SEWARD, Neb. – Coming off a national runner-up season in 2014-15, the Concordia University women’s basketball team has been picked by league coaches to place second in this year’s GPAC race. With 101 total points and one first-place vote, head coach Drew Olson’s squad slotted in behind only defending national champion Morningside (121 points, 11 first-place votes) in the poll released on Wednesday.
Last season the Bulldogs went 35-3 overall, won the GPAC tournament and advanced to the NAIA Division II national championship game. Olson returns eight players from the 2015 national tournament roster, including starters in senior Becky Mueller and 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year Mary Janovich. On the other hand, Concordia says goodbye to national player of the year Bailey Morris and second team All-American Tracy Peitz.
Over the past four seasons, the Bulldogs have won 85 percent of their league games (68-12). During Olson’s first nine seasons at the helm of the program, Concordia has won two GPAC regular-season titles (2012 and 2014) and two conference tournament championships (2012 and 2015). The Bulldogs have made national tournament trips four-straight years and in seven of the past eight seasons under Olson.
Mueller and the Bulldogs open up their season on Friday, Nov. 6 at the 16th annual Cattle Classic when they host Mayville State University (N.D.).
2015-16 GPAC women’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll
1. Morningside – 121 points (11 first-place votes)
2. Concordia – 101 (1)
3. Briar Cliff – 100
4. College of Saint Mary – 82
5. Northwestern – 75
6. Hastings – 64
7. Doane – 63
8. Dakota Wesleyan – 59
9. Mount Marty – 49
10. Dordt – 37
11. Midland – 30
12. Nebraska Wesleyan – 11
SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s basketball program has extended its active run of consecutive national rankings to 53. On Tuesday the Bulldogs checked in at No. 4 in the 2015-16 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. Tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s program has been included in every ranking released since the 2011-12 preseason poll. In addition, this is the eighth-straight year that Concordia has been ranked in the preseason.
The Bulldogs finished last season at No. 2 in the poll following a loss to Morningside in the 2015 national championship game. Concordia went 35-3 overall and captured the GPAC tournament title during arguably the best season in school history. This season Olson returns eight players from his national tournament roster, but says goodbye to national player of the year Bailey Morris and second team All-American Tracy Peitz.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Concordia has been ranked inside the top 10 of all but two polls and has garnered top-five national rankings a total of 31 times. The 2014-15 senior class played every single game for a ranked Bulldog squad over its four seasons. Since the NAIA initiated the postseason rating following the national tournament in 2012, Concordia has been placed at No. 3 (2011-12), No. 9 (2012-13), No. 13 (2013-14) and No. 2 (2014-15).
The program has held the No. 1 ranking a total of 11 times, including the final seven polls of the 2002-03 season and the first four ratings of the 2012-13 campaign. The 2014-15 Bulldogs became the first in program history to reach the national title game and was the fourth Concordia women’s basketball team to advance to the national semifinals. In Olson’s nine seasons, six of his teams have ended the season in the top 25 (see below).
Based on the preseason poll, the Bulldogs are scheduled to play a total of eight games against ranked teams during the 2015-16 regular-season: No. 1 Morningside (twice), No. 6 University of Jamestown, No. 7 Briar Cliff (twice), No. 15 College of Saint Mary (twice) and No. 24 Mayville State University.
Preseason top 25 rankings under Olson
Final end of season top 25 rankings under Olson
At a glance:
2014-15 Record: 35-3 overall, 18-2 GPAC (2nd); GPAC tournament champs; national runner up
Head Coach: Drew Olson (226-78, 9 years; 7 national tournament appearances; 4 GPAC regular-season/tournament titles)
Returning Starters: Mary Janovich (So.), Becky Mueller (Sr.)
Other Key Returners: Brenleigh Daum (So.), Devin Edwards (Jr.), Jade Gottier (So.), Laurel Krohn (So.), Jenna Lehmann (Sr.), Shelby Quinn (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Maddie Egr, Quinn Wragge
Key Losses: Kelsey Hizer, Bailey Morris, Jericca Pearson, Tracy Peitz
2014-15 GPAC All-Conference: Bailey Morris (player of the year; first team), Tracy Peitz (first team), Mary Janovich (second team), Becky Mueller (second team), Kelsey Hizer (honorable mention)
2014-15 NAIA All-America: Bailey Morris (player of the year; first team), Tracy Peitz (second team)
Some of the names will be different, but don’t expect a well-established program cultivated by 10th-year head coach Drew Olson to change its ways. Sure the fourth-ranked Bulldogs will miss national player of the year Bailey Morris, second team All-American Tracy Peitz and the rest of last season’s heralded senior class, but there’s little sense of panic inside the program.
Concordia will still play a frenetic pace, shoot plenty of outside jumpers and put immense pressure on opponents with an aggressive defensive style. Some concern that may have lingered from all of the key departures has been eased during a successful preseason in which the Bulldogs have displayed a potentially prolific 3-point shooting team.
“I think every season is different and unique,” Olson said. “Every season you have new players and you’ve lost some from the previous season. Obviously we lost a lot of key players from last year’s team so that changes our team. It’s been kind of fun coaching. It’s a new challenge. It’s a new dynamic. We’re all trying to learn new roles and figure out how to win with this team.”
Concordia may have lost two All-Americans, but it returns eight players with national tournament experience. The Bulldogs bring back second team all-conference performers in Becky Mueller (10.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and rising star Mary Janovich (9.8 ppg, 2.11 spg), the 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year.
Janovich grew up quickly while following the lead of Morris and Peitz as a key contributor in last season’s thrilling run to the national title game. The Gretna, Neb., native started 33 games and proved ready for the big time. At the national tournament she averaged 11.4 points while sizzling from 3-point range, where she went 13-for-24 (.542). Plus she’s a major pain, in a good way, on the defensive end.
It’s her time to shine, but Olson says Janovich doesn’t have to feel like she has to be the go-to player.
“I think she’s just going to have to continue to find her owns shots and maybe look to create a little bit more than she did last year,” Olson said. “She’s an awesome defender. She’s very capable of knocking down threes and advancing her game and being a little more aggressive this season.”
The standard has been raised to the point where Concordia managed a lofty placement of second in the league’s preseason poll as well as its 53rd-straight top 25 appearance. Still, the team has dealt with offseason question marks in regards to how this group will get along without the program’s all-time leading scorer. Mueller, who has 737 career points over two seasons, wants to show that the 2015-16 team is able to stand on its own merit.
“We have a lot of talent,” Mueller said. “I think we have a lot of talent that people don’t realize. It’s going to be fun to just go out there and play. There’s going to be nothing to lose. It’s going to be fun to show people what we’ve got.”
What they’ve got are several sophomores who Olson believes have made significant strides during the offseason. That group is laden with talented guards in Brenleigh Daum (5.8 ppg, .303 3-pt FG%), Jade Gottier (3.0 ppg) and Laurel Krohn (3.4 ppg, .297 3-pt FG%). All are expected to have much larger roles this season and each will have the green light to shoot.
All three endured inconsistencies as freshmen, but they also showed moments of brilliance. Daum lit it up with five first-half treys in a win over Briar Cliff and Krohn enjoyed stretches of hot outside shooting of her own. Plus the class of sophomores defends and handles the ball.
“All three of them had awesome summers,” Olson said. “Jade’s really improved her ball-handling skills. She just keeps getting better each day. We need her to be a little more consistent, but I think that’s true for most of our young players who don’t have a ton of experience. I think Brenleigh Daum is the one who has been the most consistent of those three. When she shoots it you just know it’s going in. Laurel is getting there. You could see it in the summer. She’s another that has to be a little more consistent, but she can really shoot it. She’s a tough ball handler. She’s a fighter. She’s a winner. I expect all three to help us this season.”
For the Bulldogs to make their 15th all-time trip to the national tournament, they will likely need help from their freshman class. Olson expects forwards Quinn Wragge, a 6-foot native of Crofton, Neb., and Maddie Egr, a 5-foot-11 native of Yutan, Neb., to make immediate impacts. Wragge brings especially impressive credentials after having led Crofton High School to three state titles. Olson has seen enough evidence already to know that she’s physically and mentally ready for the rigors of the GPAC. Meanwhile, Egr is similarly talented.
Several other returners are likely to factor into the mix, including junior guard Shelby Quinn, the only Bulldog to appear in all 38 games last season. Quinn is a seasoned veteran who can handle the point guard role. Meanwhile, the lone senior on this year’s roster is forward Jenna Lehmann, who has played in 89 games in her collegiate career. Junior guards Aubri Bro and Devin Edwards and sophomore guard Sydney Feller also add depth for a team that figures to again go deep on its bench.
As Olson and Mueller admit, the biggest difference between this season and last may simply be the absence of a single dominant player. Olson will not expect any one player on this roster to be the next Morris or Peitz. The 2015-16 Bulldogs expect to win as a team. Winning and doing it the right way are long-ingrained hallmarks of the program.
“I think it’s huge,” Mueller says of the program’s winning culture. “We know where we’ve been and we know where we want to be. When we get there it’s not a whole new experience. We’re not going to be deer in the headlights. We’re going to know what it’s like. We’re going to know what to do. I think we’ll be able to handle ourselves a lot better.”
At the same time, there are undeniable unknowns. So many key pieces have moved on that it makes it difficult to peg this team in the preseason. Says Olson, “You can’t expect us to be in the national title game again. I just expect us to get better every day. Hopefully we reach our potential. I don’t really know what that is right now until we get into games.”
The Bulldogs officially open their season on Friday (Nov. 6) at the 16th annual Cattle Classic when they host No. 24 Mayville State University (N.D.). Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.
SEWARD, Neb. – The No. 4 Concordia women’s basketball team showed no setbacks in its opening game of the 2015-16 season. The Bulldogs defeated No. 24 Mayville State University 109-79 Friday evening inside Walz Arena. Four different Bulldogs scored in double digits in the victory.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “I had no idea what to expect just because we have such an inexperienced group and they’ve been waiting to play for so long. All these other teams have played three or four games. So I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought we came out and looked nervous but we played really well tonight.”
The game was the first contest for the Bulldogs who are now 1-0 on the season while the Comets suffered their first loss and drop to 4-1 this year.
“We’re going to get up and down and shoot a lot of threes,” Olson stated. “We just have to shoot well and defend well. I thought we did a nice job of that, especially in the first half.”
Olson’s squad shot .531 (43-81) from the field and .455 (15-33) from behind the arc. The team grabbed 40 rebounds and snatched up 15 steals.
Sophomore Brenleigh Daum said, “We’ve had a long preseason and we were all really ready to get out there and show what we were doing in practice. Coach has a lot of confidence in us and we have confidence in ourselves and we were all ready and gunning to go. This year we don’t have those key players so we knew we had to be a really big team this year and create open shots for our teammates.”
Daum led the Bulldogs with 19 points. The sophomore also grabbed two rebounds and one steal. Also scoring in double digits for the squad were Quinn Wragge (16), Becky Mueller (15) and Sydney Feller (12). The rebound column was extremely balanced with every Bulldog grabbing at least one rebound and Aubri Bro leading the pack with five.
