 89-78 victory over No. 3 Northwestern. Conahan later received a loud ovation from the Walz Arena crowd as part of Senior Day festivities on Feb. 15.

In a perfect world, Conahan would have been part of the victory and would have already been celebrated for becoming the top scorer in Bulldog women’s basketball history. You won’t get her to express any self pity, but her head coach gave a different take.

“I’m disappointed. I think she deserves it,” Olson said. “I think what she’s done in her four years definitely deserves some big recognition like that and I think she was definitely on her way to breaking the record. I’m disappointed even if she doesn’t say she is.”

Connie, a fierce competitor, hasn’t been able to hide the fact that she really doesn’t like sitting out. But even in the face of a major injury that put the second half of her senior year in jeopardy, she feels there is plenty of reason to be thankful.

“As soon as I heard it was just my ACL, that was a good thing compared to what it could have been,” Conahan said. “I was just happy and blessed that I got an opportunity to work to come back and play.”

No. 6 Bulldogs drop regular-season finale, claim share of GPAC title 

22 FEB 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Seventh-ranked Morningside completed the regular season unbeaten at home by rattling off an 86-77 win over the No. 6 Concordia women’s basketball team on Saturday. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs claimed a four-way share of the GPAC title thanks to Northwestern’s win over Hastings. It is the second conference regular-season title in three seasons for head coach Drew Olson’s program.

Concordia enters the postseason at 24-6 overall and 16-4 in GPAC play.

“We did a great job continuing to fight and putting ourselves in position,” Olson said. “It just felt like we were a cross country runner drafting behind hoping to sprint past at the finish line.”

A week after scoring a school record 45 points in a victory over No. 3 Northwestern, junior Bailey Morris struggled at times with her shot. The Morningside zone defense limited Morris to 7-for-23 shooting. However, the 5-foot-4 guard from Roseland, Neb., also added seven assists and five rebounds while nearly playing all 40 minutes.

Morningside (25-5, 16-4 GPAC) held a double digit lead for much of the second half, but Concordia made a late push and got the ball back down just 81-77 with 1:51 remaining. The 7-1 run for the Bulldogs was followed by a Lexi Ackerman 3-point play on the break that allowed the Mustangs to regain control.

While Concordia could not come through in its attempt to win the GPAC regular season outright, its 16-4 conference mark is particularly impressive given that starters Kristen Conahan and Jericca Pearson have missed a combined 24 games due to injury.

In the face of adversity, the Bulldogs rode Morris to an eight-game winning streak prior to Saturday’s loss.

“I hate losing,” Olson said. “I felt like we could have won today but you have to step back and consider what we were able to accomplish. A lot of people didn’t think we were capable of winning like we did with the injuries we had.

“We share it, but we are conference champions. I’m really proud of our team.”

The Mustangs, who had lost the previous five meetings with Concordia, made 7 of 10 first-half 3-pointers in building a 48-36 advantage at the break. The Bulldogs got within six early in the second half before Morningside pushed the lead back into double digits.

Freshman Becky Mueller served as a big reason why Concordia hung with Morningside on the road. Mueller tied a career high with 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field. She nailed 4 of 6 shots from beyond the arc in stating her case in the race for GPAC Freshman of the Year honors.

“Becky played great,” Olson said. “Bailey played OK. She did a good job of being aggressive for 40 minutes against an a tough team. We just need others to step up. We need Tracy (Peitz) to stay out of foul trouble and we have to have other players knock down shots.”

After trailing 21-9 in the early going, the Bulldogs came back to tie by way of a 14-2 run. Concordia then trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half before rallying late behind Morris and Mueller.

Ackerman led the way with 22 points for Morningside, which has won nine-straight games.

As the No. 4 seed, the Bulldogs will host fifth-seeded Midland (15-15, 11-9 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the first round of the GPAC tournament.

Seventh-ranked Concordia hosts Midland in Wednesday GPAC quarterfinal

25 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team begins its postseason push on Wednesday when it hosts Midland (15-15, 11-9 GPAC) at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs finished the regular season at 24-6 overall and 16-4 in conference play, tying for its second regular-season championship over the past three seasons.

Because of tiebreaker rules, Concordia slots into the No. 4 spot for tournament seeding purposes. The Warriors finished alone in fifth place.

Game info
-Walz Arena | Seward, Neb. | Wed., Feb. 26 | 7 p.m.
-Live webcast (Concordia Sports Network)
-Play-by-play: Frank Greene
-First 300 students will be admitted free of charge

Bulldogs dominate series vs. Midland
Head coach Drew Olson’s program has defeated Midland in 11-straight meetings dating back to January of 2009. The Warriors’ 75-71 win over the Bulldogs on Jan. 13, 2009 snapped a 14-game winning streak for Concordia in the series. Since the GPAC began with the 2000-01 season, the Bulldogs boast a record of 25-3 against their rival from Fremont. In addition, Midland has not won in Seward since December of 2000, a stretch of 13 meetings in a row.

