Sixth semifinal berth spurred by breathtaking third period

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 10, 2018 in Women's Basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University women’s basketball team was stupid good in the third quarter. That dazzling 10-minute stretch defined the day for the Bulldogs, who are off to the national semifinals for the third time in four years and for the sixth time in program history. Once again, Concordia victimized the University of Jamestown in a national quarterfinal tilt in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs won, 79-61, on Saturday (March 10).

Twelfth-year head coach Drew Olson’s been at the controls for 17 of the program’s 28 wins all-time at the national tournament. At 35-1 overall, Concordia has reached a high water mark for victories in a season during Olson’s tenure. The school record is 36 triumphs (2002-03).

Olson’s been doing this for over a decade, but he’s likely never seen one of his teams dominate quite like this for a 10-minute segment.

“It was pretty fun to watch,” Olson said. “That’s just the firepower that we have. We have so many weapons, so many kids who are capable of scoring. As long as we’re being on attack mode and sharing the ball, good things are going to happen.”

The numbers from the third quarter are crazy. During the period that crushed the Jimmies’ souls, the Bulldogs outscored the opposition 38-10, went 14-for-23 from the field (.609), 7-for-8 from 3-point range (.875) and owned a plus-nine turnover advantage (9-0). Sophomore guard Mackenzie Helman played a starring role, drilling all three of her attempts from beyond the arc in the third quarter. That seven-point first half deficit? Forget about it. Concordia led 69-44 heading to the fourth period.

All-American post Philly Lammers also put up 11 of her game high 20 points in the third. Her monster afternoon also included a career high 17 rebounds and four blocked shots. A day earlier, her eight steals were a career best in the win over 15th-ranked Taylor University (Ind.).

The second half Bulldog blitz had Jamestown head coach Greg Ulland searching for answers that never came. Even a 9-0 Jimmie run to begin the fourth quarter was far too little to change the outcome.

“I tried to use a couple timeouts and change one or two little things, but when they’re playing at that level there’s not a whole lot you can do,” Ulland said. “They’re extremely talented and they’re deep. They’re very contagious. When one kid hits, then everybody thinks they can make it. It seemed like they didn’t even miss a shot that whole quarter.”

Whatever shooting fever infected Concordia in the third quarter was absent for most of the first half. The Bulldogs endured a field goal drought of more than five minutes during the second quarter. Finally they got something going with five points in a row from Lammers late in the half. Evidently Concordia was simply a sleeping giant at the time.

At the break, Olson challenged his team to play with more fervor. Their tournament life hung in the balance.

“I think we just realized we had to come out with fight,” Lammers said. “This is a battle. Every team here wants to win. We had to come out and show that we wanted it more and prove that we were the best team out there.”

The Bulldogs shot 45.6 percent (31-for-68) for the game while a tournament theme on the other end of the court continued. Jamestown (31-5), which cruised past Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and Indiana Tech in the preceding rounds, shot only 32.8 percent (22-for-67) overall and was just 5-for-23 (.217) from 3-point range.

The Jimmies’ chances were hurt by star guard Bryn Woodside’s hobbled knee. She played through it at the national tournament, but she wasn’t quite the same player. Backcourt mates McKayla Orr (17 points, eight rebounds) and Paige Emmel (12 points, eight rebounds) did their best to pick up the slack.

Lammers led the way for four Bulldogs in double figures. Quinn Wragge recorded 14 points and five rebounds, Helman added 13 points and four rebounds and Sydney Feller poured in 10 points off the bench.

Now for the big question. Can Concordia complete the mission no other team in school history has? The Bulldogs will take on GPAC rival Northwestern (25-8) inside the Tyson Events Center at 8 p.m. CT on Monday (March 12) in the national semifinals. Live coverage will be provided by and 104.9 Max Country. The Red Raiders defeated No. 19 St. Francis (Ill.) in overtime on Saturday.