The only time the Bulldogs did not have the lead in the game was 50 seconds into the contest when the Comets drained a 3-pointer. The Bulldogs quickly answered back to give themselves a 4-3 lead and never looked back.
During the first quarter, CUNE took a nine point lead, 27-18, outshooting MSU from the field, 55 percent to 44.4 percent. The end of the first frame saw a 9-2 Bulldog run, each bucket coming from a different Bulldog.
Concordia started the second quarter without skipping a beat, scoring 12 straight in less than two minutes of play. After a half of play the ‘Dogs led 61-33 and owned a .543 shooting percentage. The 34 points scored in the second quarter was the most scored in a 10 minute period during the game.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs tacked on an additional 27 while leading by at least 28 tallies for the entire frame. The shooting percentage of .507 from the field during the third frame was the lowest that Concordia saw during the contest.
Junior Carissa Gutz scored the 100th points for the ‘Dogs from the paint half way through the final period. The 109 points scored by CUNE was three short from tying last season’s high score of 112 vs York College.
“We played twice them (University of Jamestown) last year,” Olson noted on his squad’s next opponent. “We ended their season last year and they’re looking forward to this game. I know they lost to Doane but I bet a lot of their players looked past Doane thinking about us and I know they’re going to be ready…it’s going to be a tough game tomorrow.”
The No. 4 Concordia women’s basketball team will face the No. 6 University of Jamestown Jimmies Saturday, Nov. 7. Tip-off for the Bulldogs’ last Cattle Classic tilt will be at 1 p.m. inside Walz Arena.
SEWARD, Neb. – The No. 4 Concordia women’s basketball team defeated No. 6 University of Jamestown in the final matchup of the Cattle Classic, 86-69 on Saturday afternoon. Senior Becky Mueller and freshman Quinn Wragge received all-tournament honors for the Bulldogs.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “I knew Jamestown was a really good team. They made us struggle in the first half. In the second half, we did some things a little bit better offensively. We found Becky Mueller for a stretch that really go things going. To me, I thought it was more of a defensive pressure and making defensive stops.”
Olson’s team improved to 2-0 on the season while the Jimmies fall to 3-2 this year.
As a team, the bulldogs shot .405 (30-74) from the field and .429 (9-21) from the 3-point range. Mueller contributed nearly half of the 3-pointers with four. The senior had a point total of 25, which led the team, and added four rebounds and one block to her line.
“I’m not surprised by our team, I’m just really proud of them,” Olson noted. “Becky was on fire and is a really good player and versatile. We can post her up, but if we have a bigger player in we can stretch the defense. To me, that was the difference in a four or five point game and then she goes off for a couple threes in a row.”
Wragge and sophomore Mary Janovich each added 15 tallies to the Bulldogs total. Wragge grabbed seven rebounds and one steal while Janovich had three boards and two steals. After coming off a double digit scoring performance on Friday, Brenleigh Daum put up eight points, three rebounds and dished out four assists.
The largest lead for either team throughout the first half was four with the score tied eight different times. Late in the second quarter, the ‘Dogs went up by four after a Mueller second chance bucket. The Jimmies were able to cut the lead to two with a pair of free throws with 1:33 left in the second period. The Bulldogs went to the locker room with a two point lead, 38-36.
After two quarters, Concordia held the advantage in field goal percentage. The Bulldogs shot .410 (16-39) while the Jimmies shot .400 (12-30) from the field.
The third period saw a similar fashion in score changes. CUNE’s largest lead was eight points that came late in the frame. In the fourth quarter, however, the Bulldogs pulled away going on a 10-1 run. Concordia held Jamestown to just 13 points in the final period.
The No. 4 Concordia women’s basketball team will be back in action after a week and a half break. The Bulldogs will open GPAC play at Hastings on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and then play at home on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Seward.
On upcoming play Olson said, “When we start in conference, it’ll be a tough stretch, both are good teams being in the final four, but I’m really proud of our kids to start the season off 2-0.”
HASTINGS, Neb. – In a conference-opening battle of perennially powerful GPAC programs, the fourth-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team went on the road for the first time this season and saw an 11-point second-half lead melt away. The host Broncos dominated the fourth quarter and remained unbeaten by snaring a 74-67 victory inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Wednesday night.
Hastings ended a three-game series losing streak versus Concordia by playing the role of the aggressor down the stretch. After Mary Janovich’s layup to open up the fourth quarter, very little went right the rest of the way for the Bulldogs.
“We’ve talked about having to find ways to win when we don’t shoot well,” said 10th-year head coach Drew Olson. “We’re a jump-shooting team, but when we don’t shoot well we can’t cave like that. It had nothing to do with the layoff (10 days without a game). We played fine the first three quarters. It was about our lack of aggressiveness.”
Hastings guard Abby Jackson emerged with a back-breaking triple after Teeka Thompson’s steal. At that point, the Broncos led 66-61 courtesy of a 19-4 run that culminated with less than two minutes left in the game. Hastings (5-0, 1-0 GPAC) outscored Concordia 30-15 in the final quarter when it lived at the free throw line (11-for-16).
Devoid of the senior leadership that drove the Bulldogs to the 2015 national championship game, Concordia failed to stem the tide down the stretch. The miserable fourth quarter compounded its struggles from 3-point range (5-for-26) and an inability to create turnovers (12 by Hastings) the way it always has under Olson.
After flashing an impressive offensive display at the Cattle Classic in wins over No. 6 University of Jamestown and No. 24 Mayville State University, the Bulldogs placed just two players in double figures: Janovich (14 points) and Brenleigh Daum (11 points). Freshman Quinn Wragge recorded six points and 11 boards. Fellow freshman Maddie Egr tallied nine points (4-for-4 shooting).
Hastings actually shot a lower percentage from the field (.396 to .407), but consistently reached the foul line (26-for-45) while getting into the paint on a regular basis in the final quarter. Thompson topped the Broncos with 16 points (10-for-15 free throw shooting). Rachel Jelden notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Hastings has knocked off a pair of top-10 ranked teams under first-year head coach Jina Johansen. The Broncos also defeated No. 9 Tabor College, 57-54, on Nov. 14.
The Bulldogs now look forward to Saturday’s showdown with top-ranked Morningside (6-0, 1-0 GPAC) in a rematch of last year’s NAIA Division II national championship game. The Mustangs return all five starters from their 2014-15 team that lost just a single game (versus Concordia) and went undefeated in GPAC regular-season action.
SEWARD, Neb. – For 30 minutes, the fourth-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with a Morningside squad that returned nearly all of its key pieces after hanging a national title banner last season. Everything then unraveled in the fourth quarter as the visiting Mustangs claimed a 77-66 win inside Walz Arena on Saturday. Top-ranked Morningside (7-0, 2-0 GPAC) remains undefeated.
On the other hand, 10th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad slumped to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in league play. Just like their loss three days earlier at Hastings, the Bulldogs’ high level of play fell off in the fourth quarter.
“We played our tails off for three quarters,” Olson said. “It was like we were looking for somebody else to save us as opposed to going out there and winning the game. We don’t do the little things in the fourth quarter right now when things get tough.”
The Mustangs got rolling in the final quarter. Morningside turned a tie game into a 13-point lead (65-52) by blitzing Concordia down the stretch. Four different Mustangs scored during the 15-0 game-defining run that included Taylor Bahensky’s crippling triple. The run mercifully concluded when Becky Mueller drained a three at the 5:02 mark of the period.
But the Bulldogs failed to cut the deficit to fewer than nine points the rest of the way. Morningside salted the game away by making hay at the free throw line (12-for-16 over the final 5:16). Bahensky made all 12 of her tries from the charity stripe as part of a game-high 19-point performance.
Concordia trailed by just a single point at halftime and quickly jumped out to a five-point lead in the third period that opened with a Brenleigh Daum corner trey. The Bulldogs built an advantage as large as five points on three different instances during the third period.
Both teams dealt with foul trouble from key players. Post Jessica Tietz fouled out after playing in 21 minutes. She managed 12 points and six rebounds. Daum was whistled for two fouls less than two minutes into the game and played a total of only 14 minutes before fouling out in the fourth period.
Mueller kept Concordia afloat offensively with an 18-point output. She went 5-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Sophomore Mary Janovich and freshman Quinn Wragge put up 13 points apiece. Wragge made 6-of-7 shots from the floor.
Winner of 30-consecutive GPAC regular-season games, Morningside held its biggest advantage at the foul line. The Mustangs went 30-for-41 (.732) from the free throw line while the Bulldogs were 10-for-15 (.667). Morningside was also plus-six in turnover margin (23-17).
The Bulldogs will seek their first conference win again on Tuesday when they travel to rival Doane (4-3, 0-2 GPAC) for a 6 p.m. game. Concordia has won each of the last eight meetings with the Tigers, who have suffered GPAC losses to Midland and Mount Marty this season.
REDDING, Calif. – The 14th-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team held a 20 point advantage over Simpson University on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs got an 81-61 victory over the Red Hawks, shooting just under .500 at .461 (30-65) from the field.
CUNE improves to 9-3 this season. Simpson falls to 3-9 this year. The Red Hawks had previously won three of their last four before the loss from Concordia.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “I was pleased with getting the win. It was a tough road win…I thought Simpson played really well. We did a lot of uncharacteristic things. We made bad decisions on offense. Thankfully we did shoot well. We can play a lot better and I’m sure we will. It was a good win. To beat them on their own floor this far away from home is a good win.”
Although the Red Hawks took more shots than the Bulldogs, it was the ‘Dogs that had more shots fall, giving them a .461 percentage from the field while holding Simpson to .373 in field goal percentage. Concordia shot .352 from 3-point land, making 12.
Concordia forced 20 Simpson turnovers and scored 22 points off those turnovers. The Bulldogs blocked four shots while grabbing 10 steals on the night.
Leading CUNE in scoring was Brenleigh Daum who scored 20 points, 18 of them coming from behind the arc. The sophomore’s 20 tallies is a career high, beating her previous best of 19 points, set earlier this season against Mayville State.
“Brenleigh obviously was a key to the game,” Olson said. “She knocked down her shots and shot well. Mary (Janovich) was phenomenal the whole game. She got in foul trouble so she didn’t get to play the whole game but she was fantastic. Shelby (Quinn) was really solid at point guard. Quinn (Wragge) had a really nice second half.”
Three more Bulldogs scored in the double digits, including Wragge who scored 15. The freshman led the team in rebounds with seven. Becky Mueller added 19 to the scoring column while Janovich put up 13 points.
As a team, Concordia committed a season-high 25 turnovers. The Red Hawks scored just 13 points off of those turnovers, keeping the Bulldogs lead alive. Despite the lofty number of turnovers, the ‘Dogs were able to seal a win and will move on with their game-by-game mentality.
“It’s a win, we’ll move on but I wish we played a little bit better.”
Pacific Union is up next on the Bulldogs’ slate. The two squads will play on Wednesday at 4 p.m. CDT. The Pioneers are 0-12 on the season.
