SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Just like that, it’s over. The top-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team will not get a chance to defend its 2019 national title. Late Thursday (March 12) morning, the NAIA made the decision to cancel the remainder of the NAIA Division II Women’s and Men’s Basketball National Championships. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad had been in Sioux City, Iowa, preparing for a second-round game when it learned the news.
It comes as a major shock to the seniors, who now have their careers abruptly ended. The coronavirus pandemic has been shutting down sporting events all across the nation. The cancelations are an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
On Wednesday, the first eight games of the national tournament were played as scheduled at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City. The Bulldogs defeated Wilberforce University (Ohio), 75-57, on Wednesday morning. They were slated to take on No. 15 Kansas Wesleyan University at 12 p.m. CT on Friday. Concordia had hoped to have four games left in its national tournament run. Instead, members of the team are left to make sense of the situation – just as everyone else is attempting to do.
Said Olson, "Sometimes you have to look at the big picture. There’s a whole let else going on. Hopefully we’ll look back on this and say it was the smart thing to do. When I announced it to the team there were a lot of emotions. It was anger and disappointment at the time and it shifted to sadness and hurt for our team, especially for our seniors. It’s awesome being at Concordia and knowing what strong Christians I’m surrounded by. We trust that God is in control. There are a lot of unknowns and we don’t have all the answers, but God will lead us through it."
Senior Grace Barry tweeted the following words on Thursday afternoon: “As a senior playing in the NAIA national tournament, I am heartbroken I will never play another collegiate basketball game due to the hysteria of the coronavirus. I would do anything to finish out the national tournament and play just one more game with my teammates, my family. I am not an expert on the coronavirus nor would I claim to be and I do not promote the decision made by the NAIA. However, if we prevent just one person from dying, if by canceling the women’s basketball national tournament we prevent one person from losing their sister, daughter, mother, father or son, that is a success in itself. So congratulations to all 32 teams at the national tournament, not only do you all collectively share the 2020 NAIA national title, but you won something even greater, you sacrificed for the greater good of all people.”
Barry was the reigning national tournament MVP. She transferred into Concordia via the University of Nebraska-Kearney and joined a senior class that achieved unprecedented success. Consider the accomplishments of the women’s basketball program over the past four seasons:
· 137-10 overall record
· 2019 National Champions
· 2018 National Runners Up
· 2017 National Semifinalists
· Four-straight sweeps of GPAC regular-season/postseason titles
· 63-1 home record
· 78-6 record in GPAC regular-season games
In another sidebar, senior Philly Lammers’ pursuit of the school scoring record has ended. She finished with 2,033 career points, putting her 21 points off the standard still held by Bailey Morris (2,054). The senior group also features Colby Duvel, MacKenzie Helman, Taryn Schuette and Riley Sibbel. It’s a group Olson has repeatedly raved about, more for their actions off the court than on it.
For more details on the cancelation of NAIA postseason events, click HERE.