LA CROSSE, Wis. – The Concordia University women’s basketball team hopes there are more championships on its horizon, but for now it can call itself champions of the Viterbo University Invitational. The Bulldogs hit host Viterbo hard on Saturday (Oct. 27) in the opening quarter on the way to a dominant 93-43 victory in title clash of the four-team weekend tournament in La Crosse, Wis.
Thirteenth-year head coach Drew Olson’s squad also defeated 15th-ranked Indiana Wesleyan, 81-68, on Friday afternoon in La Crosse. Grace Barry, Taylor Cockerill and Quinn Wragge each represented Concordia on the Viterbo Invitational all-tournament team.
“Our kids came out with good energy and were very aggressive in our press, which caused them to turn the ball over a lot,” Olson said. “We were able to capitalize in the first quarter. In the second quarter we got a little sloppy with our defense and fundamentals. Viterbo kept their composure and they were still playing hard. In the fourth quarter the floodgates opened. Our bench players just played awesome.”
After pouring in 38 points on Friday, Cockerill added 20 (5-for-10 from the field) more on Saturday in 19 minutes of action. She also contributed five rebounds and three steals. The thefts were a major story in this game. The Bulldogs racked up 32 steals and forced 49 V-Hawks turnovers. The giveaways were a big reason why Concordia outscored Viterbo 32-8 in the first quarter and then 33-4 in the fourth.
With the game out of hand quickly, all 14 Bulldogs who made the trip saw action. Thirteen of them registered in the scoring column. Philly Lammers (16 points, eight rebounds, three steals), Wragge (11 points, three steals) and Mackenzie Koepke (10 points, three steals) joined Cockerill as double figure scorers. Off the bench, Colby Duvel and Rylee Pauli swiped four steals apiece.
In the early going, Olson is still figuring out how to best position his team for success. While there are proven stars like Lammers and Wragge on board, there are plenty of new pieces to the rotation. None is bigger than Barry at the point. She produced a stat line of eight points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals on Saturday.
“I think Grace is doing a really nice job,” Olson said. “She’s going to keep getting better. Defensively she’s improving and understanding what I want out of her as a point guard. She’s a great player.”
Concordia still has yet to find its shooting touch from the perimeter (6-for-25 from 3-point range on Saturday), but gave itself plenty of margin for error by getting 24 more field goal attempts and 20 more free throw tries than Viterbo (1-1). It was an overall impressive dismantling of a squad that had just upset No. 22 Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) the day before.
The V-Hawks were paced by 15 points from Ambree Schlosser. They were held to just 32.7 percent (16-for-49) shooting from the floor. Each of their five starters was harassed into committing six or more turnovers apiece.
Now the Bulldogs get ready to make their home debut next week at the Cattle Classic (Nov. 2-3). Concordia will open the event by taking on Peru State College at 6 p.m. CT on the first day of the annual classic. More details and the complete schedule for the Cattle Classic can be found HERE.