SEWARD, Neb. – Newly minted as the No. 1 team in NAIA Division II, the Concordia University women’s basketball team wore its top billing well on Wednesday night, particularly after shaking off a turnover-prone first quarter. No sweat, the sharpshooting Brenleigh Daum had her teammates’ back in what resulted in a Bulldog blowout, 95-57, over visiting Briar Cliff.
The win marked the 300th in the head coaching career of Drew Olson, who is in the middle of his 12th season leading the women’s basketball program. Another milestone was achieved late in the game when Mary Janovich joined the 1,000-point club. Olson’s squad moved to 18-0 overall and to 10-0 in conference play.
“I thought Briar Cliff came in and played really well in that first quarter,” Olson said. “We didn’t shoot well and thankfully Brenleigh did. Brenleigh came to play. Once we kind of settled in to what we should do defensively, that was the difference. That’s the thing with this team. We play a couple of minutes and figure out how we’re going to defend each team. Once we figure that out, it seems like the rest of the game goes our way.”
With more than four minutes still left in the third quarter, Daum had already surpassed a career high point total. Daum drilled three treys in the opening quarter and then contributed to a third period onslaught that buried a Walz Arena visitor for the second time in four days. As fortunate as they were to keep Philly Lammers (four points on 2-for-6 shooting) in check, the Chargers (8-12, 5-5 GPAC) were run over by Daum and by Quinn Wragge, who posted an impressive line of 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.
After committing eight turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes, Concordia tightened the screws and dominated the rest of the way. The Bulldogs outscored Briar Cliff over the second and third quarters by a combined score of 55-27, giving the fourth quarter the feel of a scrimmage. It’s nothing all that unusual for a Concordia squad that has won 11 times by margins of greater than 20 points.
When Daum is filling it up on the Bulldog second wave, Concordia becomes even more lethal. Daum chucked in seven triples while totaling 26 points, four more than her previous career high.
“For me personally, it was just Coach coming up to me and believing in me and having faith in me,” Daum said. “He said to me, ‘Just go out there and play great defense and shoot it.’ Whether it goes in or goes out, just play hard.”
With the game in hand after halftime, the only drama centered upon whether Janovich would get the 1,000-point mark. With just over 2:30 left to play, Olson re-inserted Janovich into the lineup with her three points away from quadruple digits. Janovich responded by nailing a long 3-pointer. The crowd reacted with its largest ovation of the night.
Immediately following the game, Olson was presented with a basketball signed by members of the athletic department. Afterwards, Olson reflected on the journey that has taken himself and the program to this point.
“I’ve been really blessed to have some incredible players throughout my career,” Olson said. “I’m so thankful for those first couple teams that kind of stuck with me. I know I wasn’t the best coach then. It’s just an incredible journey I’ve been on because of these kids and the work they’ve put in.”
Briar Cliff got a team high 15 points from Logan Ehlers off the bench. Her solid play couldn’t overcome the team’s 32 turnovers and 37.7 percent shooting. Aiding the Chargers is Concordia all-time leading scorer Bailey Morris, who is in her first season as an assistant.
The Bulldogs will be back on the road on Saturday when they journey to Yankton, S.D., for a matchup with Mount Marty (10-9, 1-9 GPAC). Please note that tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. CT rather than the typical 2 p.m. start. In this season’s first meeting, Concordia pummeled the Lancers, 84-42, inside Walz Arena.