Relentless pressure staves off upset bid in Crete

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 3, 2018 in Women's Basketball

CRETE, Neb. – Tenacious pressure defense and a massive second half performance by Quinn Wragge helped the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team escape a serious push from Doane inside the Haddix Center on Wednesday night (Jan. 3). The Bulldogs made use of 31 Tiger turnovers while pulling away late for a 76-63 victory.

In action for the first time in 2018 and for the first time since toppling No. 1 Saint Xavier University, 12th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad moved to 16-0 overall and to 8-0 in conference play.

“Doane did a great job with their press break and did a great job executing against our defense,” Olson said. “They hit shots early on and got to us. It kind of affected us more offensively than it really should have. I just thought Doane was really prepared.

“Our kids finally settled in and figured out how we needed to get stops against them. Once we got stops we could run the floor and get easy baskets. Dani (Hoppes) hits a couple big threes and I thought Colby’s (Duvel) effort on both ends was really big.”

The Tigers (6-11, 1-8 GPAC) gave Concordia their best shot. Doane shot 55.2 percent in the opening half and led for the entirety of the second and third quarters. Entering the night averaging 63.6 points, the Tigers needed to somehow keep this one in the sixties. Eventually they succumbed to the Bulldog zone press and what had been a 10-point Doane lead crumbled into a double-digit disadvantage.

Thankfully for Concordia, it did not have to sweat out the closing minutes. The Bulldogs hit hard to open the fourth quarter, going on a 16-4 run that provided a 70-58 lead. Highlights of the splurge included back-to-back all-net treys by Hoppes and the relentless hustle of Duvel, who chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Playing without standout freshman Taylor Cockerill for the first time this season, Concordia used its depth to make up for it. Of course, the monster third quarter from Wragge (12 points) didn’t hurt. Wragge outscored Doane by herself during a third period that saw her side climb right back into it. Meanwhile, the Tigers couldn’t find a go-to option down the stretch. Star guard McKenna Dodd was held to nine points on 3-for-12 shooting.

“I think we just needed to take a deep breath and play our game,” Hoppes said. “We came out a little hesitant. We didn’t just take it at them and play like ourselves. We showed we could be more aggressive, get more steals and get stops on defense.”

Effort wasn’t the issue for Concordia, which had to overcome a solid game plan from the opposition. These Bulldogs have many ways to skin a cat – or a Tiger in this case. Even though national player of the week Philly Lammers turned it over eight times, she made her presence felt with 14 rebounds while turning in another double-double. Wragge, Hoppes (14), Mary Janovich (12), Lammers (11) and Duvel (10) all reached double figures in scoring. Janovich added four steals.

Doane fell despite outshooting the Bulldogs, 46.2 to 39.7 percent. The Tigers got team highs of 14 points and seven rebounds from Haylee Heits.

At long last, the Bulldogs will finally entertain an opponent at home when action unfolds beginning at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday inside Walz Arena. Sixth-ranked Morningside (13-5, 6-2 GPAC) will try to put a stop to a Concordia home win streak that currently stands at 27. The Bulldogs swept last season’s pair of matchups with the Mustangs.