PHOTOS BY AMANDA MILLER
VIDEO BY MCKENZIE WEDEL & AUSTIN REMM
The No.8 Bryan College Lions had a tall task in facing No. 1 Concordia University Bulldogs Thursday in Tyson Events Center’s Gateway Arena. The Bulldogs have only lost twice on the year, both to No. 1 overall seed Morningside. Today, nothing would change as Concordia defeated Bryan, 76-35.
Concordia hasn’t had the best of luck in the first round of the tournament recently though, losing on the opening day the past two years. Bulldogs Head Coach Drew Olson was happy to see his team play well.
“I think this just settles us down,” said Olson. “Once we got the lead and were able to calm down, our true team showed up today. Moving on I think now that we put the first round to rest we can just go out and play.”
It was slow going early, as both teams struggled to put points on the board with both teams combining for only 12 points midway through the first half. Concordia would pull away towards the end of the half though, taking a 31-11 lead into the break. Bryan shot a dismal 12 percent in the first half on 4-33 shooting. Concordia only managed 36 percent shooting from the floor in the first half.
It wasn’t a pretty game; however, Olson recognizes games like this one can help his team in the future.
“It builds confidence,” said Olson. “It’s a new venue; it’s a little bit bigger than most teams are used to playing in. I think it just took a game to settle in and figure out how to play.”
The second half included much of the same for Bryan as they didn’t score until there were under 17 minutes left. Concordia extended their lead to 30 not long after and never looked back. Mary Janovich led a balanced Concordia attack, scoring 13 points, and she was joined by three other Bulldogs in double figures.
After defeating the Lions, Concordia will next face the No. 4 College of Saint Mary Flames. The Flames won their last game behind junior center Deaundra Young’s huge double-double where she scored 27 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. Olson recognizes the importance of keying on Young.
“She’s probably the best post player in the country, and it’s going to be a tough matchup for us,” said Olson.
For the Lions, Kristin Lane had a double-double, ending with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs outshot the Lions 35 percent to 17 percent and out-rebounded Bryan 60-51.
Bryan College Head Coach Jason Smith, who is in his fourth year at the institution, praised his lone senior Kelsey Brooks for her play and character.
“Kelsey is a standard of excellence for us at Bryan College,” said Smith. “She was my first signed recruit here at Bryan and she displays outstanding moral character.”
Brooks ended her college career with two points and six rebounds for the Lions.
Bryan College ends their season with a 21-9 overall record in their fifth NAIA National Championship appearance. Concordia improves to 32-2 on the year and will play the College of Saint Mary Flames on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. at Tyson Events Center.