Second-half domination keys rout of ninth-ranked Morningside

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 7, 2016 in Women's Basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Bulldogs managed only six points in the second quarter, but lived to tell about it following Wednesday’s clash between rival powerhouse programs. The seventh-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team did not show any hangover effects from last week’s triumph over No. 1 Dakota Wesleyan while claiming an 80-52 win at No. 9 Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa.

Off shooting night or not, it hasn’t mattered for 11th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad, which keeps finding ways to win. The Bulldogs have won 12-straight games and are now 12-1 overall and a perfect 7-0 in conference play.

“We talked about attacking more in the second half. Thankfully our great defense continued,” Olson said. “We just didn’t give them any open looks and I thought our press did a great job adjusting. They made an adjustment to their press break at halftime and we adjusted to that. Our defensive pressure just turned it up. That was really the difference in the game.”

Concordia possesses plenty of scoring options, but its pressure defense is what has made it an elite team. As part of the 9-0 third-quarter blitzkrieg, the Bulldogs put up seven points in the blink of an eye. The sequence began with a Philly Lammers layup and continued with two additional buckets (Dani Andersen trey and Mary Janovich layup) that came directly after steals in the backcourt. Concordia then led 45-37.

Suddenly the dam had burst wide open. The Mustangs collapsed underneath the weight of the Bulldogs’ lockdown defense that forced 32 turnovers. Concordia returned to its dominant ways in the second half, outscoring Morningside 30-19 in the third period and 27-11 in the fourth.

Once again, Janovich, named NAIA Division II national player of the week, was one of the catalysts. She scored all 16 of her points in the second half, including nine during the game-defining third quarter surge. On this team, she never has to do it alone. Sophomore Quinn Wragge terrorized the Mustangs with an impressive line of 13 points, eight rebounds and eight steals. Wragge was able to jump passing lanes while feeding off the menacing on-ball pressure of the likes of Andersen and Janovich.

“They’re just perfect fits for this style. Dani and Mary up front are just causing havoc for point guards on the opposing team,” Olson said. “Quinn was awesome in that second line tonight. She was just picking off passes and reading them. I think the rest of the group is understanding exactly what we’re doing. We’re growing and doing a really good job of adjusting.”

All five Concordia starters cracked double figures in scoring. Though limited by foul trouble, Philly Lammers still put up 15 points and eight rebounds. Senior point guard Shelby Quinn added 12 points and five assists and Dani Andersen chipped in 11 points.

Morningside (7-4, 2-3 GPAC) has already lost more conference games than it did in the previous two seasons combined. A national champion in 2015, the Mustangs aren’t used to getting kicked around. Wednesday’s 28-point margin was the program’s largest spread in defeat since a 76-46 loss at Northwestern on Feb. 9, 2011.

The Mustangs got a game high 18 points and 13 rebounds from Lexi Ackerman. However, it took her 17 shots to rack up those points. As a team, Morningside shot only 31.7 percent (19-for-60). That percentage had actually gone up following a dreadful offensive first half for both teams. Concordia shot only 23.3 percent in the first half, but heated up to 55.9 percent in the second half.

The Bulldogs will get another test from a perennial GPAC giant on Saturday when Northwestern (9-4, 3-4 GPAC) invades Walz Arena for a 2 p.m. CT tipoff. The two sides met in the conference opener in Orange City on Nov. 9. Concordia got the upper hand, 88-81. The Bulldogs own a home record of 75-9 since the start of the 2011-12 season.