The Concordia men’s basketball team earned a 93-88 overtime win over York College on Friday evening in Seward. It was the second straight overtime win for the Bulldogs, who improved to 6-5 on the year. York slipped to 6-7.
It was the second matchup of the season between the two teams, as Concordia cruised to a 91-66 win over the Panthers in the second game of the year. Friday night was a different story, as the Panthers used a huge second half rally to force overtime.
The visiting Panthers led by as many as five on two occasions early in the contest. The Bulldogs responded, however, and a pair of made free throws by Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) gave Concordia its biggest lead of the half (42-24) with just over three minutes remaining. The Bulldogs held a 47-31 lead at halftime. Concordia shot a blistering 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field, including 4-of-8 from long range, in the opening half of play.
York cut into the Bulldog lead early in the second half, and a layup by Thadd Varmall cut the lead to nine (54-45) with 13 minutes remaining in regulation. Concordia reclaimed a 10-point lead on a 3-pointer by Adam Vogt (Syracuse, Neb.), but York scored the next seven points to pull within three at 57-54. Concordia continued to hold the lead until there were just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
A layup by Reggie Johnson gave York a 79-78 lead with 2:02 to play. Concordia responded with a basket by Brian Towner (Houston, Texas) with just over a minute remaining. York’s Tedrick Urune answered with a key 3-pointer to give York the lead once again (82-80) with 45 seconds left. On Concordia’s next possession, Joel Haywood (Lakewood, Colo.) hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 82-82. York held for the last shot, but a layup by Marcus Johnson was blocked by Birtell. Birtell’s block forced the game into overtime.
The teams traded layups to open the overtime period. However, back-to-back scores gave Concordia an 89-84 lead. Birtell scored in the paint, and Haywood followed with a 3-point play to give the Bulldogs the advantage. Varmall followed with a jumper to pull the Panthers back within three, but Birtell scored again to push the Bulldog lead to 91-86. The Bulldogs secured the 5-point victory.
Concordia was 34-of-65 from the field on the evening for 52.3 percent. The Bulldogs were 6-of-16 (37.5 percent) from deep and 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) at the foul line. Concordia totaled 54 points in the paint. For the third straight game, Birtell was huge inside for Concordia. The junior, who earned GPAC player-of-the-week honors last week, poured in a game-high 32 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field. He has now led the Bulldogs in scoring in five of the last seven games. Birtell added a game-high 12 rebounds. In his first game of the year, Towner scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench. Haywood delivered 13 points and was 6-of-6 at the foul line.
“We are happy with how we played in overtime,” remarked Bulldog assistant coach Anthony Elias. “We haven’t played very well with the lead at times this year, and we’ve struggled with guarding dribble drives. Fortunately, we were able to get some stops in overtime when we really needed them. Offensively, we were pretty balanced tonight. Birtell and Towner complimented each other very well tonight. Brian really attacked off the dribble, and Porter finished very well around the basket.”
Four players scored in double figures for the Panthers, led by Varmall’s 23 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson added 22 points and four assists on the night, while Keenan Gaskin (15 points) and Urune (10 points) also reached double figures for York in the loss.
Concordia returns to GPAC play with a road contest at Doane College on December 20. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Crete.