Defensive grit paves way for fifth win over ranked opponent
KLKN-TV: Drew Olson earns 200th career win
SEWARD, Neb. – The third-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team went scoreless over the first six minutes of action on Wednesday night before recovering to top visiting and 21st-ranked Doane, 62-54, inside Walz Arena. For the second-straight home game, the Bulldogs were hardly a thing of beauty on the offensive end, but again they found a way with their in-your-face defensive approach.
In the process, head coach Drew Olson’s squad claimed its fifth top-25 victim already this season to improve to 9-1 overall and 4-1 in conference action. The win also marked the 200th in the career of Olson, now in his ninth season at the helm of the women’s basketball program.
“It’s more about the players and the kids I’ve had in the program,” Olson told KLKN-TV after the game. “I’ve had a lot of really great players, but more great people. It’s been really fun coaching all of them.”
Concordia took its first lead of the night on Bailey Morris’ trey at the 10:49 mark of the second half, making it a 40-39 score. Morris, always one for theatrics, later dished a behind-the-back pass to Mary Janovich for a fastbreak two that gave the Bulldogs a 59-52 advantage in the game’s latter stages.
Morris’ resulting ear-to-ear grin represented a major contrast to the frustrations that characterized the first 20 minutes. There was more fun to be had soon after when a Morris crossover tied a Doane defender in knots.
“After about two dribbles I kind of had an idea of what I was going to do,” said Morris of the highlight reel dime. “I don’t think Mary did. I was really happy when she finished the play. It started on her steal. It’s all her.”
Without a doubt, the Bulldogs won Wednesday’s game because of their work on the defensive end – and in part due to the star power of Morris at point guard. The reigning GPAC player of the week kept Concordia afloat with 14 of her game high 20 points in the first half and freshman Mary Janovich proved to be a menace again with her pesky defense.
Concordia forced 33 Doane turnovers, surrendered less than 40 percent shooting and held the Tigers without a field goal over the game’s final four minutes. That defensive prowess carried the day.
“That’s basically what it came down to,” Morris said. “We finally started getting some stops and stopped bailing them out. Our defense got stops and then our offense came naturally.”
The Bulldogs missed their first 10 attempts from the field as Doane (6-6, 4-2 GPAC) built a 12-0 lead out of the gates. In the opening 10 minutes, Concordia went 2-for-18 from the field and turned it over eight times as part of its sloppiest stretch of play this season. A saving grace was four blocked shots during that period that thwarted several Tiger run outs.
Doane held a lead as late as the 6:48 mark of the second half when McKenna Dodd drilled a long 3-pointer. The Bulldogs responded with the next six points to restore order and control of the game.
Janovich (13 points and three steals) was the only Bulldog other than Morris to reach double figures in scoring. All-American Tracy Peitz spent a large portion of the contest saddled to the bench due to foul trouble. Senior Kelsey Hizer chipped in five steals to match Morris’ total.
Doane, which entered the game with three-consecutive GPAC wins, garnered its first national ranking in six years with Tuesday’s poll release. The Tigers were led by the 13 points of Heather Broman. With limited touches, star forward Hannah Dostal managed only four shots from the field and seven points.
The Bulldogs look to remain unbeaten on the road (4-0) on Saturday when they travel to play Dordt (6-5, 0-4 GPAC) in Sioux Center, Iowa, at 2 p.m. Concordia swept last season’s two meetings with the Defenders, winning by margins of 23 and 18 points.