REDDING, Calif. – The 14th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team rattled off the first 13 points of Wednesday’s contest and ran away with a 93-55 victory over Pacific Union College (Calif.) in a game played on the Simpson University campus in Redding, Calif. Eleven different Bulldogs splashed in at least one 3-point field goal and junior Erin Vieselmeyer fueled the win with a career high 15 points.
Tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad pushed its overall record to 10-3 by way of its sixth-straight triumph. The Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 against nonconference opponents.
“We played well. I’m glad we were able to cut down on our turnovers,” Olson said. “Our bench played much better and we moved the ball really well. We’re looking forward to coming back and getting back to conference play.”
Vieselmeyer tallied 11 of her 15 points over the opening 20 minutes and even contributed to the 3-point barrage with a triple just before the halftime buzzer sounded. Entering the game ranked fourth nationally in made 3-point field goals per game, Concordia went 13-for-26 (.500) from long range on the way to torching the winless Pioneers (0-13) of the California Pacific Conference.
Said Olson of Vieselmeyer, “She was always in the right spot. Her spacing was good and her teammates found her.”
Olson credited backup point guard Jade Gottier (four assists, one turnover) for her ability to get the offense humming on Wednesday. She helped set up Vieselmeyer (7-for-9 from the field) and company for point-blank looks. All 14 Bulldogs who traveled saw action with each registering at least three points in the scoring column.
Freshman Quinn Wragge (10 points and seven boards) joined Vieselmeyer with double figures in scoring. Wragge and fellow rookie Maddie Egr (five points, eight rebounds) played key roles in Concordia’s massive advantage on the boards (53-25) against the outmanned Pacific Union team. Sophomores Sydney Feller and Mary Janovich chipped in nine points apiece.
Jade Mena came off the bench to provide a bright spot for the Pioneers. She totaled 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. Pacific Union knocked down 8-of-17 shots (.471) from beyond the arc.
The biggest roar surfaced from the Concordia bench when senior Jenna Lehmann put an exclamation mark on the victory with her first career trey, which occurred late in the fourth quarter with the Bulldogs padding an insurmountable lead.
The team’s California tour included a dinner at the house of Becky Mueller’s aunt on Sunday, a trip to the Warriors-Kings NBA game on Monday, a win over Simpson University on Tuesday and a victory over Pacific Union to cap it off on Wednesday. Concordia will fly out of California on Thursday morning.
The Bulldogs will then quickly turnaround and host No. 4 Briar Cliff (12-2, 5-2 GPAC) on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. In appreciation for Seward community fans, admission will not be charged. The contest will be a rematch of last year’s national semifinal in which Concordia defeated the Chargers, 72-62.
SEWARD, Neb. – The Mary Janovich from last year’s national tournament run returned on Saturday and the 14th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team put the squeeze on No. 4 Briar Cliff in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs rallied from a deficit as large as 10 points in the 77-75 victory inside Walz Arena.
Janovich’s clutch 3-point shooting helped Concordia run its winning streak to seven. Tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad owns three wins over ranked opponents and now sits at 11-3 overall and 6-3 in conference action. The Bulldogs are 64-8 at home since the beginning of the 2011-12 season.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough game – two really good teams,” Olson said. “It just came down to getting stops and hitting some big shots. We were fortunate enough to do that in the fourth quarter.”
Concordia clamped down in the final stanza and held the Chargers (12-3, 5-3 GPAC) to just eight points in the closing quarter (only two over the last 7:57 of game time). Janovich and junior Shelby Quinn (combined 7-for-11 from 3-point range) took advantage of sputtering Briar Cliff. Janovich knocked down two crucial treys from the right corner before Quinn provided the game’s final points with a triple that made it 77-75 with 2:19 remaining.
Janovich, the 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year, put up 11 of her season high 19 points in the second half in busting up the Briar Cliff 2-3 zone. Meanwhile, the 5-foot-5 Quinn, unafraid to shoot from well beyond the arc, went off for her first career double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) while seeing 32 minutes of action.
“Coach told me and Quinn before the game that we had to look to score,” Janovich said. “Shelby hit some big shots at the beginning and we knew we had to help her out. I was open so I just pulled the trigger.”
Olson’s club also got key performances from freshman Quinn Wragge (13 points and eight rebounds) and senior Jenna Lehmann (nine points, four rebounds). Then there were the unsung efforts of the likes of backup guard Devin Edwards, who came through with a steal and dish to Wragge in another crucial fourth-quarter sequence.
A true team without a primary star, Concordia did the little things right to climb out of a seven-point fourth-quarter hole.
“Jenna Lehmann stepped up against the zone,” Olson said. “Erin Vieselmeyer was great. I’m so proud of how Devin Edwards played with her hustle plays. I thought that was really the difference. She kept scrapping for little things. And then Shelby Quinn and Mary Janovich were always stepping up in big moments.”
There were times in the first half when it appeared as though the hot shooting of Briar Cliff star Morgan Hansen may doom the Bulldogs. She nailed three treys in the first half. She then went 1-for-6 from the field over the final 20 minutes and settled for 18 points. Teammate McKenzie Shipley paced the Chargers with 19 points. The Chargers’ other conference losses have come at the hands of Midland and Northwestern.
Concordia emerged with an impressive win just two days after returning from a 2-0 trip to California. Janovich and company have not lost since suffering a 73-66 defeat at No. 16 Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 5.
The victors shot 48.3 percent (29-for-60) compared to 45.0 percent (27-for-60) for Briar Cliff. The 3-point happy Bulldogs were 11-for-29 (.379) from long distance.
The Bulldogs begin a stretch of three-straight road games on Wednesday when they travel to Fremont for a 6 p.m. tipoff with Midland (7-8, 5-3 GPAC). Concordia has won each of the last 14 meetings with the Warriors.
FREMONT, Neb. – The newly 10th-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team snuck out of Fremont with a win Wednesday night. The Bulldogs defeated Midland University, 59-57 in their eighth-straight win.
Concordia, 12-3 overall and 7-3 in the GPAC, dealt the Warriors their ninth loss of the season, dropping them to 7-9 (5-4 GPAC).
Head coach Drew Olson said, “The third quarter was key. I credit Midland for doing some really nice things and getting us out of our rhythm…with everybody we play in this conference, you have to respect them and bring your A game otherwise it’s going to be an ugly battle.”
Freshman Quinn Wragge continues to impress, scoring 14, which tied for a team high, and grabbing eight rebounds. Brenleigh Daum also put up 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
“Quinn had an awesome game,” said Olson. “There’s no way we win that game without her. Her defensive effort on Joelle Overkamp was awesome. Anytime when we needed a basket she got a couple in transition.”
Becky Mueller passed 900 career points after contributing 10 tallies in the contest. The senior needs 99 more to join the 1,000 point club. Mueller also grabbed five rebounds, all offensive.
As a team, CUNE shot .387 from the field and .226 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs struggled from the free throw line, shooting just .286. The percentage is the lowest since the game against Mayville State when the ‘Dogs shot .533 from the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Warriors, 35-32 with 13 offensive boards. CUNE’s defense was able to force 19 turnovers, grab six steals and block one MU shot.
Concordia had an uncharacteristic first half, hitting just two 3-pointers on 17 attempts. The Bulldogs led only once during the first stanza after scoring the first bucket of the game. At the end of the second quarter, Daum scored from distance and completed a layup to cut the Warriors’ lead to two.
“I don’t think we played with that much focus and intensity offensively. We took some really bad shots. Defensively we kind of lost our heads…we were just not as in tune as we were in the third quarter and most of the fourth,” noted Olson.
The third quarter belonged to the Bulldogs as they outscored Midland, 23-12. Daum took over with less than three minutes remaining in the period nailing three 3-pointers, giving the Bulldogs a nine point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Thanks to a layup from Wragge, the Bulldogs had their biggest lead of the game in the fourth quarter at 14. Midland threatened Concordia’s lead going on a 9-1 run to end the game, but it wasn’t enough to take away the Bulldogs’ eighth-straight victory.
Olson said, “I think we have found our identity and that’s why we’re going on this win streak…we have a great team that on any given night, anybody is capable, it doesn’t matter what team we’re playing…we’re very versatile.”
Northwestern College will be the next opponent on the Bulldog’s slate. Concordia will travel to Orange City, Iowa this Saturday for a 2 p.m. start time.
Prepping for the 10th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team is like studying for an exam on neurosurgery. You think you’ve got the gist of it (OK, maybe not), but there’s just so much material to cover. You’ll want to contain 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year Mary Janovich, sure, but she’s just one of five players who average 7.5 points or more and one of 11 Bulldogs who play more than 10 minutes per game.
“I think it would be hard,” says Janovich of preparing for Concordia, currently riding an eight-game winning streak. “They have to be ready for anyone to go off. We don’t have a single player that’s going to just take over the game at any time so they have to prepare for a lot of different players.”
The Bulldogs have remade themselves in the 10th season under head coach Drew Olson. They are decidedly more balanced after relying heavily upon two-time All-Americans Bailey Morris and Tracy Peitz during their 2015 run to the national title game.
Contain Morris. Limit Peitz. Or so one would assume opposing coaches would say. What are they saying now? This year’s squad knocks down 35.8 percent of its 3-point attempts and Olson would tell you that just about everyone has the green light – even from 25 feet out.
“I thought that we’d actually be a tougher team to guard because no one’s going to know,” Olson said. “If you’re scouting us, who are you really going to guard or key in on? I thought that would be an advantage for us. We’ve learned that we don’t need a go-to player at the end of games to get baskets. We just need to continue to play team basketball and look for the best available shot.”
That approach has led to a lot of Quinning – err, winning – thus far for Concordia. After suffering three close losses to teams all currently ranked among the nation’s top 10 squads, the Bulldogs just kept on shooting. Shelby Quinn assumed the starting point guard role on Dec. 9 versus Dordt and Concordia has responded by going 8-0 since then.
This bunch of ‘splash sisters’ has found an identity as a well-rounded team that drills 3-pointers (10.3 per game to be exact), plays solid defense and keeps fresh while Olson makes liberal use of his bench. Most impressive in this team’s early season success is the rapidity in which it figured things out. The Bulldogs were plagued by fourth-quarter struggles in their early losses. Now they’re the ones making clutch plays late in games.
“I think we started to find our identity late in the preseason when we realized Bailey’s not here. Tracy and Kelsey (Hizer) aren’t here,” said sophomore Brenleigh Daum, another Bulldog known for letting it fly from long range. “Some of us need to step up. Mary did a really good job doing that and Becky (Mueller) has taken over her role. I feel like Shelby Quinn is a really huge leader. I feel like each one of us took on our roles and are getting better every day. We’re stepping up and figuring out how each one of us can make plays.”
In last week’s win over then fourth-ranked Briar Cliff, Concordia had to rally from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to record its third win of the season over a top-25 opponent. Janovich made two crucial treys from the right corner and the fearless 5-foot-5 Quinn nailed the game winner from well beyond the arc. Said Olson, “I go back and look on video and I’m like, ‘holy cow, that was really deep.’”