However, this year’s first two matchups have been decided by a total of nine points with Concordia eking out a one-point victory in Seward on Feb. 12.

Last 10 meetings:
2/12/14 – Concordia 78-77 (Seward)
1/8/14 – Concordia 82-74 (Fremont)
1/16/13 – Concordia 80-49 (Fremont)
11/27/12 – Concordia 110-65 (Seward)
1/17/12 – Concordia 79-67 (Seward)
11/29/11 – Concordia 67-54 (Fremont)
1/19/11 – Concordia 63-62 (Seward)
11/23/10 – Concordia 81-72 (Fremont)
1/20/10 – Concordia 73-69 (Seward)
11/24/09 – Concordia 75-43 (Fremont) 

Concordia aims for program’s fourth GPAC tournament title
In the 13-year history of the GPAC women’s basketball tournament, Concordia holds an all-time record of 16-10 with three tournament titles. The most recent championship came in 2012 as the Bulldogs swept the conference regular-season and tournament titles. Additional GPAC postseason championships came in 2004 and 2005 under then head coach Todd Voss. Concordia has won the championship each of the three times it has advanced to the title game.

Olson, now in his eighth season as head coach, holds a GPAC tournament record of 8-6. He has advanced to the semifinals in six of his first seven seasons with the only tournament title appearance coming in 2012.

Wednesday’s game will be the first time the Bulldogs have met Midland in a conference tournament game.

Morris the ‘scoring machine’
KLKN-TV fittingly dubbed Bulldog point guard Bailey Morris a “scoring machine” during its feature last week on the 5-foot-4 point guard. Morris leads the GPAC in scoring at 19.2 points per game, an average that ranks as the best for a Concordia women’s basketball player since Shelly Poppe went for 19.3 per game in 1987-88. Over the last 11 games, Morris is averaging 23.5 points per game and has gone over 20 points in seven of those contests.

During that same stretch, the Roseland, Neb., native has posted two of the top five single-game scoring efforts in school history (see below). Her 45-point outburst in the Feb. 15 win over Northwestern broke Amber Kistler’s school record. Morris, who has 556 points on the season, has an outside shot of breaking Poppe’s program record of 664 points in a season (1986-87).

Most points, one game (Concordia history)
1. Bailey Morris – 45 (Feb. 15, 2014, Northwestern)
2. Amber Kistler – 37 (Feb. 8, 2012, Briar Cliff)
T3. Whitney Stichka – 35 (Feb. 17, 2007, Sioux Falls)
T3. Joe Bartels – 35 (1983-84 season)
T5. Bailey Morris – 34 (Feb. 8, 2014, Dakota Wesleyan)
T5. Whitney Stichka – 34 (Feb. 6, 2008, Midland)

Mueller states case for freshman honors

Freshman Becky Mueller equaled a career high with 23 points in Concordia’s loss at then No. 7 Morningside over the weekend. That performance boosted the Elkhorn, Neb., native’s season scoring average to 10.6, fourth best among GPAC freshmen (see below). Mueller has been a big reason why the Bulldogs have been able to overcome injuries to key players and win a GPAC title. She is shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point range while adding 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game. She has started all 30 games and has posted double-figure point totals on 17 occasions.

GPAC freshmen scoring leaders
1. Logan Wagner, Mount Marty – 12.8
2. Hanah Barnard, Doane – 11.8
3. Sammi Licari, Midland – 11.1
4. Becky Mueller, Concordia – 10.6
5. Lexi Ackerman, Morningside – 10.2

Scouting Midland
The Warriors have improved significantly compared to the past several seasons. Under first-year head coach Shawn Gilbert, Midland has won four games against ranked opponents, including victories over teams currently ranked sixth (Morningside) and 12th (College of Saint Mary). Midland has a tremendous backcourt duo of junior Jamilah Johnson (14.8 ppg) and freshman Sammi Licari (11.1 ppg). Gilbert’s squad will try to slow the Bulldogs down with a defensive team that ranks third in the GPAC in fewest points allowed per game (69.6).

Bulldog women's basketball thrill ride motors into GPAC semifinals

26 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The seventh-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team made just one field goal over the last 11 minutes of regulation, but oh was it a big one. Bulldog freshman Shelby Quinn drained a triple in the final seconds to force overtime and Concordia narrowly escaped with a 93-91 win over upset-minded Midland inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night.

The wild GPAC tournament quarterfinal victory pushed the Bulldogs to 25-6 overall. They will travel to Orange City, Iowa, to take on ninth-ranked Northwestern (25-4) in the semis at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“When it comes down to it, this team is tough,” Olson said. “This team continues to find ways to win. I’m really proud of them.”

