CRETE, Neb. – Fittingly, in the game in which its senior All-American became the program’s most prolific scorer, the third-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team leaned upon its star. The Bulldogs hit host Doane with a steady dose of Bailey Morris, who fueled an 86-77 win in Crete. Morris torched the Tigers (12-12, 8-6 GPAC) for 30 points to pass Sarah Harrison (1,800 points) for the title of Concordia women’s basketball all-time leading scorer.
Ninth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad won for the 16th-straight time, marking the second longest winning streak during Olson’s tenure. Concordia moved to 21-1 overall and 14-1 in conference play.
Morris entered the night needing 25 points to edge in front of Harrison. The former Sandy Creek prep star got point Nos. 25 and 26 on a driving layup with 7:36 left in the game for the record breaker.
It’s an achievement Morris says was made possible by a strong supporting cast within one of the NAIA’s most successful programs.
“It’s a pretty crazy feeling,” Morris said. “Concordia has always had a great women’s basketball program so knowing that I’m the all-time leading scorer is pretty surreal. Accomplishments like this one are individually given, but not individually earned. My teammates and coaches deserve so much credit.”
Morris’ record-busting score gave the Bulldogs a 65-61 advantage at the time, but a Doane team that received a national ranking earlier in the season wouldn’t go away just yet. Concordia did not take the lead for good until Becky Mueller splashed in a triple with 4:05 left, breaking a 67-all tie. The crucial long-distance shot initiated an 8-2 run that gave the Bulldogs control in the final minutes.
Off the bench, Concordia senior Jericca Pearson came through with a career high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and 7-for-8 shooting from the free throw line. Pearson and company attacked the basket often, leading to 35 attempts (26 makes) from the charity stripe. The combo of Morris and Pearson made 5 of 5 free throw shots over the last 31 seconds to sew up the victory.
“It was a great GPAC win on the road,” Olson said. “It’s a good one to get out of the way. Our focus probably wasn’t all there. We weren’t all in sync. We hadn’t played in a week and CIT is coming up. That may have had something to do with it, but we did enough to win.”
Like she’s done so often throughout her career, Morris ensured the win with her dominant play on the court. She added five assists and five steals a day after being named the GPAC player of the week for the seventh time in her career.
Noted for her work ethic and a drive to be great, Morris has developed into one of the nation’s most exciting players. She ends the night with 1,806 points over 122 career games.
“I’m really proud of her,” Olson said. “It’s an individual accomplishment but I also think it’s pretty cool for the team. If we didn’t have a good team it wouldn’t mean as much. We’ve had some great players around her to complement and support her.
“She deserves it. She’s phenomenal. It’s a product of all her hard work. She was very good in high school. She’s become a great college player.”
Morris and Pearson were Concordia’s only double figure scorers. Mary Janovich chipped in nine points and four assists while Tracy Peitz netted eight points and three steals, including a critical one late in the game. Kelsey Hizer contributed four steals as part of a defensive effort that yielded 29 Doane turnovers.
The Bulldogs will rise early on Thursday and fly out of Omaha as they journey to the 64th annual Concordia University Invitational Tournament hosted by Concordia University, Ann Arbor. CUNE will play the very first game of the event on Friday when they take on Concordia University, Chicago at 1 p.m. EST. Historically, the Bulldogs have dominated the tournament with a CIT-leading 24 titles, including one last season at Concordia University, Wisconsin.