Bulldogs headed to Park City as opening round No. 1 seed

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 4, 2021 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – The brackets are now set as Concordia University Women’s Basketball prepares for the 20th national tournament appearance in program history. Head Coach Drew Olson will take his team to Park City, Kan., for the opening round. As the No. 1 seed in Park City Bracket B, the Bulldogs will have a bye before playing the winner between No. 2 seed Loyola University New Orleans and No. 3 seed Langston University (Okla.).

Loyola and Langston will go head-to-head on March 12. Concordia is set to open up its national tournament on March 13 at a time to be announced. All games in the Park City Bracket will take place at Hartman Arena. The complete schedule can be viewed HERE.

The Bulldogs (20-8) earned an automatic bid to the national tournament as the GPAC postseason runner up. The field is made up of 48 teams (37 automatic and 11 at-large qualifiers). The at-large bids were determined by the Women’s Basketball National Selection Committee. This committee consists of one representative from each geographical area and six at-large members. The 16 teams to emerge from the opening round will advance to play at the final site – the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, March 18-23.

This marks the first year under the new national tournament format. The NAIA shifted from two divisions to one beginning with the 2020-21 season. In the future, the tournament will feature 64 teams, meaning there will be no byes in the opening round. Despite the change in format, the Tyson Events Center remains the hopeful final destination for each of the qualifiers.

Loyola (20-1) gained entry into the tournament by winning the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament. Meanwhile, Langston (8-7) qualified via its Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament runner-up claim. Concordia is the No. 16 overall seed in the tournament while Loyola is 19th and Langston is 39th.

More details regarding specific game times, fan attendance policies and live streaming will be disseminated when available. The women’s basketball page of the NAIA website serves as an additional resource.

National tournament historical facts

·        In its first 19 appearances at the national championships, Concordia has posted a record of 35-17 with seven journeys to at least the national semifinals (three national championship game appearances). The Bulldogs are 13-6 in first-round games. All of the program’s national tournament berths have come since 1992 – the same year the NAIA split into two divisions for basketball. The 2019-20 season marked the final one featuring two divisions. The 2019-20 squad had garnered the No. 1 overall seed in a tournament that was shut down in the middle of the first round.

·        Seven of the 15 players on Concordia’s national tournament roster have prior national tournament experience. That list includes Taylor Cockerill, Taylor Farrell, Rebecca Higgins, Mackenzie Koepke, Averie Lambrecht, Rylee Pauli and Chloe Schumacher. Cockerill has the most national tournament game experience having been part of runs to the national championship game in both 2018 and 2019. In 10 career national tournament games, Cockerill has totaled 90 points with a single game high of 26 in the second round of the 2019 tournament versus Cardinal Stritch. In the next round (quarterfinals) in 2019, Koepke poured in 15 points in a victory over Indiana Tech. Koepke has 40 career points at the national tournament to her credit.

·        Head Coach Drew Olson has been at the controls for each of Concordia’s past 13 national tournament appearances (including 2021). His record at the national tournament now stands at 24-10 with five trips to the final four, including three national championship game appearances (2015, 2018, 2019). The program raised its first-ever national championship banner in March 2019. Olson has won more national tournament games than any coach in school history (men’s or women’s programs).

·        During the 2020-21 regular season, the Bulldogs went up against four fellow national tournament qualifiers: Carroll College (Mont.), Dakota State University (S.D.), Morningside and Northwestern (total of eight games versus national qualifiers). Concordia defeated Northwestern three times while falling short against the other three opponents. However, it lost twice by two points to Morningside. Carroll and Dakota State both took part in the Cattle Classic (Nov. 5-7) at the beginning of the season.

·        Olson became the program’s fifth coach to lead Concordia to the national tournament when he made his first appearance in 2008. Past coaches to take the Bulldogs to nationals were Todd Voss (three), Mark Lemke (two), Micah Parker (one) and Carl Everts (one). Voss guided two squads that reached the national semifinals.