MVP Brigham spurs Bulldogs to 32nd all-time CIT title

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 27, 2024 in Women's Basketball

MEQUON, Wis. – The Concordia Bulldog Women’s Basketball team hoped to script a faster start on Saturday (Jan. 27) evening, but eventually its depth of talent and experience wore out host Concordia University Wisconsin. For the 32nd time in program history, the Bulldogs have raised the Concordia Invitational Tournament championship trophy. Eighth-ranked CUNE mowed down the Falcons by a score of 78-48 inside the R. John Buuck Fieldhouse in Mequon. The Bulldog press flustered CUW into 32 turnovers.

This marked the 13th time the Bulldogs have seized the CIT title during Head Coach Drew Olson’s tenure. Olson owns an all-time CIT record of 29-3 while the current 2023-24 Bulldogs now stand at 17-2 overall.

“It feels great – I’m really proud of our team,” Olson said. “I told them, don’t ever take this for granted. It’s so fun to be able to win a championship. We had two hard-fought games. I’m proud of our team’s toughness and effort. They’re having a blast. I take a lot of pride in Concordia Nebraska. I love the school and everything it’s done for me. To be able to represent it at this stage is amazing. I’ve just been blessed with so many great players and assistant coaches to continue this dominance. I’m very thankful for Concordia and also these players and coaches.”

Slow starts offensively have become a bit of a theme lately for CUNE, but this squad has shown it won’t flinch when things don’t go exactly as planned. A year ago in Seward, the Bulldogs blistered the Falcons in a 100-49 rout. In the latest matchup of the two Concordias, the first 10 minutes were a stalemate (14-14) before shots began to fall for the visitors. The Bulldogs used an 8-0 run in the middle of the second quarter to gain control and a 27-20 advantage. The lead increased to 12 by halftime (40-28) as turnovers mounted for the Falcons.

CIT MVP Kendal Brigham wouldn’t allow CUW to sniff an upset in the second half. In the third quarter, the Wahoo, Neb., native went on a personal 6-0 run that made it a commanding 51-32 lead. Brigham gave her side consistent production throughout the weekend as she tallied 14 points in both CIT victories. In Saturday’s championship contest, Brigham made 5-of-9 shots from the floor and notched four assists and four steals. She was joined on the CIT All-Tournament Team by Taysha Rushton (27 combined points in the two games).

Brigham and Rushton are part of a fourth-year class of teammates that have the Bulldogs enjoying another stellar season. Each of them had their moments throughout the weekend. Sadie Powell drilled a dagger of a trey in Friday’s win over Concordia Ann Arbor and posted nine points and six rebounds in the championship game. Rushton (10) and freshman Sammy Leu (10) reached double figures in the title clash. Freshman Bree Bunting provided a nice lift with eight first-half points. CUNE shot 39.0 percent (30-for-77) for the game while CUW shot only 30.4 percent.

As part of many of the most successful seasons in school history, the Bulldogs have won the CIT championship. Said Brigham, “It’s just so fun. This is a tournament that we look forward to. It’s only our second year of CIT. With this maybe being my last one. I’m so glad we could come out with a win and I’m glad we could give Coach another one.”

CUW (10-9) last won a CIT championship in 2007. The Falcon representative on the CIT All-Tournament team was Erin Viergutz. She put up 12 points and 11 rebounds in the championship game.

The Bulldogs grinded through a stretch of three wins in four days. Their winning streak sits at 10. Said Olson, “We’re 17-2. If you would have said you would be 17-2 at this point, I would have said, we’ll take it. I love this team’s grit. We haven’t played awesome over the last couple of games, but we show a lot of fight and toughness. We’re almost like a tractor. It takes a little while to warm up. Once it starts going, you just can’t stop it. Hopefully we can get in a different vehicle that starts off a little bit faster.”

It will be GPAC action for the remainder of the regular season as the Bulldogs close the month of January with a trip to Morningside (11-8, 8-6 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff from the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center in Sioux City, Iowa, is set for 6 p.m. CT. The two sides met in the conference opener in Seward on Nov. 15 with the result being an 86-62 victory for the Bulldogs.

2024 CIT All-Tournament Team

CUNE - Kendal Brigham - MVP

CUAA - Abby Long

CUNE - Taysha Rushton

CUC - Jaylene Wade

CUW - Erin Viergutz