GOLDEN, Colo. – A beastly game by sophomore Clay Reimers and a late 13-0 run defined the day as the Concordia University men’s basketball team wrapped up its Thanksgiving weekend in Golden, Colo. After nearly upsetting NCAA Division II sixth-ranked Colorado School of Mines on Friday, the Bulldogs took care of Colorado Christian University, 79-66, on Saturday afternoon. The Cougars are a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (NCAA Division II).
Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad fell by an 86-84 final score to host Colorado Mines on Friday despite 26 points from point guard Jake Hornick. The Bulldogs regrouped on Saturday and improved to 7-2 overall this season.
There were some rough patches in the middle of the latest contest, but Limback liked how his team started and finished the game.
“Defensively we did some really good things in the last five minutes to close it out,” Limback said. “I’m just proud of the guys for the whole weekend overall in regards to their level of play and the effort we saw. There were definite signs of growth this weekend. I think playing two division II teams really motivated our guys to play at a different level. When we compete as hard as we can and stay disciplined, we truly can beat anyone on a given night.”
Concordia trailed as late as the 7:34 mark before Chris Johnstone initiated the 13-0 run by sinking a pair of free throws. The Bulldogs really dug in defensively, limiting Colorado Christian (1-5) without a field goal the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the usual suspects filled it up on the other end. Reimers emerged with a tip in and Hornick followed with a back breaker of a 3-pointer during crunch time.
A product of Lincoln East High School, Reimers bounced back after fouling out of Friday’s contest. He went off for 23 points and a career high 16 rebounds. Reimers showed off his ability to score in just about every way imaginable, stepping out for a trey and dominating after catching it in the post. At the point, Hornick was at his best during the game-winning push down the stretch. He wound up with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes of action.
It wasn’t one of Concordia’s best outside shooting performances, but it still managed to net 11 triples and heated up from 40.7 percent (11-for-27) shooting in the first half to 54.8 percent (17-for-31) in the second half. The defensive effort also improved. The Cougars slumped to 35.5 percent (11-for-31) shooting in the second half.
Colorado Christian earned its first win of the season on Friday, drubbing Bethel College (Kan.), 91-72, as part of the weekend event. The Cougars are coming off a 19-16 record in 2016-17. They were paced on Saturday by the 13 points from Jeremiah Hanson.
Tanner Shuck (14 points, 4-for-11 3-point shooting) and Kyle Pierce (11 points) joined Hornick and Reimers as double figure scorers. Johnstone added seven points off the bench.
Limback came away from the weekend especially impressed with Friday’s effort against a Colorado Mines team capable of competing for the NCAA Division II national title. The Bulldogs jumped out to a four-point lead in overtime before the Orediggers came back to clip Concordia.
“It was one of those games where we were hitting on all cylinders and really competing hard,” Limback said. “Those are games you wish you could have won, but we got better that night.”
The team enjoyed its Thanksgiving meal at the Colorado home of graduate assistant coach Tate Hilgenkamp’s parents on Thursday. The varsity roster contains six Colorado natives, including starters in Cordell Gillingham, Hornick and Kyle Pierce.
The Bulldogs will be off until next Saturday (Dec. 2) when they return to conference action with a road trip to Dordt (6-5, 1-0 GPAC). Tipoff from Sioux Center, Iowa, is set for 4 p.m. CT. The Defenders opened up GPAC play with a 73-67 win at No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan on Nov. 15.