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Concordia locks up share of GPAC title at Morningside

Concordia locks up share of GPAC title at Morningside

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – An incredible run through the road portion of the 2017-18 regular-season schedule is complete for the second-ranked Concordia University women’s basketball team. Despite being without all-conference guard Mary Janovich, the Bulldogs held off 15th-ranked Morningside, 88-80, inside the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday. The victory completed a regular-season sweep of the Mustangs.

Twelfth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad has recorded 11 wins over teams that appeared in this week’s national rankings. Concordia now stands at 27-1 overall and at 17-1 in conference play. With a two-game lead atop the conference standings, the Bulldogs can do no worse than share the GPAC regular-season title.

“That was a really hard fought win. I thought Morningside was really tough today,” Olson said. “Our kids stepped up in so many big ways. I could not be prouder. The shot making that we had in the second half, overcoming Mary Janovich not being here and Philly (Lammers) and Colby (Duvel) being in foul trouble – it was an amazing effort in the second half.”

Different players alternated stretches of dominant play. Brenleigh Daum came out firing with eight points in the first quarter. Philly Lammers beasted for 10 points in the second quarter while Dani Hoppes buried a pair of treys early in the third quarter. Concordia held leads as large as 14 in the first half and 13 in the second half. Morningside (18-10, 11-7 GPAC) always kept coming, but the Bulldogs always had an answer.

In the fourth quarter, Madison Braun (22 points while playing all 40 minutes) and company twice cut their deficit down to four only to watch Concordia respond with a critical bucket or free throws to stamp out the host’s upset bid. One of the game’s most crucial hoops came at the 4:20 mark when Sydney Feller’s three-point play pushed a four-point lead to seven (79-72). The Bulldogs later came up with key stops defensively and nailed each of their four free throw tries in the final 30 seconds.

Lammers led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals on the strength of her big second quarter. Hoppes added 15 points while going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Taylor Cockerill (15 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Daum (11 points, 3-for-6 3-point shooting) provided solid production off the brench. In place of Janovich, Sydney Feller got the start. Janovich missed the game to attend her brother’s wedding. While playing 29 minutes, Feller chipped in eight points and three rebounds.

Said Olson, “I thought Sydney Feller did an awesome job stepping up in any kind of role that we asked of her. We had her playing a lot of different positions. We had her guard a big post. She did a fantastic job.

“Philly was a beast. She was that good. She showed why I think she’s the most dominant player in our conference.”

Head coach Jamie Sale’s squad has dropped each of its first three games in February – all against teams ranked inside or near the top 10 nationally. Morningside managed to commit only 15 turnovers but had disadvantages in shooting percentage (43.9 to 42.6) and rebounding (39-33).

Olson has now led the program to either outright or shared GPAC regular-season titles in 2011-12, 2013-14, 2016-17 and 2017-18. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Concordia has won a combined seven GPAC regular season or postseason championships. The tournament championships came in 2012, 2015 and 2017.

All that remains on the regular-season schedule is next week’s pair of home games. The Bulldogs will celebrate senior day on Wednesday (Feb. 14) when Doane (7-19, 2-16 GPAC) visits Walz Arena, where Concordia has won each of its last 31 games. Game time is set for 6 p.m. CT in Seward.

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