Teams that lean upon 3-point shooting are liable to run hot and cold, but the Bulldogs have remained frozen-pizza-just-out-of-the-oven hot throughout most of the season’s first half. You might not find a Kristen Conahan (323 career 3-point field goals) on this year’s roster, but the list of options are seemingly endless.
“It’s easily the best shooting team I’ve had,” Olson said. “We’ve had other phenomenal shooters – Amber Kistler, Kristen Conahan, Melissa Tinkham. They’re some of the best shooters we’ve ever had in our program. I just don’t think we’ve ever had a team that was just so full of shooters. In our starting lineup all five can knock down threes – and deep threes, too, like Shelby hit (versus Briar Cliff).”
After Hizer, Morris, Peitz and Jericca Pearson moved on, it was obvious that bigger roles and increased playing time would be up for grabs. Holdovers such as the aforementioned Daum, Janovich and Quinn took advantage. Others have done the same, including returnees Devin Edwards, Sydney Feller and Erin Vieselmeyer (Viesel fuel!) and a pair of freshmen in Maddie Egr and Quinn Wragge.
In stark contrast to the 2014-15 campaign, Mueller and Jenna Lehmann are the only seniors on this year’s roster.
“It’s definitely different (than last year),” Edwards said. “There’s more opportunity for different people to step up in different games, knowing there’s not necessarily one person we’re really leaning on. It’s on the whole team to come together and have someone step up and make a play.”
Wragge has been everything her head coach hoped she’d be as a freshman. She’s solid on the defensive end and the 6-foot-1 native of Crofton, Neb., excels at running the floor and beating opponents for easy buckets. After 15 games, she leads the team in scoring. If that holds up she’d be the first freshman to top Concordia in points since Sarah Harrison (Concordia Hall of Famer) did so in 2001-02. Wragge came to Seward eager for early playing time, but more than anything she’s glad to be part of a young and thriving squad.
“I was excited for that reason but also for a new team,” Wragge said. “I think we have a really young team and a team that can be good this year, but we had to kind of figure it out. It’s challenging, but really exciting.”
Egr has also found her way to the court in no time. Olson credits the native of Yutan, Neb., with saving the Bulldogs in wins at Doane and at Dordt. Her growth is one of many reasons why Concordia is surging.
“I know we lost a couple games right off the bat,” Egr said. “Those were frustrating, but they weren’t bad losses. We had some really good things we did during those games. Of course we had things we needed to work on, but I knew we’d get there. We’ve started to put those things together as a team. I think now we’re getting there.”
What is the ceiling for this revamped edition of Concordia women’s basketball? Olson cautioned before the season that it would be unrealistic to expect a return to the national championship game. If the team-oriented Bulldogs improve over the second half of the season like they did during the first, March could provide more thrills – but the team’s point guard isn’t thinking about that just yet.
“I don’t know (where we’ll be). We just keep getting better,” Quinn said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team. Ultimately it’s a tough conference. We just have to play every game to the best of our ability and see where we end up.”
Daum: “At first I was like, ‘what the heck is that?’ Then I was like, ‘yeah, that’s actually kind of cool.’ I like it.”
More thoughts from the Bulldogs
Coach Olson: My questions going into the season were who’s going to be the point guard and when we need baskets, who’s going to be the person we can count on? We started with Mary at point guard and I thought that was OK, but I could tell that not all the pieces really fit together. We weren’t really using Mary’s strengths to our advantage. We ended up switching Shelby to point guard and moving Mary back to the wing. I think that’s really helped our team because now we can use Mary as a weapon running the lane and getting transition baskets. We’re able to play a little bit faster that way. I think Shelby gives us a little bit more steadiness at the point guard spot. She doesn’t get rattled. She’s the consistent player every single game regardless of how big a game it is. We’ve learned that we don’t need a go-to player at the end of games to get baskets.
Brenleigh Daum: At the beginning of the season we realized quickly that we were a 3-point shooting team. Coach said, ‘yeah, it’s obvious that we shoot from the outside a lot,’ but he still emphasizes that we need to look into the post a lot and try to get post touches. If those aren’t open, just kick it. He has a lot of confidence in us as shooters – Becky, Shelby, Mary, myself and countless others. All of us can shoot. Coach made it a point that we’re shooters.
I think we all kind of figured out our roles in the preseason. We just kind of went with it. In preseason we didn’t know who was going to start. We were working really hard and battling each other for spots. Ultimately it makes each of us better. We continue to work each day and keep everyone on their toes because you never know. Nothing’s guaranteed.
Devin Edwards: We definitely tried to find what we individually were good at during the summer. We just kept working on that knowing we had to step our game because those seniors were gone. In preseason we definitely worked on coming together as a team and working together as a team and using our individual skills as one.
It definitely would be hard (to prepare for us) just because you never know who’s going to be on that night, who’s going to be shooting well or who Coach is going to throw in there. It would definitely be hard for opponents to scout us out.
Maddie Egr: I was super excited (about playing at Concordia). I was excited when I met Coach Olson and the rest of the coaching staff. I just couldn’t wait for the season to start. I just love this team. I’m excited to be here.
Coach Olson always says he doesn’t promise you anything. He just tells you to work hard and see what comes out of it. I knew if I worked hard I could contribute in some way.
Mary Janovich: I’m honestly not surprised at all (by our 3-point shooting). We’ve always been able to shoot the three well. We’re proving with our stats how good of a 3-point shooting team we are.
Shelby Quinn: I don’t know if I prepared any differently (for this season). I’ve always been trying to do my best to do what I need to do for the team. This season I’ve had a bigger role. I just keep working hard.
A lot of being successful is having confidence in yourself and not being intimidated by the other players. I want them (our younger players) to know that we want them on our team and without them there’s no way that we can be successful. You have to embrace that role and come along for the ride.
Coach always encourages us (to shoot). That’s something that really helps our confidence when you have a coach who’s willing to back you up. He encourages us also just to get in the gym and shoot. If we’re doing that we’re able to perform better.
Quinn Wragge: Having the diversity on our team you know that we’re not going to rely on one person. Someone could have an off night, but someone else could step up. It’s really cool.
I definitely wasn’t expecting (to be leading the team in scoring). It’s not something I’m used to. It’s something I’m trying to get better at. My teammates make awesome passes. They really help me out. Coach has been working with me. It’s a new opportunity for me.
ORANGE CITY, Iowa – A closely-contested opening half gave way to the Kassidy De Jong show in the third quarter. De Jong drained 15 of her game high 29 points during the opening four minutes of the second half in powering host Northwestern to a 99-80 win over the 10th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team in a contest played inside the Bultman Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs failed to duplicate their 83-57 blowout in Orange City a year earlier. The loss snapped Concordia’s eight-game winning streak. Meanwhile, tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad dropped to 12-4 overall and 7-4 in league action.
“Northwestern played really well,” Olson said. “I just don’t think we did enough to beat a good team that played well at their place. It was an entertaining game – back and forth. In the third quarter I regret going zone to start. I think it set the tone for them and got them off a little bit.
“I’m really proud of our kids for fighting back. They did a great job chipping away. Really, we were right there.”
Though Northwestern mounted a 22-point third-quarter lead, the Bulldogs made the Red Raiders earn it. Concordia slashed its deficit all the way down to five (81-76) and nearly got within three when Brenleigh Daum missed a layup in transition midway through the final stanza. The Northwestern defense tightened, allowing it to rattle off a 13-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Long distance shooting brought the Bulldogs back. Down 76-59 late in the third quarter, Daum drained a trey and Mary Janovich followed with a 3-point play. The flurry of hot shooting continued into the fourth quarter when a pair of threes by Aubri Bro and another one from Jade Gottier got Concordia within seven (81-74) with more than seven minutes left in the game. But after Janovich’s layup at the 5:56 mark, the Bulldogs went scoreless for more than four minutes.
De Jong and company shot a blistering 74.1 percent (20-for-27) from the field in the second half while also netting 21-of-25 (.840) free throws for the contest. De Jong was the ring leader for a Red Raider squad that placed four members in double figures in scoring, including Whitney Vander Maten (18), Renee Maneman (14) and Darbi Gustafson (12 points).
Janovich finished with a team high 18 points. Daum let it fly (6-for-20) on the way to 16 points. Off the bench, Bro chipped in nine points on the strength of 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Concordia hung in the game by going 13-for-37 (.351) from 3-point range.
Named GPAC freshman of the year last season, Janovich has scored at least 18 points in two of the last three games.
“I think the whole team is starting to understand how Mary is such a weapon for us,” Olson said. “She runs the lanes so well. She’s getting to be a little bit more aggressive-minded.”
Northwestern, a national champion as recently as 2012, has been a giant killer this season. The Red Raiders are the only team that has defeated No. 2 Morningside. They also topped then No. 7 Briar Cliff, 77-64.
The Bulldogs complete a run of three-straight road games when they take the floor at the Lied Fitness Center in Omaha. Concordia and College of Saint Mary (9-8, 3-7 GPAC) will tip off at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The contest will be a rematch of last year’s national tournament second round game in which the Bulldogs defeated the Flames, 92-82.
OMAHA, Neb – The No. 9 Concordia women’s basketball team fought back after a first quarter deficit to defeat College of Saint Mary 73-67. Freshman Quinn Wragge led the team in scoring with 19 with Brenleigh Daum right behind, scoring 18. Leading all players was the Flames’ post, Deaundra Young who posted 41 points.
After the victory, the Bulldogs improve to 13-4 overall and 8-4 in the GPAC. The Flames drop to 9-9, 3-8 in the conference.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “It was a great game. I thought College of Saint Mary played really well. We knew how good Deaundra Young was and we just figured she was going to get her points. She was even better than we expected. She hit some shots that I didn’t think she would make so credit to her.
“I’m just really proud of our kids and how we kept fighting, especially how big we were down the first quarter. We just kept adapting and figured out how to slow them down. In the fourth quarter Brenleigh Daum hit some big shots to give us the lead and that was the difference.”
As a team, Concordia shot .490 from the field and .391 from 3-point range. The Flames converted 26 of 58 attempts to compile a 44.8 percent. Rebounds were even at 32 while the Bulldogs held a 6-2 advantage in steals.
Along with Wragge’s 19 points, the freshman added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals to her line. Also scoring in double-digits was Mary Janovich who also grabbed two rebounds and dished out four assists.
Wragge said, “It was awesome, they were a really good team. Our first quarter was a little bit rough but then we calmed down and figured it out and stuck to our game plan and did what we needed to do to get the win.”
The first quarter was controlled by the Flames who outscored the Bulldogs 21-9 while going on a 14-2 run to close out the period. Eight of those points came from Young.
“I remember coach at one time was like, ‘Do you guys want to win?’ We just needed to go out there and play our basketball. We were just getting caught up in other stuff and when we stuck to the game plan and did what we needed to do we got the result,” Wragge said.
In the second quarter the Bulldogs closed the gap and tied up the game with just under four minutes to go. Thanks to 3-pointers from Laurel Krohn, Sydney Feller, and Daum, the Bulldogs finally pulled ahead with 20 seconds remaining in the half. A pair of free throws from College of Saint Mary’s Pilar Aldrich gave the Flames a one point lead going into the break.
