Tenacious D rocks Midland
SEWARD, Neb. – Even when their 3-point shooting eludes them, the third-ranked Bulldogs find other ways to dominate. On Wednesday the Concordia University women’s basketball team forced 35 more turnovers en route to a 79-59 win over visiting Midland inside Walz Arena.
Ninth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad won for the 12th-straight time (eighth-consecutive win by 20 or more points) and moved to 17-1 overall and 10-1 in league play. The Bulldogs have now triumphed in each of their last 13 meetings with the Warriors (7-10, 2-6 GPAC).
Concordia forced 22 first half turnovers and then turned the pressure up even more in the second half when Midland went just 7-for-26 (.269) from the field.
“I thought we played really hard,” Olson said. “In the second half we played with great focus on the defensive end. We didn’t force as many turnovers but we weren’t giving them the easy baskets that kept them in the game in the first half. Even though we didn’t go on our usual 3-point barrage, I thought we competed well defensively.”
The Bulldogs rode a strong night from senior Tracy Peitz, who put up 19 points and three steals on her birthday. Peitz and company were so tenacious defensively that Midland often struggled just to get the ball over the timeline. On a night when Concordia went 5-for-20 from beyond the arc, it made up for it by flustering Warrior star duo Jamilah Johnson and Sammi Licari into a combined 14 turnovers.
Make no mistake, these Bulldogs can score, but defense has become their calling card.
“We struggled a little bit to get going but in the second half we finally focused in,” sophomore Becky Mueller said. “We really worked together as a team and rotated well in our press. It was probably one of the best defensive efforts we’ve had all year.”
Tied at 28 late in the first half, Peitz drove for a bucket in the lane that initiated a 12-2 run that culminated with Mueller sizing up three of her 13 points from downtown. Concordia led 42-34 at the half and maintained an advantage of five or more points the rest of the evening.
Midland, a team that has suffered six losses by five points or fewer, failed to make things interesting down the stretch. The Bulldogs pushed their lead up to 24 (77-53) with 4:32 left via an 18-5 run that ended with Peitz sinking a pair of free throws. Seven different Bulldogs scored during the run that left no doubt.
Senior Bailey Morris (15) and freshman Mary Janovich (13) joined Mueller and Peitz as double-figure scorers. Morris added eight steals and four assists and Janovich chipped in five rebounds and four steals.
Olson commended both Janovich and senior Kelsey Hizer for their work defensively in holding down Johnson and Licari. The Warriors, who got 11 points from Licari, shot 42.2 percent for the game.
Morris concluded the night with 1,710 points for her career, making her the sixth player in program history to surpass 1,700 points. Morris has Lynda Beck (1,720 points) in her sights for fifth-place on the school’s all-time list.
The Bulldogs complete a stretch of four-straight home games when they welcome Northwestern (10-6, 4-4 GPAC) to Walz Arena on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff. The Red Raiders won two of three meetings last season with the home team triumphing in each instance. Last season then No. 7 Concordia defeated No. 3 Northwestern, 89-78, in Seward on Feb. 15 behind a program single-game record 45 points from Morris.