Thomas sparkles as Bulldogs win second straight

Thomas sparkles as Bulldogs win second straight

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia standouts Adam Vogt and Robby Thomas picked up where they left off on Saturday to power the Bulldogs to a second-straight win. Concordia defeated visiting Grace University 87-72 inside Walz Arena on Tuesday night. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad moved to 2-3 on the season.

“We’ll take it. It was sloppy at times,” Limback said. “We had some silly mistakes but any time you get a win you’ll take it.”

Thomas, who leads the GPAC in blocked shots, was a beast on both ends of the floor once again. Thomas set the tone early by drilling a pair of 3-pointers on the offensive end and then blocking a trio of shots within the first six-plus minutes.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Shawnee, Kan., had a big night with 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks – pocketing his third double-double already this season.

“The coaches have been doing a really good job of helping us mold together as a team and help us play in our own roles,” Thomas said. “They’ve got me in something I’m a little more comfortable in. The fact that I can be more of a leader helps a lot. I can be more aggressive and such.”

Thomas pumped up the crowd early with three denials right at the rim all in a stretch of just over a minute early in the first half. His 3-pointer right before bumped the Bulldog lead to 15-6 in a game Limback’s crew trailed only briefly at the very outset.

By the 7:30 mark of the first half, Concordia had already built a 27-13 advantage after Vogt sniped his third trey of the night. After racking up a career high 26 points in Saturday’s 85-76 upset of No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan, Vogt added a team high 17 points to help lead another efficient offensive night.

Using excellent ball movement, Concordia built a lead as large as 76-56 after an Eli Ziegler triple in the right corner with 6:28 left in the game. Of the Bulldogs’ 27 field goals, 23 were assisted as part of a motion offense that operated at near peak proficiency whenever it avoided the turnover.

“It’s exciting. We had a lot of turnovers but that’s something we can control and we can get a handle on,” Thomas said. “Our offensive skill is coming along really fast. Our ball movement is great and we’re doing a good job of finding the open guy.”

In the paint, freshmen bigs Justin Damme (15 points, seven rebounds) and Chandler Folkerts (14 points, five rebounds, three blocks) were too much for the Royals (1-5).

“Justin and Chandler were like a two-headed monster out there tonight,” Limback said. “We really wanted to go inside and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. Both of those guys worked extremely hard and they deserve a lot of credit for tonight’s win.”

Also in double figures was Ziegler, who chipped in 13 points while making 3 of 6 shots from downtown. For the second-straight game, the Bulldogs went 8-for-20 from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs finished with 11 blocked shots, the most for the program since Jan. 31, 2004, when Concordia also denied 11 shots in a 75-68 win over Concordia-Ann Arbor.

Despite outshooting the Royals 48.1 to 25.0 percent in the first half, Concordia led by only eight at halftime as turnovers allowed Grace to get several more offensive opportunities. The Royals finished with 80 shot attempts compared to 52 for Concordia. Grace’s 20 offensive rebounds and plus-eight turnover margin explained the discrepancy.

With an 8-for-8 night from the foul line, Vogt stretched his consecutive free throw makes to 19. He is 31-for-35 (88.6 percent) from the foul line on the season. “I’m not going to tell him that,” Limback quipped in his postgame interview.

The Bulldogs will begin conference play on Saturday when Morningside (2-2) visits Seward for a 7 p.m. tip off. Fans are encouraged to wear white as part of white-out ‘DawgStrong’ Saturday. The Mustangs received votes in the preseason national poll.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us but I like the way our team’s mindset is right now,” Limback said.

12 November 2013

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Sophomore Robby Thomas