The ‘Dogs led for the majority of the third quarter before heading into neck and neck final quarter. Scoring eight of the points in the final period was Daum while Shelby Quinn, Wragge and Janovich chalked up five free throws to give the Bulldogs the win.
“I just asked them how bad they wanted to win,” Olson said. “They showed that they really wanted to win tonight. That’s something they need to continue to focus on…it’s a full 40 minutes and not just one or two quarters.”
Up next for the Concordia women’s basketball team is No. 6 Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers will visit Walz Arena on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
LINCOLN, Neb. – The 12th-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team defeated Nebraska Wesleyan, 65-51 Wednesday night. The Bulldogs took over in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Prairie Wolves 24-8. Senior Becky Mueller recorded a double-double scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs improve to 18-6 overall and 11-6 in the GPAC while the Prairie Wolves fall to 4-16 overall and 3-14 in the conference.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “I’m glad we won, obviously, but I was a little disappointed with our effort. I feel like we have to play a lot harder and keep getting better. It came down to us playing really well in one quarter and that was the difference. It shouldn’t come down to that. We need to come with a little bit better focus and intensity and not let it be that kind of game going into the fourth quarter.”
As a team, Concordia shot .338 from the field. Nebraska Wesleyan had a slight advantage in the category, registering a .340 shooting percentage. The Bulldogs out rebounded the Prairie Wolves, 49-34. Concordia also dished out 17 assists and grabbed eight steals.
“Nebraska Wesleyan is way better than they were at the start of the year. They’re doing some nice things defensively, switching from a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 then to some man…With them switching back and forth it got us out of rhythm and we settled a lot for 3-pointers and didn’t get the ball inside as much as we should’ve.”
Mueller’s performance brings her within 18 points of 1,000 career tallies. In addition to the 11 points and 11 rebounds, the senior also dished out two assists and recorded three steals. Also scoring in double digits was Brenleigh Daum with 14. Daum scored 12 of her 14 from 3-point range. Freshman Quinn Wragge tallied 14 points, going 6-10 from the field and also grabbed six rebounds.
The Bulldogs opened the game with a six point lead in the first quarter after 3-pointers from Shelby Quinn and Devin Edwards. Then, thanks to a 6-0 run, the Prairie Wolves took a 12-10 lead. For the majority of the quarter remaining, Wesleyan held the lead. Daum and Aubri Bro didn’t like it and scored seven straight to take a one point lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the leading margin by either team was no more than three until the final minute of play. Jenna Lehmann made a layup to give Concordia a 33-27 lead going into the halftime break. The third period saw a similar scoring pattern with the leads not going above 10.
The Bulldogs exploded in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Prairie Wolves 24-8. Concordia took off after layups from Muller and Wragge and the classic 3-pointer from Daum, all happening over a span just longer than two minutes. The run gave Concordia a 53-47 lead half way through the final period. The Bulldog defense allowed just two more Prairie Wolf layups the rest of the game to seal a 65-51 victory.
“I was pleased with our group that played in the fourth quarter,” Olson said. There’s positives to take away from the game, I just know that we need to keep getting better and play with more focus and intensity as we play tougher teams going forward.”
The No. 12 Concordia women’s basketball team will be back in action tomorrow it takes on Grace University. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. inside Walz Arena in Seward.
SEWARD, Neb. – The 12th-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team dominated Grace University Thursday night in an 85-50 victory. The Bulldogs shot .478 on the night with all players getting minutes.
The Bulldogs improve to 19-6 overall while the Royals fall to 7-19.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “I was really happy with how we played. In the first quarter I don’t think we scored as well as we can. The second, third and fourth quarters I thought we hit shots and played really well. Overall, our defense was really good the whole game.”
Shooting .478 from the field, Concordia made 10 3-pointers. The Royals shot .405 from the field but took just 42 shots compared to the Bulldogs’ 69. Concordia outrebounded Grace 43-26 and grabbed 16 offensive boards.
Leading in the scoring column was freshman Quinn Wragge with 12 points. Wragge played just 15 minutes and went 6-7 from the field. Aubri Bro made three-of-five from behind the arc and scored 11 total points. Bro also grabbed four rebounds. Also scoring 11 was Erin Vieselmeyer who had five boards and dished out two assists. Sophomore Jade Gottier scored 10 and tacked on four assists to her line.
The stingy Concordia defense was able to force 30 turnovers and get 25 points off of those. The Bulldog bench tallied 41 points in the contest.
“Everybody has the ability to play,” Olson said. “Sometimes it’s based on matchups on who plays the big minutes. I’m very confident in all of them. Jenna (Lehmann) played well. Carissa Gutz had great energy and a spark off the bench so hopefully we can continue that.”
The Bulldogs got out to a rocky start in the first quarter, trailing by as much as seven and not gaining the lead until more than eight minutes had passed. A 3-pointer from Shelby Quinn gave the ‘Dogs their first lead of the game. About half way through the second period, Brenleigh Daum hit a trey to put the Bulldogs up by 11. Concordia had a double digit lead the rest of the game.
Three and a half minutes into the second half, Olson benched his starters and showed off the depth of his team. Sydney Feller hit a shot from behind the arc late in the third quarter to put the Bulldogs up by 22. Concordia then went on a 5-0 run to close out the quarter.
During the final quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Royals, 17-8. Thanks to a 3-pointer from Bro and a pair of free throws from Gottier, Concordia again went on a 5-0 run to end the contest.
“It’s good to get confidence. Sydney Feller and Jade Gottier hit some three’s to build that confidence so that going into the next the game, maybe they can knock down some shots for us,” Olson said.
The No. 12 Concordia women’s basketball team will be back in action this Saturday as it takes on second-ranked Morningside College. The game in Sioux City, Iowa is set to begin at 2 p.m. Earlier this season the Bulldogs were handed a 77-66 loss in Seward from the Mustangs.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A monster performance from budding freshman Quinn Wragge sprang the 12th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team to life midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s tussle at No. 2 Morningside. But the defending national champion Mustangs held everyone not named Wragge to 24.4 percent shooting on their way to a 79-65 victory.
The loss in Concordia’s eighth game of the season against a top-25 opponent dropped tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad to 19-7 overall and 11-7 in GPAC action.
“I’m really proud of how our kids competed,” Olson said. “Morningside’s a great team. They’re an elite team with all their kids back from the national title team. There were a lot of moments where we did things really well. Quinn Wragge was phenomenal. Shelby Quinn had a really nice game. She kept attacking and kept competing. That’s what I wanted to see out of our team – that fight.”
Wragge shined brightly on the Ross Verdoorn Gymnasium floor. The Crofton, Neb., native was nearly automatic inside, making 13 of 16 shots from the field in route to a career best 29 points. On an afternoon when the outside shots weren’t falling (4-for-26 from 3-point range), Wragge kept the Bulldogs afloat in a tough road environment.
With Morningside (24-2, 16-2 GPAC) seemingly in full control, Wragge went to work with three-straight buckets that got Concordia within 11 (70-59) and forced a Mustang timeout with 4:55 remaining in the game. Jordyn Wollenburg put down the uprising with a crippling trey on the ensuing possession to restore order. The Bulldogs never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Morningside aggressively attacked Concordia, resulting in 38 free throw attempts (26 successful). Potent inside presence Jessica Tietz had 18 points (7-for-9 from the field) to top the Mustangs, who have now clinched at least a share of the GPAC regular-season title. Four others reached double figures in scoring for Morningside, including Lexi Ackerman, who turned in a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds). Tietz and company managed to foul out three Bulldogs.
“They’re a great defensive team and they’re long,” Olson said of Morningside. “They do what they do really well in that 2-3 zone. Offensively we have to do a little better job attacking and being more aggressive off the dribble. We’ve got to hit the high post, hit the low post. When we did that we showed that we can play. We just didn’t do it enough and obviously we have to hit shots.”
Outside of Wragge, Concordia struggled to gain traction offensively. The other four Bulldog starters combined for just three made field goals and were a collective 2-for-19 from beyond the arc. Though junior Shelby Quinn went 2-for-10 from the field, she nailed all 10 of her free throws and totaled 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Concordia never held a lead on Saturday. Morningside jumped out to a 15-3 lead while riding Tietz (eight points during the run). The Bulldogs followed with a 12-3 spurt with Wragge serving as the ring leader. Morningside, 12-2 at home this season, built a 37-28 lead going into the halftime break.
The Bulldogs begin a stretch of three-straight conference home games on Wednesday when Midland (7-18, 5-13 GPAC) visits Walz Arena for a 6 p.m. tipoff. Concordia has won each of the last 15 meetings with the Warriors, who have lost 12-consecutive games since a 78-75 overtime upset at then fourth-ranked Briar Cliff.
SEWARD, Neb. – A transition-fueled 24-6 run to start the game propelled the Concordia University women’s basketball team to another dominant victory over rival Midland inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the evening on the way to an 81-59 win, the 16th straight in the series against the Warriors.
The result gave the program 21st all-time 20-win season and eighth in the 10 years under current head coach Drew Olson. At 20-7 overall and 12-7 in league play, Concordia now sits in a jumbled five-way tie for second place in the GPAC.
The nasty, suffocating Bulldog defense of old surfaced right out of the gate against an overmatched Midland squad. Concordia feasted on Warriors turnovers, oftentimes turning them into easy buckets for the gazelle-like freshman Quinn Wragge. Midland managed just a single first-quarter field goal and found itself down 17 after 10 minutes of action.
“I thought we came out with better energy and a bit more focus,” Olson said. “I thought they executed some of the sets that we ran really well. I just felt like we played harder and that’s what I was looking for.”
Wragge went silent for parts of the second and third quarters, but teammate Aubri Bro got Steph Curry ridiculous from beyond the arc. She nailed all five of her attempts from long range, including a hot-potato quick fire at the beginning of the fourth quarter that bulged the lead above 20. Bro, now 22-for-43 from 3-point range on the season, finished with a team high 15 points.
She provided the bulk of the long-range firepower for a squad that splashed in 12-of-27 (.444) tries from beyond the arc.
“(Aubri) was phenomenal,” Olson said. “We just keep telling her: she’s got to be more aggressive because her numbers are awesome. It’s just a matter of getting her a little bit more comfortable out there. She can really score.”
Junior Erin Vieselmeyer supplied big minutes off the bench, going for 13 points and six rebounds. The reserves outscored the starting five, 42-39, largely thanks to the combined 28 from Bro and Vieselmeyer. Starters Quinn Wragge (14 points) and Shelby Quinn (six assists) were key contributors. Wragge starred with seven of Concordia’s first nine points of the game.
The Warriors (7-19, 5-14 GPAC), who have lost 13-straight games, dressed only nine players on Wednesday. Midland got a game high 16 points from its star, Joelle Overkamp, but she managed to go only 3-for-14 from the field. Fellow standout backcourt mate Megan Kucks went 2-for-11 from the floor and had eight points. The Warriors were bothered into 35.3 percent (18-for-51) shooting.