It appeared late in regulation as if the Warriors were going to snatch a stunning come-from-behind victory. Fifth-seeded Midland (15-16) led by as many as four points in the last 30 seconds and possessed an 84-81 advantage with the clock south of 10 ticks. That’s when point guard Bailey Morris found Quinn on the right wing for the biggest shot of the night.

“I got the ball from Bailey and I turned and saw that she was down – man down, hand down,” Quinn said. “I hesitated a little and realized I was going to go for it. She had her hands down so I just shot it.”

Quinn, who made all seven of her points count on this night, pulled off another game-turning play in overtime by sneaking in for a steal with the contest tied 88-88 and 41 seconds left on the clock. Morris scored on the next possession and Concordia got a defensive stop to essentially seal a wacky win.

“We just trust each other,” Quinn said. “We trust each other whether you’re shooting or the one passing to the shooter. We have an all-around good team chemistry. We just know how to win together.”

A severe field goal drought of more than 11 minutes prior to Quinn’s 3-pointer nearly doomed the Bulldogs, who relinquished an early second-half lead of 21 points. Suddenly, Concordia struggled to score and the Midland star tandem of Jamilah Johnson (23 points) and Sammi Licari (20 points) kept on coming.

The Warriors used a 22-5 run, culminating with Dani Andersen’s trey, to claim their first lead of the second half (77-74 with 2:36 left). Midland seemed to seize momentum again in overtime by scoring the first four points.

But the battle-tested Bulldogs had been here before.

“This team has something special,” Olson said. “We’ve been in so many of these types of games, but they just know how to fight. They know how to stay in games. They’re a really confident group together. That’s what makes them special. They really believe in each other and enjoy playing with each other.”

With Morris (35 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals) facilitating seemingly every basket, the Bulldog offensive attack looked sharp through the opening of the second half. Morris’ bucket in the paint with 19:15 left in the game put Concordia ahead, 53-32. Midland’s ensuing 14-4 run foreshadowed the thrilling finish that was yet to come.

The 35 points from Morris (a game high that tied for the third-highest single-game output in school history) were backed by two other double-digit scorers. Freshman Becky Mueller had 16 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Junior Tracy Peitz added 12 points, seven rebounds, six steals, five assists and a block.

Morris and company shot 46.9 percent compared to 45.3 percent for Midland. The Bulldogs went 25-for-37 from the free throw line while the Warriors were 25-for-35 from the charity stripe.

Concordia has now won 12-straight meetings with Midland. In addition, Wednesday’s win gave the Bulldogs 25 on the season, marking the ninth time the program has reached that total in the past 13 years.

The Bulldogs’ meeting with No. 9 Northwestern on Saturday will mark the second-straight season the two teams have faced off in the GPAC semifinals. Last year the Red Raiders stole an 85-83 win from Concordia in Seward in a semifinal tilt. In two meetings this season, the home teams have held serve in both instances.

Northwestern upends Bulldogs in top 10 GPAC semifinal battle

1 MAR 2014

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – A razor-sharp Northwestern team greeted seventh-ranked Concordia in a GPAC tournament semifinal game in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon. For the second-straight season, the top-seeded Red Raiders (26-4) bounced the fourth-seeded Bulldogs from the conference tourney by carving out a 101-80 victory inside the Bultman Center.

With its top 10 national ranking, Concordia is a lock to make the national tournament for the 13th time in program history. Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad will take a 25-7 overall record to the national stage.

“I feel like Northwestern was a lot more prepared for us to play zone (compared to the previous meeting),” Olson said. “We didn’t execute the zone like we did last time. We hugged players as opposed to rotating and being able to guard multiple players.

“We weren’t ready to play.”

It did not take long for Northwestern to exercise control on its home floor. Behind sharpshooter Alli Engebretson, the Red Raiders led 21-7 just over five minutes into Saturday’s contest. Concordia never cut the deficit below 12 the rest of the way as the Red Raiders sizzled – 50.6-percent shooting – while limiting star junior guard Bailey Morris to 10 points.

Saturday’s battle of top-10 ranked teams marked the third meeting of the season between the two GPAC powers. It was a much different game than the one exactly two weeks earlier when Morris went off for a school record 45 points in driving the Bulldogs to an 89-78 win in Seward.

This time around Morris played only 18 minutes and fouled out with 9:10 left in the game. With their star saddled to the bench with foul trouble, the Bulldogs turned to freshman Becky Mueller, who got white hot in the second half. She tied a career high 23 points while going 6-for-10 from beyond the arc. It just wasn’t enough.

