Bulldogs semifinal bound for fifth time in program history

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 11, 2017 in Women's Basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University women’s basketball team continues to take the national championships by storm with its signature depth and pressure. The Bulldogs deployed their usual assembly line while suffocating 10th-ranked University of Jamestown (N.D.) in a 74-59 national quarterfinal win inside the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon.

Eleventh-year head coach Drew Olson will take Concordia to the Fab Four for the third time in his coaching tenure and for the second time in three years. It will mark the fifth all-time national semifinal appearance for the program. The Bulldogs are now 34-2 overall (two wins off the school single-season record).

Concordia’s defense has been filthy on the national stage. A day after piling up 36 points in Jamestown’s second-round win over second-seeded Davenport University (Mich.), Taylor Hammer fouled out with a mere two points. The only Jimmie to put a dent in the Bulldog zone was McKayla Orr, who had 21 points and went 5-for-11 from 3-point range.

“I was really proud of how focused they were,” Olson said. “The key to that game I felt like was limiting those three guards for Jamestown. They’re so quick. We just had to be able to keep them in front of us. They got behind us at times and kicked out for some threes, but overall that was the biggest job that we did.”

The Jimmies shot only 30.2 percent (19-for-63) for the game though they limited their turnover count to a respectable figure of 16. The 3-pointers were the only thing that allowed Jamestown to hang around in the early stages of the fourth quarter. Orr and Kyra Dewald delivered on back-to-back treys to open up the final frame. What had been a 16-point Bulldog lead was trimmed down to eight (56-48) with under nine minutes left in the game.

But Concordia and its seemingly endless waves of talent always had an answer. It allowed the Jimmies just three field goals over the closing nine minutes and quickly built the lead up to 14 (64-50) behind back-breaking treys from Devin Edwards and Mary Janovich.

“They do such a good job,” said Jamestown head coach Greg Ulland. “They’re deep. They’re strong. They’re athletic. (Drew’s) got a great, great team 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.”

The frontcourt duo of Philly Lammers and Quinn Wragge has been especially formidable at the national tournament. After going for 20 points and 14 rebounds in Friday’s win over Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.), Lammers just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds in addition to three blocked shots on Saturday. While playing nearly 30 minutes, Wragge attacked the basket for 16 points. She also pulled down nine rebounds.

Janovich, who’s battled through pain for much of this season, scored Concordia’s first four points on her way to 11 for the afternoon. She also was a major pest on the defensive end and plucked a pair of steals. Janovich and company are a confident bunch with a team-first attitude.

“I think we mesh a lot better this year,” Janovich said. “Our chemistry on and off the court is really, really good.”

The Bulldogs have yet to be seriously challenged at the national tournament having won by margins of 35 in the first round, 19 in the second round and 15 in the quarterfinals. Just like Friday’s game, Concordia never trailed, but it got enough of a push from Jamestown that Olson used his starters for more than 22 minutes each.

No matter who was on the floor, the Bulldogs executed the game plan precisely.

“We knew we had a different matchup from yesterday with our zone (against Hammer),” Wragge said. “We were just going to control their guards and put a lot of pressure on them so they couldn’t pass it in to her. Philly did a great job. She was at the high post denying her the ball and not letting her get a lot of touches.”

Shelby Quinn (12 points, three assists) joined Wragge and Janovich as double-figure scorers. Many players made strong contributions off the bench, such as Brenleigh Daum (six points, 2-for-4 from 3-point range), Edwards (six points, two steals), Erin Vieselmeyer (four points, five rebounds, two blocks) and Colby Duvel (four points, five rebounds). Collectively, Concordia shot 44.1 percent (26-for-59) from the floor and held a 46-34 rebound advantage.

Previous Bulldog appearances in the national semifinals came in 2003, 2005, 2012 and 2015. Todd Voss served as head coach for the first two Fab Four runs.

UP NEXT: Concordia will play at 8 p.m. CT on Monday in the national semifinals. It awaits the winner between No. 3 Saint Xavier University (Ill.) (32-2) and No. 7 College of the Ozarks (Mo.), which play at 8 p.m. Saturday (March 11). Monday’s game will be televised on ESPN3.com. It will also be carried live on 104.9 Max Country radio.