By Sarah Bowe
SEWARD, Neb. – Rebounding from a disappointing loss on Friday, the Concordia University men’s basketball team defeated visiting Avila University, 89-62, in the final game of the 15th annual Cattle Classic on Saturday afternoon. As part of the two-day event, Concordia also fell, 73-60, to Grace University on the previous night.
Junior Robby Thomas, who was named to the All-Cattle Classic team for the Bulldogs notched 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals to fuel Saturday’s win.
“We had a player’s meeting today,” Thomas said. “We want to focus on coming together more as a team and getting behind each other through the good things and the bad things. I think we really came out and played more as a team today.”
Whatever they talked about, it worked. Concordia shot 62.2 percent from the field and went 23-for-29 (.793) from the free throw line in rolling past the visiting Eagles.
“Yesterday, and really the first three games, we haven’t come out and played as aggressive as we need to,” head coach Ben Limback said. “Today was much better. I loved our energy and I’m very proud of the guys and how they came back.”
Thomas started the night off right by sinking a three point shot 18 seconds into the game, setting the tone for the rest of the game. In addition to Thomas, the Bulldogs were led by senior Joel Haywood and junior Micah Kohlwey. The group finished with 37 combined points while shooting 52 percent from the field (10-for-19).
Thomas led all scorers with his 13 points, followed closely by both Haywood and Kohlwey with 12 points each. Thomas went 4-for-7 from the field and 3-for-5 behind the arc. Haywood went 2-for-4 from the field and Kohlwey nailed 4 of 8 shot attempts.
The Bulldogs were an impressive 10-for-21 from beyond the 3-point line. On the other hand, Avila was limited to 34.9 percent shooting.
Concordia maintained at least a 15-point spread throughout the entire second half. Its 27-point margin of victory was its largest advantage of the night.
“The difference was definitely in ball movement,” Thomas said. “We were a lot more patient. Avila pressured us, so we wanted to slow the game down and get some rotations and ball movement. We just waited for the shots to open up; they did and we knocked them down.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Yankton, S.D., on Nov. 12 to play Mount Marty College at 8 p.m. and then return to Walz Arena for a matchup with Morningside College Nov. 15 at 4 p.m.
“There’s a lot we need to work on,” said Thomas. “But today was a good sign that we are starting to get a little chemistry on the court and learn to play together with the new guys; they’ve been stepping up a lot. The returners have been playing good as well; I’m excited for conference games.”
2014 All-Cattle Classic Team
F - Darreon Tolliver, York College
F - Leldon Love, York College
F - Robby Thomas, Concordia University
G - Sedrick Johnson, Avila University
G - Jarrod Sheffield, Grace University