The Red Raiders led by as many as 30 points in the second half by busting up the Bulldog zone with big games from Engebretson (26 points, eight rebounds) and Samantha Kleinsasser (23 points, nine rebounds, three blocks). Kleinsasser’s work inside helped the Red Raiders pile up 40 points in the paint compared to only 26 for Concordia.

While Morris struggled to stay on the court, junior Tracy Peitz, who has dealt with foul issues at times this season, committed only one foul. Peitz put up 17 points and nine rebounds.

Off the bench, freshman Devin Edwards contributed eight points and Rachel Royuk added six, including a four-point play in the final minute. A total of 13 Bulldogs saw action.

Concordia shot 37.7 percent for the game. Northwestern, the top rebounding team in the GPAC, grabbed 51 boards compared to 44 for the Bulldogs.

The national tournament bracket will be released by the NAIA on Wednesday. Check back for complete coverage of Concordia’s seeding and opponent.

Morris and Peitz highlight group of six all-conference selections 

5 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – After tying for its second GPAC regular-season title in three years, the Concordia women’s basketball program dominated the league’s all-conference selections announced on Wednesday. Bailey Morris was tabbed the Hauff Mid-America Sports GPAC Player of the Year and Tracy Peitz garnered Hauff Mid-America Sports GPAC Defensive Player of the Year recognition.

Both Morris and Peitz were also named to the GPAC’s first team. In addition, four Bulldogs received honorable mention: senior Kristen Conahan, junior Kelsey Hizer, freshman Becky Mueller and junior Jericca Pearson.

Morris finished as the GPAC scoring leader with 19.4 points per game. She put the team on her back down the stretch, averaging 24.5 points over a 12-game period in the second half of the season. She also ranks second in the conference in assists (4.0) and fifth in steals (2.45). The native of Roseland, Neb., is the first Bulldog women’s basketball player to ever earn GPAC Player of the Year laurels.

On the other hand, Peitz’s selection as defensive player of the year marks the third-straight season that a Bulldog has claimed the honor (Katie Rich won back-to-back defensive awards for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons). Peitz, who hails from Hartington, Neb., is enjoying a breakout campaign with averages of 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.53 steals per game. She has been a major reason why Concordia has flustered its opponents into an average of 22.3 turnovers per game.

Conahan, who has missed 11 games due to injury, fell just short of second team all-conference recognition. The accomplished senior from Omaha, Neb., earned first team as both a sophomore and junior. She also collected first team All-America accolades last season. She is averaging 13.4 points while shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range.

Like Conahan, Pearson has been sidelined with a knee injury. In 16 games this season, the native of Gibbon, Neb., averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in what had been shaping up as a career best campaign.

Mueller has emerged as one of the top freshmen in the GPAC. She has started all 32 games and averages 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. The native of Elkhorn, Neb., shoots 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Hizer has played in 32 games (29 starts) as part of an increased role as a junior. The first-time all-conference honoree from Parker, Colo., contributes 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.

Head coach Drew Olson’s Bulldogs will return to action when they take the court at the national tournament held at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Concordia will learn its first-round seeding and matchup on Wednesday night.

Late-season scoring explosion carries Morris to GPAC Player of the Year honors 

5 MAR 2014

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.

Women's basketball draws No. 2 seed and first-round matchup with Olivet Nazarene 

5 MAR 2014

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.

NOTES:

  • 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.

Women's basketball set to take national tournament stage Wednesday morning

10 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia women’s basketball program will play its 31st all-time national tournament game when the ball tips off at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The matchup between the second-seeded Bulldogs and seventh-seeded Olivet Nazarene University will be the first game of the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships.

Game info

No. 8 Concordia vs. No. 25 Olivet Nazarene
Wednesday, March 12 | 8:30 a.m.
Sioux City, Iowa | Tyson Events Center
Live webcastWatchNAIA.com (fee required)
Live statsDakstats.com
Tickets: available at arena ticket office or viaTicketmaster.com
On-campus watch party: TLEC Auditorium (hosted by SLO)

Statistical breakdown

Concordia   Olivet Nazarene
82.3 (14th) OFF PPG 108.1 (1st)
73.7 (95th) DEF PPG 98.6 (131st)
.426 (28th) OFF FG% .389 (78th)
.424 (111th) DEF FG% .456 (129th)
.317 (45th) 3PT FG% .317 (45th)
7.1 (20th) 3PT FG/GM 17.1 (1st)
.716 (35th) FT% .703 (50th)
-0.1 (67th) REB +/- -6.3 (113th)
+6.0 (5th) TO +/- +8.7 (1st)
+8.6 (33rd) Scoring +/- +12.5 (18th)
12.1 (6th) SPG 21.6 (1st)
2.4 (60th) BPG 5.7 (5th)
.922 (22nd) AST/TO .876 (37th)


