The top seeded Concordia Bulldogs ripped through the Cardinal Stritch Wolves Friday evening 69-48 on their way to their sixth quarterfinal berth in the eleven years that they have made the tournament.
How a team starts tells a lot about how the game will go and Cardinal Stritch had one of those starts that makes people wince. The first four minutes of the game came and went and the Wolves shot 0 percent over three shots. They managed only one free throw as the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick nine-point lead, shooting 57 percent and racking up two steals and a block in that short period of time.
“We just did what we always do,” said Drew Olsen, head coach of the Concordia Bulldogs. “We play full court, try to trap and just made them play faster than what they are comfortable with. Our pressure got to them and we were able to get some turnovers and make easy baskets that set the tone for the game.”
Things did begin to level out somewhat as the half progressed. Near the ten-minute mark, the Wolves had regained some composure and scored nine points to improve to an 18 percent shooting average. However, nine turnovers kept the Wolves in a 12 point deficit regardless of how they were shooting.
At the half, Concordia had plowed out to a 17-point lead with the score at 34-17. Cardinal Stritch looked to regroup and refocus for a better second half.
One factor that has played into many games so far this tournament is the ability to score off the bench. Concordia was no different, scoring 29 points off the bench in today’s game. And the Bulldogs will be looking to continue that trend as they advance through the tournament.
“That’s one of the keys for our team,” said Olsen. “We are a really deep team; we play 11 or 12 players each game. We expect all of them to be able to step in there and be able to score. This makes it really hard for opponents to key in on just one or two players because now they have to worry about everyone that comes in.”
Concordia will advance to the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Division II Tournament to play the winner of the Grand View versus Corban game on Saturday at 8 p.m.