Concordia led by as many as 26 points and may have grown an even larger lead if not for its 21 turnovers. The Bulldogs made up for some of that sloppiness by shooting 50.8 percent (30-for-59) from the field. They also owned a decided 41-25 advantage on the boards.
The three-game homestand continues on Saturday when Northwestern (14-11, 9-10 GPAC) pays a visit to Walz Arena for a 2 p.m. tipoff. In this season’s first meeting, the Red Raiders topped the Bulldogs, 99-80, in Orange City, Iowa, behind a game high 29 points by freshman Kassidy De Jong. Concordia is 68-9 over its last 77 home games, dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 season.
SEWARD, Neb. – A standout in the classroom and on the court, senior Becky Mueller has been named to the 2015-16 Academic All-District Women’s Basketball Team (District 3) by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), as announced on Thursday. Mueller’s all-district award is the second-straight for Concordia women’s basketball. Last season Bailey Morris garnered the same award.
The CoSIDA Academic All-District® Women’s Basketball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. For more information about the Academic All-District™ and Academic All-America® Teams program, please visit http://cosida.com.
Mueller has produced a near spotless GPA while majoring in biology on a pre-physician assistant track. The native of Elkhorn, Neb., is in her third season as a starter for head coach Drew Olson’s nationally-recognized program. A key contributor in last season’s run to the national championship game, Mueller has averaged 10.6 points and has drilled 145 3-point field goals in 94 career games as a Bulldog. She enters the weekend three points shy of becoming the 24th player in program history to reach 1,000 for a career. She earned second team all-conference honors in 2014-15.
Mueller joins a long list of Concordia athletes to receive all-district accolades over the past two seasons. The 2014-15 academic year saw a school record 11 Bulldogs collect such recognition. This year’s honorees include Chandler Folkerts (men’s basketball), Hallick Lehmann (football), Adam Meirose (football) and Mueller.
District 3 of the College Division covers institutions in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. First-team Academic All-District™ honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
2015-16 academic all-district honorees
Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball
2014-15 academic all-district honorees
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Brendan Buchanan, Soccer
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Jaydee Jurgensen, Baseball
Adam Meirose, Football
Bailey Morris, Basketball
*Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Shawn Rodehorst, Golf
Ben Sievert, Cross Country/Track & Field
Melissa Stine, Soccer
SEWARD, Neb. – A matchup featuring the league’s leading candidates for GPAC freshman of the year honors saw the 14th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team avenge a loss that occurred a month earlier. Budding freshman Quinn Wragge and senior Becky Mueller combined for 40 points to power a 71-70 win over Northwestern inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s program has toppled the Red Raiders in each of their last three meetings in Seward. Saturday’s win means Concordia remains deadlocked in second place (four-way tie) in the GPAC at 21-7 overall and 13-7 in conference action.
The Bulldogs held on to beat Northwestern (14-12, 9-11 GPAC) despite a late push from the visitors.
“I’m just really proud of our toughness to find a way to win the game,” Olson said. “Northwestern had a great look. We’re just thankful the ball rimmed out and Quinn did a great job of going and getting the rebound. It was just a great team effort.”
Though outdueled by fellow star rookie Kassidy De Jong in terms of points (32-23), Wragge got the upper hand on the scoreboard thanks to a second-straight smothering home defensive effort. Concordia bothered the Red Raiders into 33.3 percent (22-for-66) shooting and drew a key charge on De Jong with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs didn’t just survive 32 points from De Jong, it also survived a point-blank missed layup by Northwestern’s Haley Birks that would have tied the game in the final seconds. Instead, Wragge came up with the loose ball and then sank two free throws to ice the game.
“It all started on the defensive end,” Wragge said. “We were up and kind of let them get back in it. When it came down to it we had to get stops. That’s what this team did.”
The Red Raiders made Concordia sweat with a late 9-2 run that gave them the chance to tie. A 67-58 lead got dwindled down to 69-67 after a De Jong score in the final minute. The Bulldogs then milked the clock on the ensuing possession that resulted in a shot clock violation. Northwestern took over with 7.5 seconds left and came up agonizingly short of forcing overtime.
In a game that went down the wire, De Jong and Wragge were at center stage in a battle that will play out for another three years.
“Those are by far the two best freshmen in the league,” Olson said. “Both are great players. I love having Quinn on our team. She’s going to keep getting better.”
It didn’t take long on Saturday for Mueller to become the program’s 24th member of the 1,000-point club. The native of Elkhorn, Neb., went past four digits by sinking two free throws at the 8:31 mark of the first quarter. She finished with 17 points and six rebounds and twice helped set up Wragge with baskets in transition.
Wragge recorded her fifth 20-point game of the season by continually beating the Red Raiders down the floor.
“I love it. That’s one of my favorite things to do in a game,” Wragge said of her work in transition. “We’ve got some great guards who make those passes. We’re always hustling and running to get those transition buckets.”
Wragged collected nine rebounds and swatted three shots to go along with her team high 23 points. Shelby Quinn added eight points, five rebounds and four assists. Erin Vieselmeyer pitched in six points and three boards off the bench.
De Jong piled up 11 rebounds to give her a double-double. The only other Red Raider to reach double figures in scoring was Paige Danner, who had 10 points.
The Bulldogs will host their final regular-season home game on Wednesday when College of Saint Mary 15-12, 9-11 GPAC) visits Seward. Tipoff from Walz Arena is set for 7 p.m. In this season’s first matchup, Concordia dowsed the Flames, 73-67, in Omaha.
SEWARD, Neb. – A strong defensive effort kept GPAC leading scorer Deaundra Young contained and the Bulldogs shook off a prolonged scoring drought in racking up another home win (70-9 at home since the start of 2011-12). The latest outing for the 13th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team completed a perfect three-game homestand by way of a 74-62 victory over visiting College of Saint Mary on Wednesday night.
The Flames (15-13, 9-12 GPAC) managed to shoot only 34.3 percent from the floor and the potent one-two punch of Quinn Wragge and Becky Mueller proved difficult to handle. They lifted 10th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad to records of 22-7 overall and 14-7 in the GPAC (three-way tie for second).
“Deaundra Young didn’t want to step out on the perimeter. Either Quinn or Becky was going to get a lot of threes,” Olson said. “Thankfully it was Becky and she knocked them down. Quinn hit one early. I just think it was kind of a matchup nightmare for them because we have so many shooters.”
Young had just two points in the first quarter and finished with 16 points (6-for-13 from the field) and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs hounded the star 6-foot-2 post by sandwiching her between two defenders, often denying her the ball. It made for a relatively quiet night for Young, who scored 41 points in this season’s first meeting, a 73-67 Concordia win in Omaha on Jan. 13.
It was a freshman who upstaged Young. Wragge hustled all over the place in tracking down a career high 18 rebounds (10 offensive). Wragge’s relentlessness on the boards helped Concordia get off to a fast start and build a double-digit first-quarter advantage. She ended up with a game high 18 points and two blocked shots to go along with her 18 rebounds.
Though the Bulldogs seemingly had control early, they failed to score over the final 6:15 of the second quarter and saw a 27-12 lead evaporate. Concordia’s scoring drought lasted nearly eight minutes before Mueller drilled a trey early in the third frame. Order was quickly restored and Mueller and company owned an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs put out the Flames with a back-breaking 7-0 run highlighted by a cold-blooded triple from Jade Gottier. The game was all but over at 69-52 less than a minute later when Erin Vieselmeyer scored inside.
It was an appropriate final regular-season home game for Mueller, a three-year starter, who poured in 17 points and made four shots from beyond the arc.
“It’s definitely fun. It brings back memories from all three years,” Mueller said. “It’s bittersweet because it’s exciting to see what we’ve done but at the same time, this could have been our last game here. That’s sad, but we’re going to keep fighting and hopefully we’ll get another game here (in the GPAC tournament).”
After going 4-for-21 from 3-point range in the first half, Concordia heated up and knocked down 7-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc over the game’s final 20 minutes. The Bulldogs also used an advantage at the free throw line and on the boards (57-43) in earning the regular-season sweep of College of Saint Mary, a first-year member of the GPAC.
Few teams have had an answer for Mueller and Wragge lately. They combined to score 98 points over the past three games – all home GPAC wins. Wragge has been especially impressive during the second half of her rookie season.
“Quinn’s phenomenal. She could go for days,” Olson said of her rebounding efforts. “Her motor’s nonstop going after every rebound. She was fantastic.”
The Bulldogs will close the 2015-16 regular season with a trip to No. 10 Briar Cliff (20-8, 13-8 GPAC) on Saturday. Tipoff from the Flanagan Center is slated for 2 p.m. In this season’s first meeting, Concordia held off the Chargers, 77-75, in Seward.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Another brilliant performance from freshman Quinn Wragge failed to make up for a rash of turnovers committed by the 13th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team. The Bulldogs struggled mightily in the third quarter and fell by a count of 75-55 at No. 10 Briar Cliff on Saturday afternoon.
The loss means 10th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad settles for a tie for fourth in the final GPAC regular-season standings. Concordia will enter the postseason with records of 22-8 overall and 14-8 in the conference.
“Briar Cliff did a great job defensively on us,” Olson said. “We played rushed and never got comfortable on offense. We didn’t take care of the ball enough and didn’t play nearly well enough to beat a really good team on the road.”
Fresh off a career-high 18 rebound performance in Wednesday’s win over College of Saint Mary, Wragge notched her second-straight double-double by racking up game highs of 25 points and 14 rebounds. She played 35 minutes and was again nearly unstoppable in the paint, making 11-of-12 shots from the floor. On the down side, Bulldogs not named Wragge shot a combined 11-for-45 (.244).
Not only did the Chargers (21-8, 14-8 GPAC) lock down Concordia, they also feasted on 24 Bulldog turnovers. Briar Cliff owned an advantage of 27-9 on points off turnovers and pulled away from Concordia with a dominant third quarter. Morgan Hansen, who had a team best 20 points off the bench, tallied eight points during the torrid third quarter shooting effort from the Chargers.
Wragge was the lone Bulldog to reach double figures in scoring. Becky Mueller chipped in nine points, but was 3-for-12 from the field. Eight different Bulldogs committed multiple turnovers.
On the other side, Briar Cliff got a combined 37 points from Hansen and Jessi Corrick (17 points, six rebounds). The Chargers shot 42.0 percent (29-for-69) compared to 38.6 percent shooting (22-for-57) by Concordia.
Concordia won five of its nine regular-season games versus top-25 opponents. Three of those victories came against GPAC teams: No. 4 Briar Cliff, No. 6 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 10 Hastings.
Over the past five games Wragge has reached 20 points on three occasions. Since Dec. 9 she has bumped her season scoring average up from 9.8 to its current stature of 14.3.
