SEWARD, Neb. – Philly Lammers and the rest of the senior class had lost ONE time inside Walz Arena in their entire careers. That fact remains intact after the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball program did the previously unthinkable, rather the unprecedented. For the fourth year in a row, the Bulldogs have swept GPAC regular-season and postseason titles. Lammers and company toppled rival and fourth-ranked Hastings in Tuesday (March 3)’s GPAC title game, 60-49.
Fourteenth-year head coach Drew Olson has never lost a GPAC tournament championship contest in six tries. Concordia (31-2) looks like a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall seed in the national tournament that begins next week.
“I thought it was an incredible game – two great defensive teams,” Olson said. “Hastings is just so gritty. They wouldn’t go away, but I was really impressed with our players and how they stepped up to make plays in the second half.”
All three meetings between the Bulldogs and Broncos (30-3) have been grinders. On a night when points were tough to come by, Lammers carried her team offensively. The three-time All-American made 9-of-11 shots from the floor on her way to a game high 21 points. She posted seven of those points in the fourth quarter when Concordia finally began to pull away.
For the second-straight trip to Walz, Hastings struggled mightily to generate any offense. Sophia Pankratz drilled a trey at the 9:27 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Broncos up 42-41. The rest of the way, Hastings went 1-for-12 from the floor. The ability of the Bulldogs to tighten the clamps within their zone defense turned a white knuckler into a double-digit margin. The Broncos shot only 29.8 percent from the floor overall.
What Lammers and her classmates have done may not be fully appreciated or comprehended until some years down the road. The accomplishments continue to be staggering.
“It’s the legacy that we’ll leave, I guess,” Lammers said. “It’s something we can be really proud of. That’s a tradition that’s never going to graduate. We’re always going to be here with them and it’s a bar that we’ve set for other future programs to try strive for.”
The majority of the offense came from three seniors in Lammers, Grace Barry (16 points, six assists and four rebounds) and Colby Duvel (11 points, six rebounds and two steals). With her first bucket of the night, Lammers became just the second player in program history to reach 2,000 for a career. Also noteworthy were the treys knocked down by Mackenzie Koepke and MacKenzie Helman – the only two of the night for the Bulldogs.
In the previous three GPAC tournament title games, all at home, Concordia knocked off Dakota Wesleyan, including twice in instant classic fashion. The Bulldog seniors went a combined 78-6 in GPAC regular-season games, 63-1 at home and 12-0 in conference postseason games.
Soon the question will become – can this team repeat what was achieved last March when Concordia celebrated the program’s first-ever national title? With Barry and Lammers on your side, nothing is unattainable.
“It’s definitely one of our goals (to repeat),” Olson said. “I know there’s a lot of really good teams. I like how we’re playing. I like our confidence and our focus. We’re really excited to go up there.”
It’s entirely possible that Concordia could see Hastings again. The Broncos won their first 26 games to begin this season behind star point guard Shandra Farmer. She was held to 1-for-6 shooting on Tuesday, but still found ways to impact the game (eight rebounds, six assists and two steals). Pankratz topped Hastings with 16 points.
The national tournament bracket will be released on Wednesday (March 4) by the NAIA. The Bulldogs will make their 19th all-time appearance on the national stage.