HONOLULU, Hawaii – In Tuesday’s action at the Hoop N Surf Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Concordia University women’s basketball program met College of the Ozarks (Mo.) for the first time since the 2012 national semifinals. If you’re a Bulldog fan, you’d rather not remember that matchup. This time around, the second-ranked Bulldogs fended off the eighth-rated Bobcats, 78-68.
Concordia has won all four games its played in Hawaii during eleventh-year head coach Drew Olson’s tenure. The Bulldogs are now 15-1 overall and will bring a 15-game win streak back home.
Though Concordia won by double digits for the 13th time this season, it needed more than 35 minutes to put the game away. College of the Ozarks (11-4) had a cut 10-point (56-46) late third-quarter deficit to just three (63-60) with under six minutes remaining. During the ensuing 13-2 Concordia run, the junior guard from Gretna rattled off nine points of her own and snagged a steal and an offensive board. By the time the Janovich onslaught ended, the Bulldogs led 76-62 with under two minutes left. Game over.
“Mary played really well late, and there were a whole bunch of little plays,” Olson said. “Erin (Vieselmeyer) hit a baseline jumper when Philly (Lammers) was in foul trouble. Quinn (Wragge) had this phenomenal offensive rebound where she gathered herself and scored. Devin (Edwards) had a really nice drive. There were a lot of little plays that helped, but Mary was definitely the key. She was tired, but she played awesome in that fourth quarter.”
Concordia shot the ball better on day two of its excursion in The Aloha State. Wragge downed 6-of-8 shots while totaling 14 points and six rebounds. Dani Andersen (10 points) got going with a pair of treys and Brenleigh Daum (nine points) again provided a lift with three triples off the bench. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 44.1 percent (30-for-68) overall and 33.3 percent (10-for-30) from beyond the arc.
It appeared early on that Concordia might just coast to a breezy island victory. It led 18-3 less than five minutes into the game after Aubri Bro sank a jumper from long distance. The Bobcats stormed back and trailed only 21-16 at the end of the first quarter. However, they never did hold a lead all afternoon, getting as close as two (42-40) early in the third period.
The Bulldogs held off the College of the Ozarks rally attempt despite a strong effort from Bobcat star Cassidy Johnson, who drilled 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range and finished with a game high 18 points. Johnson and company hung in there and did a commendable job going up against Concordia’s vaunted press. College of the Ozarks committed 23 turnovers compared to 20 by the Bulldogs.
Olson came away pleased with his team’s two outings in Hawaii that came after Concordia arrived later than originally planned.
“They continue to impress me and continue to do the little things to win games in different ways,” Olson said. “Today our press really wasn’t that good. We won the turnover margin by three. Offensively, we were a mess at times but when we needed baskets, people stepped up and scored. When we needed stops, we dug in and took people away. We’re finding ways to win even when we’re not at our best. That’s a really good sign.”
The Bulldogs will enjoy island life for a bit longer before making a return to Nebraska in time for Christmas. The team planned to take in a luau yet today and then visit Pearl Harbor on Wednesday morning, among other activities. Up next on the schedule is a home date with Briar Cliff (7-7, 4-3 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CT on Jan. 4. It will be Fan Appreciation Day inside Walz Arena. Fans will be admitted free of charge.