ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Up against an improved Concordia-Chicago squad in the opening game of the 2015 Concordia Invitational Tournament, the third-ranked Bulldog women’s basketball team rolled to a 102-66 victory inside Cardinal Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon. The Cougars never figured out Tracy Peitz, who starred on both ends of the floor in moving CUNE a step closer to back-to-back CIT titles.
In the process, the Bulldogs extended their win streak to 17, marking the second longest under ninth-year head coach Drew Olson, who has led the Bulldogs to five CIT trophies in his first eight seasons. CUNE moved to 22-1 overall and 11-0 away from home.
“I thought we played hard, but it was pretty sloppy (59 combined turnovers) for most of the game,” Olson said. “Our turnovers were a little too high. I don’t know if it was from playing Wednesday and then having a long trip or the excitement of CIT. We weren’t sharp, but hopefully we’ll be better tomorrow.”
Not only did CUC have few answers for Peitz (20 points, 9-for-12 from the field), it struggled versus the Bulldogs’ nasty, in-your-face defensive pressure. The Bulldogs forced another 35 turnovers while holding the Cougars to 33.9 percent shooting in making for an anticlimactic CIT opener.
All 15 Bulldogs saw action with 14 of them registering in the scoring column. Peitz led a group of five double-figure scorers that included Bailey Morris (13), Becky Mueller (12), Mary Janovich (11) and Laurel Krohn (10). Jericca Pearson came off the bench and posted nine points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Concordia’s deep bench outscored the Cougar reserves by a margin of 42-18.
Janovich was part of the pesky performance that resulted in 23 steals. Janovich, Morris, Pearson and Peitz all turned in three or more thefts. Said Janovich, “Everybody on this team likes defense.”
In her first appearance on at the energized CIT, Janovich sank 5 of 6 shots despite some nerves early on.
“To be honest, I was pretty scared in the beginning,” said the Gretna, Neb., native. “I just got rid of the nerves and came out and played.”
Janovich helped CUNE reach the 100-point mark for the sixth time this season by converting a turnover into two points and then drilling a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 95-63 with 2:33 left. The Bulldogs hit the century mark when sophomore Alayna Daberkow made a pair of free throws in the final minute in putting the finishing touches on the team’s 17th win by 10 points or more.
Sophomore Becky Mueller boosted the Bulldogs to their first double-digit lead at the 10:29 mark of the first half with a feathery trey. Powered by Morgan Jahnke (game high 22 points), CUC got back within six in the first half, but CUNE grew the lead to 15 by halftime and held an advantage of 12 or more the remainder of the game.
While Morris went 5-for-18 from the field two days after becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer, she dazzled the crowd by rising high for a block and then later whipping a pass behind the back to Peitz for two on a run out. She totaled seven assists and six rebounds.
The CIT trophy has called Seward home after 23 of the past 28 annual tournaments. The Bulldogs will shoot for their 25th all-time CIT title when they take the court at 5 p.m. EST on Saturday. CUNE will face the winner between Concordia-Wisconsin (14-4) and host Concordia-Ann Arbor (3-19). The Bulldogs defeated both teams last season on the way to claiming the CIT trophy in Mequon, Wis.
“Hopefully there’s a big crowd and hopefully there’s a lot of energy,” Olson said. “From today’s mistakes I think we learned, regardless of the situation, we have to play relaxed and play our game. I think (Saturday’s game) is great for us as we continue to play in bigger games.”