SEWARD, Neb. – If you’re not going to bring your ‘A’ game into Walz Arena, you’re going to get run right out of the gym by this Concordia University women’s basketball team. After the opening weekend of the 2017-18 season, it’s quite clear that the Bulldogs have another team capable of making big time noise. In Saturday’s (Nov. 4) action at the 18th annual Cattle Classic, Concordia motored past fifth-ranked University of St. Francis (Ill.), 96-67.
For the second day in a row, 12th-year head coach Drew Olson mixed and matched by using the entire roster to great success. Olson’s squad dominated the Cattle Classic, winning its two games by a combined score of 197-110.
“St. Francis played really well at the beginning. They did a great job breaking our zone the first few possessions and got the lead early,” Olson said. “I was really proud of how we responded. We went on a big run with our pace and having kids step up and hit big shots, especially Brenleigh (Daum). She was phenomenal today.”
What makes this weekend even scarier is the fact that the Bulldogs are playing without GPAC defensive player of the year Mary Janovich (held out due to injury). That simply gave Concordia the opportunity to showcase its well-stocked artillery. On this day, Daum came off the bench and tore it up, going for 18 points while draining five shots from beyond the arc.
Also off the bench, freshman Taylor Cockerill again made herself comfortable. She posted a line of 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists and earned All-Cattle Classic honors along with teammate Quinn Wragge. The steady Wragge posted 13 points in Friday’s blowout of Viterbo and then added 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals on Saturday. The array of talent creates matchup nightmares for opponents.
“It’s a lot of fun (playing this style),” Cockerill said. “I came for the CIT tournament (last season) and that was like, ‘Wow.’ That was a huge eye opener. It’s so fun to play this style where everyone’s always looking out for each other. We just work together as a team. It’s great.”
The Fighting Saints (0-2), smarting from a 63-61 upset loss to Doane on Friday, gained a very early 5-1 lead. It was short-lived. Less than five minutes into the game, Concordia had already come roaring back to gain a double-digit lead. A trey by Daum to beat the first quarter buzzer provided a 28-17 advantage. St. Francis never got back within single digits and the margin ballooned to 32 (60-28) by halftime.
Sydney Feller (11 points, four assists) joined Daum, Cockerill and Wragge in double figures in the scoring column. The Bulldogs shot 50.8 percent (30-for-59) overall and 38.7 percent (12-for-31) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, St. Francis shot a respectable 44.4 percent (24-for-54), but committed 26 turnovers. The Fighting Saints were paced by the 18 points from Kaitlin Aylward.
The first road tests of the 2017-18 season are coming up next week with a trip up to North Dakota. Another contest against a top 10 team will take place when the Bulldogs play at No. 9 University of Jamestown next Friday (Nov. 10). Concordia will also be at Mayville State University (N.D.) (just outside the top 25) the following day (Nov. 11).
All-Cattle Classic Team
Adriana Acosta, St. Francis
Taylor Cockerill, Concordia
McKenna Dodd, Doane
Alyssa Nilssen, Viterbo
Quinn Wragge, Concordia