Concordia runs win streak to 20 in battle of GPAC powers

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 21, 2017 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – It had been nearly three months since the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team had faced a double-digit deficit. No need to worry. Red-hot and 11th-ranked Morningside saw its lead melt away and the Bulldogs rolled up a 90-60 victory inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. Concordia responded to the sterling start by the Mustangs with a 33-14 run to close the first half.

The Bulldogs have won 20-straight games, marking the third longest win streak during 11th-year head coach Drew Olson’s tenure. GPAC-leading Concordia has moved to 20-1 overall and to 13-0 in the GPAC. Only the 2002-03 edition (perfect 16-0) has produced a longer unbeaten run to begin conference play.

“I was just really proud of our kids’ composure at that point,” Olson said of the early deficit. “It was kind of good for us to face a little bit of adversity. We really handled it well. The adjustments weren’t much other than taking away their high post a little bit more. I felt like every time they were getting the ball in the high post they were scoring.

“Offensively we had people step up. Sydney Feller hit a big three and Erin Vieselmeyer came through with a couple baskets that kind of settled us down.”

The Mustangs (16-6, 7-5 GPAC), who saw their win streak stopped at eight, jumped out to a fast start by getting the ball over the top of the vaunted Bulldog press. Junior Lauren Lehmkuhl (14 points, 11 rebounds, four steals) did her part in serving as Concordia’s arch villain, but Philly Lammers and company have many ways to skin a cat. Lammers was too much inside, Mary Janovich relentlessly harassed Morningside and the press eventually got to the opposition.

The run to begin the third quarter was a thing of beauty for Concordia, which turned a 44-35 halftime advantage into a commanding 58-35 lead. The 14-0 splurge began with two Lammers buckets in the paint, was bolstered by some Janovich theatrics and was capped by a Dani Andersen trifecta.

First quarter aside, this was the typical performance from the 2016-17 Bulldogs. In 20 minutes of action, Lammers totaled 14 points and nine rebounds. The pesky Janovich piled up 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Quinn Wragge, also a disruptive force in the press, chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Off the bench, Vieselmeyer rattled off 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Feller nailed four of her first six attempts from beyond the arc on her way to a dozen points.

“We have so many people who can score,” Wragge said. “Any game, you never know who’s going to step up. It’s awesome because I don’t think anybody on our team feels a lot of pressure to score and to have to perform well every game. We spread it out really evenly.”

Concordia shot 47.4 percent (36-for-76) from the floor (12-for-30 from 3-point range) compared to 32.8 percent shooting by Morningside. Though the Mustangs handled the press well early on, they finished with 26 turnovers. Madison Braun (16 points, 5-for-14 from the field) joined Lehmkuhl as Morningside double-figure scorers.

The Bulldogs have earned their first regular-season sweep of Morningside since the 2012-13 season. Concordia is now 79-9 at home since the start of the 2011-12 season.

“Morningside’s a really good team,” Olson said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of how we played. We just keep getting better every day. Hopefully we’ve got a little more in us.”

Another big-time matchup looms on Wednesday when seventh-ranked Hastings (18-4, 11-2 GPAC) pays a visit to Seward. Tipoff from Walz Arena is slated for 6 p.m. CT. It will be the first meeting of the season between rivals that occupy the top-two spots in the GPAC standings. That contest will lead into the 66th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament that will get underway Friday afternoon.