Individual statistical leaders

Concordia
Scoring: Bailey Morris – 19.4 ppg
Rebounding: Tracy Peitz – 6.0 rpg
Assists: Morris – 4.0 apg
Steals: Peitz – 2.53 spg
Blocks: Peitz – 0.5 bpg 

Olivet Nazarene
Scoring: Miranda Geever – 19.3 ppg
Rebounding: Malory Adam – 6.8 rpg
Assists: Geever – 4.9 apg
Steals: Geever – 4.0 spg
Blocks: Adam – 2.84 bpg

National tournament history

  • Concordia is making its 13th appearance at the national tournament in program history. 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.
  • 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)

Previous meeting with Olivet Nazarene

Wednesday’s game will mark the first meeting between Concordia and Olivet Nazarene since Nov. 12, 2004, when then head coach Todd Voss’ Bulldogs cruised to a 107-54 victory. Behind recent Concordia Hall of Fame inductee Kari Saving (20 points), the Bulldogs shot 56.5 percent while holding the Tigers to 22 percent. Saving was one of five Bulldogs to score in double figures.

The two teams have never played each other in a national tournament game.

Scouting Olivet Nazarene

Under second-year head coach Lauren Stamatis, Olivet Nazarene (22-10) employs a hyper up-tempo style that emphasizes shooting early in the shot clock and full court defensive pressure. The style lends to statistical extremes as the Tigers rank first among all 131 NAIA Division II programs in scoring, 3-point field goals per game, turnover margin and steals per game. On the other hand, Olivet Nazarene is last in the nation in scoring defense and 129th in field goal percentage defense.

The Tigers are led by Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference first team selection Miranda Geever, a senior guard who tops the team in scoring, assists and steals. Olivet Nazarene’s experienced backcourt also includes senior Liz Bart, the national leader with 141 3-point field goals. Even frontcourt standout Malory Adam shoots from distance (3.4 made 3-point field goals per game).

Outlook

It’s safe to say there will be plenty of scoring in a game that features two teams that rank in the top 15 nationally in points per game. Provided the Bulldogs handle the Olivet Nazarene press, there will be plenty of opportunities for Bailey Morris, the GPAC Player of the Year. Concordia will have had 10-straight days without a game by the time it plays on Wednesday, meaning Morris should be ready to play an entire 40 minutes if necessary. Even so, Drew Olson will need help from his bench in what figures to be a contest played a break-neck pace.

The Tigers and Bulldogs have three common opponents on their respective schedules. Olivet Nazarene dropped games against both Briar Cliff and Morningside but defeated Concordia-Ann Arbor. The Bulldogs are a combined 4-1 against those three teams.

Potential second-round matchups

The winner between Concordia and Olivet Nazarene will play either third-seeded Southwestern College (Kan.) (28-4) or sixth-seeded Eastern Oregon University (23-9) at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. No. 9-ranked Southwestern won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title with a perfect 18-0 league mark. No. 23 Eastern Oregon, a member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference, also won its regular-season titl

No. 25 Olivet Nazarene ousts Bulldogs in national tournament first round

12 MAR 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Blink and you probably missed a bucket – or a turnover – in the Concordia University women’s basketball first-round national tournament loss early Wednesday morning. Against seventh-seeded Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), an up-tempo team to the max, the second-seeded Bulldogs fell, 91-86, at the 2014 State-Farm NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships.

The Bulldogs (25-8), making their sixth national tournament appearance in head coach Drew Olson’s eight years, exited the tournament in the first round for the second-straight year.

While Concordia put up 86 points, the things it didn’t do cost it a chance to play on Friday in the second round. The Bulldogs were held to 37.6 percent shooting, they turned it over 31 times and they shot only 56 percent (14-for-25) from the free throw line.

“We didn’t have the toughness to win today,” Olson said. “We missed a ton of layups. We missed free throws. Down the stretch we settled for threes. Offensively we weren’t ready to handle them.”

Olson and his squad knew they would be taking on an unfamiliar style patterned after the Grinnell College (Iowa) men’s basketball team. Even with about a week to prepare, the adjustment proved to be a difficult one versus a Tiger team that led the nation in scoring coming into action.

“We turned the ball over a lot in the first half due to not being used to their style,” Olson said. “Once we got used to it we took care of the ball a little bit better, but we never really took advantage of what they did. We had spurts where we would maybe tie or take the lead for a little bit, but we didn’t have the composure to keep the lead and extend it.”

Bulldog junior point guard Bailey Morris played only 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. She managed to foul only once in the second half but she struggled with her shot, going 5-for-19 from the field. Morris, the GPAC Player of the Year, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Morris was part of a solid defensive effort. Olivet Nazarene (23-10) shot only 33.8 percent, turned it over 27 times and its 91 points were 17 below its season average. The Bulldogs also held a slight 59-55 edge on the boards.