The Bulldogs will return to the Flanagan Center on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff as part of the quarterfinals of the GPAC tournament. Fifth-seeded Concordia will take another run at fourth-seeded Briar Cliff. The two teams split the regular-season series.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The 17th-ranked Concordia women’s basketball team suffered a 76-69 defeat to No. 12 Briar Cliff on Wednesday evening. The GPAC quarterfinal game was a rematch of this past weekend’s matchup of the two teams. Freshman Quinn Wragge put up double digits in the scoring column for the 10th straight game after scoring 21 points.
The Bulldogs drop to 22-9 this season while the Chargers move to 22-8.
Head coach Drew Olson said, “We played really hard. I was really proud of the girls. We were right there in the fourth quarter after we took a five point lead. We kind of had this feeling where we were like, ‘We’ve got a chance, we can do this.’ It just came down to the defensive end and doing the little things. Right when we got that lead, they (Briar Cliff) answered with an AND-1 and that allowed them to get back in the game. If we could’ve gotten a stop there, it would have been a different game. Overall, I’m glad we are finding ourselves and competing hard again.”
Concordia shot .373 from the field and .357 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs went 21-for-23 from the free throw line for an impressive 91.3 percent mark. Briar Cliff shot .434 from the field and .444 from behind the arc. The Bulldogs crashed the boards, recording 41 team rebounds compared to the Chargers’ 27 rebounds.
Leading all players in scoring was Wragge with 21 points. The freshman tacked on five rebounds to her line. Also scoring in double digits was Shelby Quinn who contributed 16, two shy of her career high. Quinn also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. Senior Becky Mueller was just shy of a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
“Last weekend we weren’t ready for the pressure that they brought,” Olson said. “The very first time we played them this year, they didn’t pressure us like that. This time around we knew what to expect so we handled a little bit better. We stepped up and made some shots. It just comes down to us getting stops in the fourth quarter.”
The Bulldogs led through the opening of the first quarter until the Chargers scored a fast break layup off a Concordia turnover. Briar Cliff then held the lead or let the score get knotted up through the half and into the third quarter.
The lead change switched four different times during the third period but the Chargers held a one point lead going into the final frame. Quinn and Laurel Krohn scored back-to-back 3-pointers to put the ‘Dogs up by five, which was their largest lead of the quarter. A pair of jumpers from Briar Cliff’s McKenzie Shipley and Jessi Corrick gave their squad a one point lead with just under eight minutes to play. Shortly after, Wragge drained a pair of free throws to tie the score at 62. The Chargers then made a jumper and took off to hold the lead the remainder of the game.
The Concordia women’s basketball team will now have to wait until Tuesday, March 2 to see if they will be seeded in the NAIA Tournament. The national tournament takes place in Sioux City, Iowa at the Tyson Event Center March 9-15.
SEWARD, Neb. – A huge second half of the 2015-16 season helped propel freshman Quinn Wragge to first team all-conference recognition, as announced by the GPAC on Wednesday. Teammate Mary Janovich garnered second team all-conference laurels despite missing each of the last 13 games due to injury. Honorable mention selections were senior Becky Mueller and junior Shelby Quinn.
Wragge, a native of Crofton, Neb., has made herself comfortable in her first collegiate season. She leads Concordia in scoring (14.5), rebounding (4.5), steals (1.87), blocked shots (0.61), field goal percentage (.581) and minutes per game (27.0). Since Janovich’s injury on Jan. 16, Wragge has averaged 18.2 points per game. On Feb. 6 she tallied a career high 29 points in a loss at GPAC champion Morningside. She was also named the MVP of the Concordia Invitational Tournament.
Few freshmen in program history have reached the heights Wragge has. She is the first rookie to lead the team in scoring since Concordia Athletic Hall of Famer Sarah Harrison did so in 2001-02. She joins a list of recent Bulldog freshmen to earn some form of all-conference recognition, including Janovich, the 2014-15 GPAC freshman of the year. Several freshmen during head coach Drew Olson’s tenure received honorable mention all-conference: Katie Rich (2009-10), Kristen Conahan (2010-11), Bailey Morris (2011-12) and Mueller (2013-14).
Janovich has totaled 531 points over her first 53 games as a Bulldog. This season the native of Gretna, Neb., averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game and shot 53.8 percent from the field. She equaled a career high with 19 points in the win over Briar Cliff on Jan. 2. Her season was cut short when she suffered a torn ACL during practice on Jan. 18.
Mueller now has two honorable mention honors and a second team all-conference award to her credit. She currently ranks 22nd on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,048 career points. She eclipsed 1,000 points in the win over Northwestern on Feb. 13. This season the native of Elkhorn, Neb., is averaging 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steal while shooting 35.9 percent from the floor and 77.9 percent from the free throw line.
Quinn, who hails from Bellevue, Neb., has been cited with all-conference honors for the first time in her career. Quinn has taken over the point guard role this season while extending her consecutive games played streak to 89. She is averaging 7.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 35.8 percent from the field. She totaled a career high 18 points in the win at Doane on Nov. 24.
Ranked 17th in last week’s national coaches’ poll, Concordia now awaits today’s announcement (March 2) of the field of national qualifiers. The Bulldogs expect to make their fifth-straight national tournament appearance and 15th in program history.
SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia women’s basketball program remains a fixture at the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships. On Wednesday tenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad learned that it would be the 15th team in school history to qualify for the national tournament. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (ranked 16th in the national poll) received an at-large bid and will take on fifth-seeded Goshen College (Ind.) at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9 in the first round of the bracket.
It will be the eighth national tournament trip for Olson, who has guided Concordia to the national stage in five years running. The 2015-16 Midlands/State College Coach of the Year especially liked how his team followed its 2015 national runner-up run after several star players departed.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done this year so far,” Olson said. “We’ve basically done it with a totally brand new team. We have a few returners. Becky’s (Mueller) obviously a key part of our team, but we lost a lot of really good players from last year. Then we lost Mary (Janovich) and had to reconfigure our team halfway through the season and still made a really good run. It shows what a tough group this is.”
Concordia has enjoyed another 20-plus win season while riding the hot hand of freshman Quinn Wragge, who was named a first team all-conference selection earlier on Wednesday. She enters her first national tournament leading the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. Along with Wragge’s consistency, Concordia has relied on the long ball (ranked fifth nationally in 3-point field goals per game) in putting together another season worthy of a journey to Sioux City.
The Bulldogs will have gone 13-straight days without playing a game by the time they take the court at the Tyson Events Center on March 9. Olson believes the off time since his team’s GPAC quarterfinal loss at Briar Cliff has been beneficial. The Bulldogs have enjoyed a chance to recharge for a new season.
“We got to have a weekend off and our kids were able to go home and rest,” Olson said. “Our practices since then have been awesome. There’s been a lot of energy – playing hard, competing. It’s gone back to being like preseason practices. You can just see the confidence coming back. I think we’re in a really good spot.”
Olson and his staff will now begin to familiarize themselves with Goshen, a member of the Crossroads League. Located in Goshen, Ind., the Maple Leafs are making their second all-time national tournament appearance. They will bring a 24-8 overall record to Sioux City. Goshen, ranked No. 18 in the final coaches’ poll, fell to the Crossroads tournament champion, Indiana Wesleyan, in the semifinals of its league tourney. Four players average 10 points or more for the Maple Leafs, whose leading scorer is senior Tyra Carver (12.4).
The winner between Concordia and Goshen will advance to the second round to play either top-seeded Saint Xavier University (Ill.) or eighth-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan College at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, March 11.
The national tournament field is comprised of 22 automatic berths and 10 at-large selections. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released today.
The NAIA Network – the association’s official video streaming home – will video-stream all 28 games live leading up to the semifinals and final on ESPN3. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access to live video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament package is available at $29.95. For more information and the pre-register, click here.
For more information on the 2016 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship, click here.
Few freshmen are asked to carry the load in the way that rookie Quinn Wragge has for Concordia women’s basketball in 2015-16. Few freshman can dominate a game the way that the Crofton native can. Few freshman score 29 points on the road against the top team in the GPAC and then a couple weeks later chase down 18 rebounds.
Simply put by head coach Drew Olson after a late-season home win, “Quinn’s phenomenal.”
The lanky 6-foot product of Crofton High School uses her gazelle-like quickness to beat opponents for easy buckets in transition. She possesses the handles of a guard, impressive touch around the basket and a winning pedigree complete with three high school state titles to her credit. She’s also mature beyond her years. Says Olson, “She’s got a great demeanor. Nothing ever rattles her.”
The cucumber cool Wragge is on track to become the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Concordia Athletic Hall of Famer Sarah Harrison did so in 2001-02. Olson has asked her to play more minutes than any other Bulldog this season, and she’s delivered in a big way.
“I wasn’t expecting that actually,” Wragge said of her hefty workload. “I wanted to come in and do my best and help this team in any way that I could. I wasn’t really expecting myself to have this role. All the girls have been great helping me out and getting me to where I need to be. I’m thankful that they’re supportive of me in this role.”
Daughter of Mark Wragge, who tallied 1,821 career points at Doane, Quinn is the face of Bulldog basketball present and future. She’s exactly what Olson’s program needed after graduating a pair of All-Americans from last season’s national runner-up team. Without Wragge, the season very likely would have ended in February.
Olson won an intense recruiting battle to land his next star, who turned down interest from several rivals, including Briar Cliff, Hastings, Doane, Morningside and Mount Marty.
“It was a really tough decision just as it is for everyone,” Wragge said. “When it came to choosing Concordia, I loved Coach Olson most out of all the people that were recruiting me. I also really like track. When I came here they said I could do both which was a pull for me. And I didn’t want to be that far from home. It’s only two, two-and-a-half hours which isn’t that bad. At first it seemed like it was so far.
“I liked coach. I liked the team and I liked the Christian aspect of it a lot. Those were my main reasons for coming.”
Little did she know, she would become the immediate centerpiece of a fifth-straight national tournament team at Concordia. There would be no easing into her freshman season. That point was made especially clear when standout guard Mary Janovich went down with a torn ACL at practice on Jan. 18.
That news dealt a significant blow to a young team still in the learning process. That gave Wragge the opportunity to take off. It’s your team now, kid. All she did was lead the Bulldogs to wins in eight of their next 11 games. During that stretch she dominated the Concordia Invitational Tournament, earning MVP honors. CIT provided another example of the team’s resilience with it fresh off a rough home loss to Doane that saw Wragge go 3-for-9 from the floor.
Wragge purposely caught amnesia. It’s like that game never happened. Her maturity shined through. She’s believed all along despite the names that departed after last season and through the injury to Janovich.
“We knew things were going to be different. I think we all thought we could still be a good team,” Wragge said. “Coach was really big on that. He was telling us that people aren’t going to believe in you this year. He was like, ‘let’s go prove them wrong. I believe in this team and I hope that you guys do, too. Let’s show them that we still can be that team.’”
Wragge and the Bulldogs enter the tournament in more of an underdog role in 2016. But don’t expect the big-game tested Wragge to be intimidated. She showed she can flourish in hyper-charged environments like that of CIT and she’s found comfort in her role as Concordia’s top scorer.
