Walz set to house GPAC championship game

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 26, 2017 in Women's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – The 2016-17 Bulldogs hope to join the 2011-12 squad as the lone teams in program history to win GPAC regular-season and tournament titles in the same season. For the first time since 2012, Walz Arena will host the GPAC women’s basketball tournament championship game when the action tips off at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Second-seeded and ninth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (26-5) will serve as the opposition.

The game will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network. Audio will be provided by 104.9 Max Country radio with Tyler Cavalli calling the play-by-play. Devin Smith serves as color commentator.

Eleventh-year head coach Drew Olson is asking for a big student showing. “It’s pretty cool. Our kids obviously feel a lot more comfortable here,” Olson said. “We’re hoping for a huge turnout. Hopefully our student body shows up and goes crazy like the last time we hosted.”

The Bulldogs have been dominant so far in postseason play. Top-seeded Concordia blew past eighth-seeded Midland, 88-69, in the conference quarterfinals and then drubbed No. 5 seed Northwestern, 88-51, in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have made a habit of pummeling opponents. They have won 22 times by 20 points or more. They’ve trailed in the second half of only five of their 32 games.

The Tigers will attempt to do something that hasn’t been accomplished yet this season – defeat Concordia inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs are a perfect 16-0 at home. The 2016-17 Concordia edition has a chance to become the first team in GPAC era program history to complete an undefeated home season. Since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, the Bulldogs are 86-9 at home.

Like Concordia, Dakota Wesleyan has breezed to the championship tussle. In the quarterfinals, the Tigers routed seventh-seeded Briar Cliff, 94-60, and then cruised past sixth-seeded Doane, 81-57. Both of those games were staged at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D. In true road games, Dakota Wesleyan is 8-4. Included in those four losses was an 85-82 defeat in Seward on Dec. 3. The Tigers are superb on both ends of the floor. Nationally, they rank sixth in field goal percentage offense (.459) and 14th in field goal percentage defense (.359).

Dakota Wesleyan will have to contend with freshman Philly Lammers, who has been on a tear this postseason. Against Midland, she went for 19 points, eight rebounds (seven offensive) and two steals in only 18 minutes of action. Then in the semifinals, she totaled 18 points, five rebounds, five blocks and three steals in 22 minutes. Lammers is the team leader in scoring (13.1), rebounding (6.8), blocks (1.22) and field goal percentage (.583).

Lammers experienced the rowdiness of CIT for the first time this season. Now she’ll get a feel for the GPAC championship game.

“I think that’s definitely going to be exciting,” Lammers said after the win over Northwestern. “We have a really great home crowd and fan base. It’s always fun to play in your home arena.”

Concordia has lost only one time in its last 31 outings. That defeat was a 75-53 loss at Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 12, the day after the Bulldogs clinched the conference regular-season championship. In that loss, Concordia shot just 25.0 percent (15-for-60) from the floor and went 2-for-22 (.091) from beyond the arc.

The 2016-17 Bulldogs are the fifth winningest team in program history. The top four are 2002-03 (36-2), 2014-15 (35-3), 2011-12 (34-3) and 2004-05 (31-5). Each of those four squads advanced to the national semifinals. The 2014-15 group remains the only team in school history to reach the national championship game.

Both Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan have clinched berths in the national tournament. The qualifying field and bracket will be announced on Wednesday by the NAIA. The championship event will get underway from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, on March 8. The Bulldogs will make their 16th appearance all-time at the national tournament.

Projected lineups

Concordia (30-2)
G – Shelby Quinn: 6.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 spg, .362 fg%, .778 ft%
G – Dani Andersen: 9.0 ppg, 1.6 spg, 1.6 apg, 1.2 rpg, .379 fg%, .350 3-pt fg%
G – Mary Janovich: 11.2 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 spg, .530 fg%, .448 3-pt fg%
F – Quinn Wragge: 11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, .556 fg%, .735 ft%
F – Philly Lammers: 13.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.1 spg, 1.2 bpg, .583 fg%, .798 ft%

Dakota Wesleyan (26-5)
G – Rylie Osthus: 10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.4 spg, .436 fg%
G – Chesney Nagel: 4.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, .379 fg%, .683 ft%
F – Amber Bray: 9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, .497 fg%, .854 ft%
F – Ashley Bray: 12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 spg, .520 fg%, .405 3-pt fg%, .936 ft%
F – Erica Herrold: 11.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, .415 fg%, .350 3-pt fg%, .745 ft%