Concordia looked like it may be on the verge of taking control when it began the second half on a 10-0 run. Morris fueled the spurt with eight quick points, including a triple that put the Bulldogs up 53-50 – their first lead of the game. The Tigers roared right back with a 14-0 run.

Olivet Nazarene eventually broke an 82-82 tie in the final three minutes with a Taylor Hames back-breaking 3-pointer. Second-year head coach Lauren Stamatis’ squad led from that point on.

“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Stamatis said. “We talk a lot about continuing to play through the circumstances we’re faced with. We knew they were going to go on some runs.

“They just continued to play our game and I’m just so proud of the way they played it.”

Olivet Nazarene led by as many as 10 points in the first half and again by as many as eight points in the second half. The Tigers did so despite making only 8 of 43 attempts from long range. That rough shooting effort was combatted by a big performance from Cortney Allenbaugh (22 points and seven rebounds) off the bench.

Crucial in the loss was a five-minute stretch in the second half in which Concordia failed to score. After extending their lead to 56-50 with 17:23 left, the Bulldogs did not score again until Kelsey Hizer’s layup with 12:11 remaining.

Hizer finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Junior Tracy Peitz totaled a game high 23 points to go along with eight rebounds and four steals. Freshman Becky Mueller added 19 points and nine rebounds.

Four Tigers finished in double figures in scoring, topped by Allenbaugh’s 22.

While the loss stings, Concordia shared the GPAC regular-season title in a season that could have been derailed by the rash of injuries it experienced. The Bulldogs played without two-time All-American Kristen Conahan and Jericca Pearson on Wednesday and throughout most of the second half of the season.

“I had a great time with this team. That’s what hurts so bad,” Olson said. “What they did second semester – they have a lot to be proud of. That’s why I felt like this team deserved to continue on. Without Conahan and Pearson, a lot people didn’t think we would get to the national tournament.”

Looking ahead to 2014-15, Olson will bring back the bulk of his varsity roster. Conahan and fellow seniors Britney Birtell and Lori Laboda will depart.

Peitz and Royuk earn scholar-athlete honors

17 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Juniors Tracy Peitz and Rachel Royuk represented the Concordia University women’s basketball team on the list of 2013-14 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, released Monday by the NAIA. Peitz and Royuk have received the honor for the first time in their careers.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status.

Peitz, a native of Hartington, Neb., is on a pre-dentistry track and is majoring in biology. Royuk, who hails from Seward, is studying secondary education.

Concordia ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 962 and counting. (This figure includes all 41 Concordia scholar-athletes announced for the fall season). During the 2012-13 academic year, Concordia had 71 Scholar-Athletes and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams.

A total of 243 NAIA Division II women’s basketball student-athletes across the nation were named 2013-14 scholar-athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Neb., that currently serves over 2,200 students. Concordia offers more than 50 professional and liberal arts programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world.

GPAC Player of the Year Morris nets first team All-America honors; Peitz placed on third team

19 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Two weeks after being named the GPAC Player of the Year, Concordia women’s basketball standout Bailey Morris has been tabbed a 2013-14 NAIA Division II First Team All-American. GPAC Defensive Player of the Year Tracy Peitz graces the third team All-America list. The announcement, made by the NAIA on Wednesday, marks the third-straight year a Bulldog has been placed on the first team.

Morris was also named NAIA honorable mention All-America (both divisions combined) by the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (WBCA) on Tuesday night.

A native of Roseland, Neb., Morris set career high per-game averages in 2013-14 with 19.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 32 games. The 5-foot-4 junior point guard will enter her senior season ranked 11th in school history with 1,389 career points. She stands 411 off of Sarah Harrison’s program record of 1,800 points.

As far as single-game scoring performances, Morris produced three games as a junior that rank in the top five in school history. Her 45 points in Concordia’s win over No. 3 Northwestern on Feb. 15 were a school record. She also posted point totals of 35 and 34 and 20 or more in a total of 14 contests.

Peitz also enjoyed a career year, averaging 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.58 steals and 2.4 assists while starting all 33 games. The native of Hartington, Neb., also named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete on Monday, posted career high shooting percentages of 51.3 from the field, 36.0 from 3-point range and 62.8 from the free throw line.

Morris joins Kristen Conahan (2013) and Amber Kistler (2012) as Concordia first team All-Americans over the past three seasons. Morris and Peitz are the 12th and 13th players in school history to be named either first, second or third team. Of those 13, Conahan (2012 and 2013), Whitney Stichka (2008 and 2009) and Tricia Kindle (1992 and 1993) have all been named All-Americans twice.