“I’m definitely excited for (the national tournament),” Wragge said. “State is one of the best atmospheres. I think being (in Sioux City) will be like that. I’m glad that I have that experience. I also think that CIT helps a little bit. It’s probably a little different, but it’s the kind of crazy atmosphere where everyone is ready to go. I think it will be a lot of fun.”
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Though several of its most inexperienced players on the national stage gave great production, the 16th-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team suffered a first-round loss at the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships for the third time in four seasons. The Bulldogs fell, 85-82, at the hands of No. 18 Goshen College (Ind.) on Wednesday afternoon.
The loss means 10th-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad ends the 2015-16 season at 22-10 overall. Concordia made its fifth-straight national tournament appearance and eighth under Olson in 2016.
Now 22-15 all-time at the national tournament, the latest loss came in stinging fashion. With :10.2 remaining and the score tied 82-82, Concordia turned the ball over. On the ensuing possession, Lynnia Noel drained a wide-open trey from the right wing to secure the Maple Leafs’ first-ever national tournament win.
That shot put a damper on the stellar efforts of Sydney Feller, Erin Vieselmeyer and Quinn Wragge, who all played for the first time at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. On top of that, senior Becky Mueller racked up 23 points in her final game as a Bulldog.
“I thought they did great,” Olson said. “Sydney Feller, Erin Vieselmeyer and Quinn, for being their first time at nationals, I thought they played really well. Sydney had a phenomenal game and hit some big shots. Erin started off great in that first half. I was really proud of how they played.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as six points in the second quarter and then trailed 76-70 midway through the fourth quarter. On the back of the impossible-to-rattle Wragge, Concordia tied it up with an 8-2 run fueled by two buckets from the star freshman. Wragge and company even took an 82-80 lead in the final 30 seconds left on two Shelby Quinn free throws that followed a foul on the drive.
After Gabby Williams knotted the game once again, Concordia got the ball with the shot clock off and a chance to win. Out of a timeout, Feller’s lob attempt inside to Wragge went over the top of everybody and out of bounds, setting the stage for Noel’s heroics.
Olson shouldered the blame afterwards saying, “It was totally my fault. They were in a really similar situation in their conference championship game against Indiana Wesleyan and they were in a 1-3-1 zone. It was something we worked on in practice. They came out and I thought to myself, ‘I think they’re in man,’ and I didn’t say anything to Sydney. She threw the pass but it was my fault for not telling her to just hit Shelby and get into our high ball screen.”
Wragge, the first freshman to lead the program in scoring since Sarah Harrison in 2001-02, posted her third double-double in four games by piling up 24 points and 10 rebounds. Mueller’s 23 points elevated her to 20th on Concordia’s all-time scoring list with 1,071 career tallies. Vieselmeyer put up 11 of her 13 points in the first half while Feller put together a new career high with 15 points (3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc).
Goshen, which made its first national tournament appearance since 2004, also got double figures in scoring from four players. Williams topped the Maple Leafs, a member of the Crossroads League, with 19 points and nine rebounds. Tyra Carver added 17 points and six boards. The game’s hero, Noel, chipped in 13 points off the bench.
While the Bulldogs ended the season on a three-game skid, they proved they could persevere through the torn ACL second team all-conference pick Mary Janovich suffered in mid-January. With the lone seniors being Mueller and Jenna Lehmann, Olson is confident the 2016-17 edition can carry on the program’s winning tradition.
“I hope it fuels their fire,” Olson said. “They should be very motivated this summer to get back here and not let this happen again. We’re a better team than that and I think our kids next year will be very good.”
Concordia actually outshot Goshen, 48.4 percent to 46.2. However, the Bulldogs made only 5-of-22 shots from beyond the arc and committed 19 turnovers.
The Maple Leafs (25-8) enter unchartered territory in their program’s history. They will play top-seeded Saint Xavier (Ill.) in the second round on Friday.
SEWARD, Neb. – Five Concordia University women’s basketball players found themselves on the list of 2015-16 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, released on Monday. All five Bulldogs are first-time honorees. They include senior Becky Mueller and juniors Carissa Gutz, Laurel Krohn, Shelby Quinn and Erin Vieselmeyer.
In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 253 Division II women’s basketball student-athletes across the nation were named 2015-16 scholar-athletes by the NAIA.
Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,263 and counting (39 for the fall of 2015). The 2014-15 season culminated with GPAC-leading totals of 94 Bulldog scholar-athletes and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).
Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Nebraska, that currently serves more than 2,600 students. Concordia offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world. For more information, visit cune.edu.
2015-16 Concordia women’s basketball scholar-athletes
Carissa Gutz | Jr. | Osmond, Neb. | Elementary Education
Laurel Krohn | Jr. | Osmond, Neb. | Accounting / Business
Becky Mueller | Sr. | Elkhorn, Neb. | Biology
Shelby Quinn | Jr. | Bellevue, Neb. | Elementary/Special Education
Erin Vieselmeyer | Jr. | Holyoke, Colo. | Biology
SEWARD, Neb. – For the fifth-straight season, the Concordia women’s basketball program has found itself with a top-25 final ranking. In the postseason coaches’ poll released by the NAIA on Wednesday, head coach Drew Olson’s squad checked in at No. 19. This also marks the 66th-straight poll appearance for the program. The streak dates back to the 2011-12 preseason ranking.
The Bulldogs garnered top-25 rankings in all 13 polls during the 2015-16 campaign. They peaked at the No. 4 position. The postseason ranking of 19th represents a three-spot drop from the pre-national tournament poll. Since the NAIA initiated the postseason rating following the national tournament in 2012, Concordia has been placed at No. 3 (2011-12), No. 9 (2012-13), No. 13 (2013-14), No. 2 (2014-15) and No. 19 (2015-16).
During Olson’s 10 years as head coach, Concordia has ended a season in the rankings seven times. In five of those instances the Bulldogs were placed inside the top 10. Their highest finishes were second and third, respectively.
Concordia defeated four teams ranked in front of it (all at home) in the 2015-16 postseason poll: No. 5 Mount Marty, No. 8 Dakota Wesleyan, No. 14 Briar Cliff and No. 16 University of Jamestown (N.D.). This year’s Bulldogs advanced to the national tournament for the 15th time in program history. The season culminated with a first-round loss to Goshen College (Ind.), which vaulted to No. 4 in the postseason ranking.
The women’s basketball program has held the No. 1 ranking a total of 11 times, including the final seven polls of the 2002-03 season and the first four ratings of the 2012-13 campaign. The 2014-15 Bulldogs became the first in program history to reach the national title game and was the fourth Concordia women’s basketball team to advance to the national semifinals.
Preseason top 25 rankings under Olson
Final end of season top 25 rankings under Olson
Big expectations surround Concordia women’s basketball every year. You won’t see head coach Drew Olson do cartwheels after merely reaching the national tournament, especially a year removed from an appearance in the national championship game.
But peal back the layers and plenty of reasons for gratification can be found. The Bulldogs entered the 2015-16 season having to replace one of the program’s most accomplished senior classes complete with two All-Americans, including the national player of the year. Then Mary Janovich went down with a torn ACL at practice on Jan. 18.
In the midst of the GPAC meat grinder, a young team had to reinvent itself once again.
Says Olson, “I thought it was a successful season. Obviously our program standards are higher than just getting to the national tournament. We expect to do well and advance. All things considered, you look back and you realize it was a good season. We lost so many players from the previous season – big-time players. Then Mary Janovich goes down and it basically started that whole cycle all over (of learning to win together). To figure out how to win twice in the same season and still figure out how to get to the national tournament really showed a lot of toughness.”
Freshman do not typically carry teams in the way that rookie Quinn Wragge did, but the Crofton native didn’t seem to know any better. Over the final 14 games, all without Janovich, Wragge averaged 18.6 points per game in elevating herself to a level unprecedented for freshmen Bulldog women’s basketball players. Before it fell in its final three contests of the season, Concordia leaned upon Wragge to lead the way to seven wins in an eight-game stretch that sewed up a national tournament bid.
Wragge, a first team all-conference selection and CIT MVP, dominated the team leaderboard, pacing Concordia in points (14.8), rebounds (6.6), steals (1.84), blocks (0.59), field goal percentage (.585) and minutes per game (27.1). In the GPAC era, no Bulldog has ever led the team in each of those categories. A member of three state championship teams at Crofton High School, Wragge was unafraid of the big stage. She put up 24 points and 10 rebounds in the heartbreaking 85-82 national tournament loss to Goshen College.
“I knew how good she could be,” Olson said. “It was just a matter of getting her to realize it and having confidence in herself to be able to do those things. The injury to Mary forced her to come out a little bit earlier than I think she wanted to. She really took on a lot of the load for the team in terms of scoring, minutes and some of the little things. That’s not easy to do as a freshman. Hopefully there’s more to come from her.”
We could go on about Wragge, but there’s more to the story. Olson loves the fight and the heart consistently displayed by junior Shelby Quinn, who took over the role of starting point guard early in the year. Senior Becky Mueller again provided scoring punch while surpassing the 1,000-career point mark late in the year. Mueller served as a leading sharpshooter for a squad that knocked down nearly 10 3-point field goals per game. Brenleigh Daum topped the team with 62 triples.
There also were the emergences of players like junior Erin Vieselmeyer and sophomore Sydney Feller, both of whom got their first taste of varsity action this past season. They combined for 28 points at the national tournament. They showed flashes of brilliance and the upside to be even bigger contributors in 2016-17. Olson commended Vieselmeyer, a 6-foot low-post scorer, for her rapid improvement. The 10th-year head coach appreciated the effort of Devin Edwards (aka “Chubbs”) so much that he bumped her into the starting lineup in January. Said Olson of Chubbs, “She’s a total competitor and a great teammate. She never complained about her role.”
When looking ahead, Olson can’t wait to get Janovich back in the lineup. She was so highly-regarded and respected by league coaches that she earned second team all-conference accolades despite missing nine conference games. A tenacious defender, Janovich made huge contributions to the national runner-up team. Said Olson, “Mary was playing like an elite player (before the injury). I felt like she had about a seven, eight-game stretch where she was just dominant in all facets. She was being aggressive. She was the player that we knew she could be.”
Janovich and Wragge will be the headlining returners for next season. They will be joined by an incoming recruiting class that, while not yet finalized, looks particularly strong. That class will include the likes of 5-foot-10 Philly Lammers, who enjoyed a big state tournament for Millard West, and Falls City Sacred Heart’s Maggie Goltz, who stands 6-foot-1 and has the versatility to play any position on the court. Midland transfer guard Dani Andersen, who averaged 9.0 points for the Warriors in 2014-15, will also return to the court after sitting out this past season.
The cupboard will be well-stocked. Plus Olson believes his team will be in better position come this winter because of increased maturity and leadership growth among the returners. The Bulldogs want to get back to the national tournament – and they expect to win when they get there.
“I still think it’s going to be interesting to see who wins some of the battles in the preseason,” Olson said. “I think the biggest thing is we’re not questioning who’s leading the team. I feel like we grew up as a team this year. We had some immaturity throughout the year that won’t happen next year. I think it will be a team with a little bit more sound foundation. I think it will be a little bit better situation for the kids coming in.”