SIOUX CITY, Iowa – This Concordia University women’s basketball team can turn a three-point lead into a 20-point advantage in a hurry. The Bulldogs proved too much for 18th-ranked Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.). Too much depth. Too much athleticism. Too much pressure. For the eighth time in program history, second-ranked Concordia is moving on to the quarterfinals of the national tournament courtesy of a 75-56 win over the Wolves on Friday morning.
Eleventh-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has boosted its record to 33-2 overall. The Bulldogs are now 24-15 all-time at the national championships.
“We felt like we had more depth. We just wanted to wear them down,” Olson said. “I thought that paid off in the third quarter as we were able to get some transition layups because of the work we did in the first two quarters.”
Concordia scored the game’s first bucket courtesy of sophomore Quinn Wragge and never trailed. Freshman Philly Lammers went head-to-head with standout Stritch post Kelli Schrauth and enjoyed another monster day in the paint. Despite facing consistent double teams, Lammers poured in a game high 20 points and added 14 rebounds and three steals. She went 9-for-15 from the floor.
Lammers and her frontcourt mates led the charge offensively. Erin Vieselmeyer came off the bench and supplied 12 points and seven rebounds and Quinn Wragge chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.
“We always try to attack and be aggressive,” Lammers said. “That’s what Coach says is when we’re best – when we’re all trying to attack and get into the paint and score. We were trying to focus on that.”
The Wolves fell behind 9-0 right out of the gate but made a game of it by going on an 8-0 run early in the third quarter. Suddenly, Stritch trailed by just three (39-36) after having been down 12 in the opening quarter. Olson subbed out all five starters and the Bulldogs responded with a game defining splurge.
Devin Edwards, who totaled eight points as a reserve, drained a trey. Then Sydney Feller piggybacked with one of her own. They sparked a fire that resulted in a 16-3 run and a 55-39 lead in the waning moments of the third quarter. The Wolves failed to make a serious charge the rest of the way.
Cardinal Stritch just wasn’t going to go on an extended run, because it couldn’t find a rhythm on offense. It shot only 29.0 percent (18-for-62) from the field and suffered from a rash of turnovers early on and then again when Concordia made a splash in the third quarter. The Wolves (27-6) ended up turning it over 26 times.
“That’s one of the things we take a lot of pride in,” Lammers said. “We always want to get up in the other team and force as many turnovers as we can. We want to be up in their face the best we can.”
Stritch enjoyed its most success when it could find Schrauth on the interior. She grabbed five offensive rebounds (12 total) as a difficult player to box out. Schrauth topped her team with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Only one other player – Haley Ream (12) – reached double figures for the Wolves. They fell despite keeping the Bulldogs to a 40.8 percent (31-for-76) figure from the field.
For those getting their first look at Lammers on the national stage, they’re seeing the athletically gifted and mentally composed star that Bulldog fans have enjoyed watching all year.
“She’s very special and very unique to be that athletic as a post player,” Olson said. “It really allows us to do a lot of things, especially on the defensive end. She’s a matchup nightmare on both ends.”
The Concordia bench tallied 37 points with Vieselmeyer leading the way. Colby Duvel added six rebounds for a Bulldog bunch that held a slight, 49-46, rebound advantage.
UP NEXT: Concordia will challenge the same quarterfinal opponent that it had on its path to the 2015 national championship game, the University of Jamestown (N.D.). The Jimmies’ route to the quarterfinals included a first-round win over 23rd-ranked Oregon Institute of Technology, 87-63, and a second-round victory over No. 6 Davenport University (Mich.), 80-67. Jamestown is 2-3 this season against GPAC opponents with the wins coming over Briar Cliff and Dordt.
Head coach Greg Ulland’s squad appears to be playing its best basketball of the season this March.
“Jamestown’s tough,” Olson said. “(Taylor) Hammer puts up 36 (points versus Davenport). That’s really impressive and then those three guards are really tough to keep in front. I think that’s the biggest challenge tomorrow. With the defense that we play, how can we control those guards? That’s going to be tough.”
The Bulldogs got Mary Janovich back on Friday. She had sat out Wednesday’s first-round win over Bryan College (Tenn.) as a precaution. Janovich did not score in 13 minutes of action against Cardinal Stritch. She was a major player in the 2015 run when she averaged 11.4 points over five national tournament contests.
Janovich and company will try to contain Kyra Dewald, who entered the tournament averaging a team best 15.5 points per game. She went just 1-for-9 against Davenport, but was picked up by her teammates, including Hammer, McKayla Orr (16 points) and Bryn Woodside (10 points, five rebounds). The Jimmies (27-5) are a perennial national championships qualifier. They are making their sixth-straight appearance at the Tyson Events Center.
Spurred by national player of the year Bailey Morris, Concordia defeated Jamestown, 76-59, at the national tournament in 2015. If the Bulldogs can duplicate that effort, they will advance to the semifinals and play whichever squad emerges out of the Duer Bracket. That semifinal matchup will be at 8 p.m. CT on Monday (March 13).