Women's basketball finishes 2013-14 at No. 13 in national poll

27 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – For the 39th-straight poll, the Concordia women’s basketball program found itself placed among the nation’s top 25 teams. The postseason edition of the coaches’ poll, released Wednesday by the NAIA, slotted the Bulldogs in a tie at No. 13.

Eighth-year head coach Drew Olson’s program has now been ranked in every NAIA Division II national poll since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. During that stretch, Concordia has held down a top five spot in 18 rankings, including four-straight No. 1 appearances to begin the 2012-13 season. The Bulldogs had a streak of 37-straight top 10 rankings until landing 13th this week.

Ranked No. 8 prior to the national tournament, Concordia fell five spots following a first-round exit from the national championships. The 2013-14 season marked the Bulldogs’ third-straight national tournament appearance and sixth over the past seven years.

With Bailey Morris and the rest of a solid junior class leading the way for next year’s team, Olson expects a return trip to the national tournament and a longer stay in Sioux City, Iowa.

“I know this program will continue to strive for the ultimate goal of a national title,” Olson said. “With the return of GPAC player of the year Bailey Morris, GPAC defensive player of the year Tracy Peitz, all-GPAC honorable mentions Kelsey Hizer and Becky Mueller, along with other returners and another strong recruiting class, I know we have a chance at achieving that goal.”

Women's basketball signs seven student-athletes as part of 2014-15 class

10 APR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Head coach Drew Olson and the Concordia University women’s basketball program have officially announced the signings of seven student-athletes for the class of 2014-15. All seven are current high school seniors from the state of Nebraska.

The group of incoming freshmen, heavy on guard play, will combine with an existing roster stocked with eight varsity holdovers who averaged more than 10 minutes per game in 2013-14. This past season’s roster included only three seniors: Britney Birtell, Kristen Conahan and Lori Laboda.

Incoming guards Mary Janovich and Jade Gottier bring impressive credentials. Janovich averaged 15.2 points as a senior on the way to Class B first team all-state recognition while leading Gretna High School to the state tournament. Gottier put up almost 17 points per game for Boone Central High School and earned second team all-state in Class C-1.

Platteview High School’s Sydney Feller also helped her team to a state tournament appearance. All seven incoming Bulldogs received some form of all-state recognition from both the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star.

Jordyn Brummund | Doniphan-Trumball HS | 5-5 |Guard
2013-14 stats: 10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.7 spg, 52% 3FG
Honors: All-state honorable mention by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Gritty and scrappy. Lefty point guard. Very quick and can create for others. Tough kid.

Brenleigh Daum | McCook HS | 5-9 Guard
2013-14 stats: 16.9 ppg, 2.9 apg
Honors: all-state honorable mention by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Feisty. She is a tough kid. Good athlete. Can score. Lots of potential.

Sydney Feller | Platteview HS | 5-9 Guard
2013-14 stats: 10.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.1 spg, 38% 3FG
Honors: All-state honorable mention by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Good athlete. Really improved her offensive game this past year. She is a tough kid that finds ways to win.

Jade Gottier | Boone Central / Newman Grove HS | 5-9Guard
2013-14 stats: 16.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 3.4 spg, 44% 3FG, 91% FT
Honors: Class C-1 second team all-state by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Great player, even better person. She plays extremely hard and is active defensively. On offense she can score in many ways, but her best attribute is her vision and passing.

Rachel Hoarty | Fillmore Central HS | 5-9 Guard
2013-14 stats: 16.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.7 spg, 32% 3FG
Honors: All-state honorable mention by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Great athlete. Very talented. Level-headed kid. Could be an even better player in our system.

Mary Janovich | Gretna HS | 5-7 Guard
2013-14 stats: 15.2 ppg, 39% 3FG, 88% FT
Honors: Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska third team, Omaha World Herald All-State Class B first team, Lincoln Journal Star All-State Class B first team, Omaha World Herald All-Omaha Area first team and honorary team captain
Olson: Phenomenal athlete. One of the best defenders I have ever recruited. She is a tough kid, always comes up big in the big moments.

Michaela Strathman | Randolph HS | 5-11 Forward
2013-14 stats: 12.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
Honors: All-state honorable mention by Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star
Olson: Good size and can shoot. Injured at end of season so will need to get healthy but could be an impact in the future.

Morris named OWH honorary captain; Peitz, Conahan also tabbed All-Nebraska

20 APR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Wrote the Omaha World-Herald, “On what Concordia coach Drew Olson called a great basketball team, none had to ride to the rescue like Bailey Morris.” On Sunday the news outlet named Morris honorary captain of its NAIA All-Nebraska women’s basketball team.

The Omaha World-Herald also named Morris and fellow junior Tracy Peitz to the NAIA all-Nebraska first team. Senior Kristen Conahan, despite missing 12 games, received second team all-Nebraska. Freshman Becky Mueller reeled in honorable mention.

