SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University women’s basketball team is one win away from returning to the NAIA Division II national championship game for the second time in three years. A national semifinalist for the fifth time in program history, the second-ranked Bulldogs (34-2) have No. 3 Saint Xavier University (Ill.) (33-2) standing in their way.
Monday’s semifinal matchup between Concordia and Saint Xavier is scheduled to tip off at 8:04 p.m. CT from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The game will be televised on ESPN3.com. Tyler Cavalli and Devin Smith will also call the action live on 104.9 Max Country radio.
“It’s great to be in the final four,” said 11th-year head coach Drew Olson following Saturday’s 74-59 quarterfinal win over 10th-ranked University of Jamestown (N.D.). “We’re going to keep the same mindset of staying focused on the next day.”
The Bulldogs took the floor at the Tyson Events Center Sunday afternoon for a light practice session. Concordia and the other semifinalists have the day off. The two remaining squads on the other side of the bracket are No. 1 University of St. Francis (Ill.) (34-1) and No. 4 Marian University (Ind.) (33-3). Those two teams will go head-to-head immediately prior to Concordia’s game.
The Bulldogs have been as impressive as anyone through the first three rounds of the national tournament. In addition to the win over Jamestown, Concordia’s path to the semifinals has included victories over Bryan College (Tenn.), 101-66, and No. 18 Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.), 75-56. Bulldog national tournament opponents are shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and have committed 74 turnovers.
Jamestown head coach Greg Ulland was effusive in his praise of the Bulldogs, GPAC regular season and tournament champions.
“They do such a good job,” Ulland said. “They’re deep. They’re strong. They’re athletic. (Drew’s) got a great, great time right there. I wish them all the best. They’re really, really good.
“You could see it. Our kids every once in a while are like, ‘Shoot, here comes another five’ – and there’s no drop off. He plays 15 kids that are all legitimately worthy of playing time.”
Following a season-long theme of balance, Concordia has had a different leading scorer in each of its three games on the national stage. Dani Andersen poured in 18 points in the win over Bryan, Philly Lammers had 20 points and 14 rebounds versus Cardinal Stritch and Quinn Wragge posted 16 points and nine boards against Jamestown.
Named GPAC freshman of the year, Lammers has shown no sign of nervousness in her first taste of the national tournament. She’s averaging 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds during her stay in Sioux City.
“She’s very special and very unique to be that athletic as a post player,” Olson said. “It really allows us to do a lot of things, especially on the defensive end. She’s a matchup nightmare on both ends.”
Monday’s semifinal tilt figures to feature a high number of possessions between two exceptionally up-tempo squads. The Cougars, champion of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, rank second nationally in scoring offense at 91.7 points per game. Saint Xavier can also play defense. It held No. 7 College of the Ozarks to 53 points and 26.0 percent shooting in another of Saturday’s quarterfinal battles.
In that victory, Brittany Collins put forth a beastly performance that included 21 points and 23 rebounds. She adds the punch inside and junior guard Kara Krolicki supplies firepower from the perimeter. Tabbed the CCAC player of the year, Krolicki is averaging 21.7 points per game and went over 2,000 career points this past week. She dropped 29 points in the 96-66 second-round win over Friends University (Kan.). Like Concordia, the Cougars have rolled through the national championships. The victory over Friends was sandwiched in between wins over Indiana University Kokomo, 100-61, and College of the Ozarks, 69-53.
The strength of 17th-year head coach Bob Hallberg’s group is its backcourt, which also includes standouts Maddie Welter (12.7 ppg) and Mikayla Leyden (12.4 ppg).
“I thought we matched up pretty well,” Hallberg told the Sioux City Journal after his team’s win over the Lady Bobcats. “We're not a really big team except for our post player and we're not a physical team and they're not either. With guards vs. guards tonight there were a lot of good matchups where we were able to stick on their guards with our quickness. I thought we got a little tired late in the game, but it was a good matchup for us. We're very good if a team is guard oriented.”
Concordia and Saint Xavier last met on Nov. 7, 2014, at the Cattle Classic hosted inside Walz Arena in Seward. The Bulldogs won that matchup, 81-64. The two sides have never met at the national tournament. The Cougars are making their first-ever appearance in the national semifinals.
Concordia also put together Fab Four runs in 2003, 2005, 2012 and 2015. The first two were led by head coach Todd Voss. Olson has been at the controls for the other three semifinal advancements.
The winners of Monday’s semifinal games will meet in the championship game at 7:04 p.m. CT on Tuesday. That contest will also be shown on ESPN3.
G – Shelby Quinn: 6.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 spg, .347 fg%, .778 ft%
G – Dani Andersen: 8.9 ppg, 1.6 spg, 1.6 apg, 1.2 rpg, .375 fg%, .345 3-pt fg%
G – Mary Janovich: 10.8 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, 2.3 spg, .526 fg%, .446 3-pt fg%
F – Quinn Wragge: 11.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 spg, .566 fg%, .739 ft%
F – Philly Lammers: 13.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.1 spg, 1.3 bpg, .567 fg%, .780 ft%
Saint Xavier (33-2)
G – Mikayla Leyden: 12.4 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.5 rpg, 2.4 spg, .576 fg%, .424 3-pt fg%
G – Kara Krolicki: 21.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.6 rpg, 2.2 spg, .493 fg%, .468 3-pt fg%
G – Maddie Welter: 12.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 spg, .479 fg%, .480 3-pt fg%
G – Chanel Fanter: 9.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 spg, .492 fg%, .426 3-pt fg%
C – Brittany Collins: 14.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.2 bpg, 1.4 spg, .639 fg%, .721 ft%
*National rank in parentheses
Offensive PPG: 84.6 (4th)
Field Goal % Offense: .440 (14th)
Defensive PPG: 59.9 (17th)
Field Goal % Defense: .351 (5th)
Turnover +/-: +8.9 (4th)
3-pt FG/Game: 8.8 (9th)
Rebound +/-: +4.7 (27th)
Offensive PPG: 91.7 (2nd)
Field Goal % Offense: .490 (2nd)
Defensive PPG: 62.3 (33rd)
Field Goal % Defense: .344 (2nd)
Turnover +/-: +6.5 (7th)
3-pt FG/Game: 12.3 (2nd)
Rebound +/-: +1.9 (59th)