SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The 2014-15 Concordia University women’s basketball team aims to do something never before accomplished in the history of the program – reach the national title game. As part of an all GPAC NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships semifinals, the third-ranked Bulldogs will take on No. 19 Briar Cliff at 8 p.m. CDT on Monday. ESPN3.com will carry the contest live online.
No. 3 Concordia (34-2) vs. No. 19 Briar Cliff (26-9)
Monday, March 16 | 8 p.m. CDT
Sioux City, Iowa | Tyson Events Center
Live broadcast: ESPN3.com
Live stats: Dakstats
Tickets: available at arena ticket office or via tysoncenter.com
Concordia is making its fourth all-time national semifinal appearance and second under ninth-year head coach Drew Olson. Other semifinal trips came in 2003, 2005 and 2012. The Bulldogs are 21-13 in 34 national tournament games (all since 1992) following wins at the 2015 championships over Bryan College, 76-35, No. 14 College of Saint Mary, 92-82, and No. 10 University of Jamestown, 76-59.
Now Olson’s squad draws a Briar Cliff team that it beat twice during the regular season. The Bulldogs defeated the Chargers by scores of 69-59 in Seward on Nov. 22 and 76-60 in Sioux City on Jan. 17. Head coach Mike Power’s club enters the semifinals coming off tournament victories over No. 15 Menlo College, 80-61, previously unbeaten and second-ranked Davenport University, 55-53, and Tabor College, 62-53.
Behind junior guard Jessi Corrick (15.0 ppg at the national tournament), Briar Cliff appears to be playing its best basketball of the season.
“The worry is that they’re a really good team and they’re playing really well,” Olson said after Saturday’s win over Jamestown. “That zone that they play is tough to really crack. Offensively they run some really good stuff, so it’s going to be a tough game.
“They’re never going to beat themselves. They’re solid defensively. They take care of the ball. They run really good offense. They’re just a sound basketball team. I knew if they got into the national tournament they were going to do really well.”
The Bulldogs are on a roll themselves and are arguably the hottest team in the nation. Their 34 wins are tied with the 2011-12 squad for the second most for a Concordia women’s basketball team. Only the 2002-03 team (36-2) has ever won more times in a single season in program history.
Concordia has enjoyed a special journey by following the lead of senior All-Americans Bailey Morris (20.7 ppg at the national tournament) and Tracy Peitz (16.7 ppg at the national tournament) and rising star Mary Janovich (8-for-11 from 3-point range at the national tournament). Their efforts have helped the Bulldogs pile up second-half leads of 21 points or more in each of the tournament’s first three games.
Morris and company are looking forward to another GPAC grinder under the spotlight on Monday night
“It will be a fun game,” Morris said. “They’re a great GPAC school. Obviously we’ve seen them before. They’re a great team. Every team is great here at the national tournament. They’re going to be playing some of their best basketball and hopefully we can too.”
Like Concordia, Briar Cliff has earned its fourth national semifinal berth and seeks its first-ever championship game appearance. The Bulldogs have won four-consecutive meetings with the Chargers.