The announcement swells the list of honors for Morris (Clay Center, Neb.), who was the GPAC player of the year, a first team All-American and a four-time GPAC player of the week in 2013-14. She averaged 19.3 points, 4.2 rebonds, 4.1 assists and 2.44 steals per contest while leading the Bulldogs to a GPAC regular-season title and berth in the national tournament.

Morris took on a massive role down the stretch and etched her name into the school record book with 45 points in an 89-78 win over then No. 3 Northwestern on Feb. 15.

“She went from we need you to play 25 to we need you to play 40, take over ball-handling responsibility and score even more,” Olson told the Omaha World-Herald. “I think she was scoring 15 or 16 at the time. She probably averaged 24 or 25 when Connie was out.”

Peitz (Hartington, Neb.), also the GPAC defensive player of the year and a third team All-American, started all 33 games and averaged 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.58 steals and 2.4 assists per game in a breakout season.

In Conahan’s final year, she averaged 13.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal. The Omaha native finishes her career sixth in program history with 1,656 points. Her 323 career 3-point field goals are most all-time for any Bulldog women’s basketball player.

Mueller (Elkhorn, Neb.) enjoyed a stellar freshman season. She started all 33 games and averaged 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.0 steal and 0.5 blocks.

Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska Women’s Basketball Teams
First Team
G Bailey Morris, Concordia, 19.3
G Jamie Van Kirk, Hastings, 18.2
C Deaundra Young, CSM, 18.1
F Tracy Peitz, Concordia, 13.8
G Jamilah Johnson, Midland, 15.0

Second Team
F Hannah Dostal, Doane, 14.5
G Cami Bruckman, Hastings, 15.9
G Akia Davis, CSM, 14.2
G Kristen Conahan, Concordia, 13.4
G Shelbie Hess, Peru State, 15.6

Honorary captain: Morris

Honorable mention: Tiffani Lewis, Jamee Miner, Amanda Woodring, College of St. Mary; Becky Mueller, Concordia; Shelbi Bittinger, Heather Broman, Doane; Jenna Henderson, Grace; Laurel Zwiener, Hastings; Sammi Licari, Midland; Bridget Bucher, Courtney Cook, Felicia TeKolste, Nebraska Wesleyan; Brittany Peterson, Karlee Stuart, Peru State; Cory Minjarez, York College.

Harms steps away from roles on women's basketball staff and in strength and conditioning 

29 MAY 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Amy Harms officially announced on Wednesday that she will step away from her roles as Concordia University women’s basketball assistant coach and strength and conditioning coordinator. She will remain a part-time health and human performance instructor at Concordia.

Harms cites family reasons for the decision. She and her husband Nolan recently welcomed a daughter into the world.

“I’m grateful that I’ve been able to devote my time and energy to working with athletes in my career for the last eight years,” Harms said. “With the addition of our daughter Nevaeh, it is a good time for me to focus on being a wife and a mom. I know that I would not be able to give the athletes my best efforts and be the best mom I can be at the same time. I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to come back to Concordia after having a great student-athlete experience here myself.”

Harms has served as the women’s basketball program’s top assistant for all eight years of current head coach Drew Olson’s tenure. She also spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons working for then head coach Todd Voss. During Harms’ 10 years on staff, the Bulldogs went 250-88 with eight national tournament appearances and three GPAC regular-season titles.

“I want to thank Amy for her time, energy, and love that she poured into Concordia University and the women’s basketball program,” Olson said. “She is an incredibly strong Christian role model for our players. She has had a huge impact on me as a coach and I know she impacted hundreds during her service at CU. She will be missed, but thankfully, I know she will still be around the team, giving the love and support to her Bulldogs.”

In addition, Harms spent nearly six years as Concordia’s head men’s and women’s tennis coach, leading the women to an overall record of 53-33 and the men to a mark of 49-43. She was named the GPAC women’s tennis coach of the year in 2008.

The position of assistant women’s basketball coach (including duties as game/event manager for baseball and weight room supervisor) is now open. Details on the position are available here:http://cune.applicantpro.com/jobs/103750.html.

More thoughts from Coach Harms:

It’s been a privilege to work with Drew for so many years. I have a deep respect for him and his determination to continue the success of Concordia women’s basketball. His desire to study the game, his effort to improve his players, and his decision-making in games set him apart. He always showed confidence and respect for me as his assistant.    

With basketball, some were banner years, but each year has its own special memories regardless. It was so good to get to know the players and families that have come through. I still talk to my teammates and players that I have coached, so those connections are always there no matter what your involvement. Although it won’t quite be the same closeness not being involved in the daily activities, I hope to stay close to the program. I am glad I’ll be around campus and still can experience first-hand the energy and excitement that is going on in Bulldog athletics.