SIOUX CITY, Iowa — There are a lot of new names on the Concordia roster from the last time the Bulldogs reached the national semifinals two years ago.
Fortunately for Bulldogs coach Drew Olson, they seemingly all contribute in waves that have overwhelmed one opponent after another at the NAIA Division II National Championship. On Saturday, No. 1 seeded Concordia got scoring from 11 players and one big shot after another to down third-seeded Jamestown (North Dakota) 74-59 to reach Monday's semifinal.
Junior Mary Janovich was one of three Bulldogs (34-2) in double figures with 11 points. She was a key contributor when Concordia reached the national title game two years ago before falling to Morningside. Janovich knows how talented that team was, but also what this squad is capable of doing.
"My freshman year we had a couple of players that could just take over anytime, any given moment," Janovich said. "This year we have a lot of players that don't necessarily take over, but we play together and have a lot more depth this year.
"I think we mesh a lot better this year and our chemistry on and off the court is really, really good, and that transfers on to the court as well."
"Mostly she is not healthy and she is playing through immense pain," said Olson of Janovich. "More than what we really even know, but she is such a grinder, such a tough kid. She is fighting through it for her team because she loves to compete."
The Bulldogs came into the game wanting to slow down Kyra Dewald, Bryn Woodside and McKayla Orr, Jamestown's three explosive guards. The trio had 39 points, but Concordia's frantic zone defense made every point a challenge and kept them from getting teammates involved.
"The key to that game I felt like was those three guards for Jamestown, so quick," Olson said. "Just being able to keep them in front of us. They still got behind us a couple of times and kicked out for threes, but I felt overall that was the biggest job we did."
The Concordia defense held Jamestown's Taylor Hammer scoreless in the first half; she had 36 in the second-round victory over Davenport (Michigan). Hammer finished with just two points and fouled out with 6:45 to go in the game.
"We didn't do anything out of the ordinary," Olson said. "Don't get me wrong, Hammer is a really good player, but that was matchups and the style of play. Davenport plays a lot of man-to-man without a lot of help from their bigs, whereas we are this kind of crazy zone and we will consume people if you get the ball in the middle."
Concordia will play in Monday's 8 p.m. semifinal. The Bulldogs' opponent was to be decided in Saturday's late game.