SEWARD, Neb. – Ghost chili pepper hot. That’s how fiery inferno-like the Concordia University men’s basketball team became during Saturday afternoon’s blowout of the visiting Red Raiders. The Bulldogs shot 61.2 percent from the field on the way to a 110-89 win that allowed for a rare instance in which the final few minutes were merely a scrimmage.
Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s Bulldogs are ablaze on the offensive end having averaged 89.3 points over the past eight games. Concordia is 7-1 during that stretch and has improved to 18-10 overall and 10-9 in GPAC play (fifth place).
“We had a lot of good contributions from a lot of guys,” Limback said. “Obviously we made a lot of shots and were hot from three tonight, which is great. I feel like everybody was just feeding off of each other. It was senior day so I know there were a lot of guys that wanted to make sure the seniors went out with a good win.”
The Bulldogs reached the century mark with just under five minutes remaining when senior Jamie Pearson dropped home one of his four treys on the day. The native of Ypsilanti, Mich., has gotten his groove back for a potent Bulldog bunch that abused Northwestern with absurd 58.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Robby Thomas made all four of his attempts from long range and sniper Eli Ziegler canned 3-of-4 shots from deep.
Pearson went for 26 points, five rebounds and five assists. In his final regular-season game at Walz, Thomas posted 16 points and swatted four shots, moving him past 200 career blocks. Meanwhile, Chandler Folkerts, better known as The Chanimal, quietly recorded his 12th double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Off the bench, Rudy Knight came through with 12 points.
The Red Raiders (14-13, 8-10 GPAC) had no answers for Concordia’s weaponry.
“It feels great, especially having a game where we were in control most of the game,” Thomas said. “We were just relaxed and having fun. It’s a good way to end it (at Walz).”
Trailing 27-21 midway through the first half, the Bulldogs got on a roll that resulted in a 61-44 halftime advantage. Concordia made 12-of-17 shots and poured in 40 points over the final 10 minutes of the opening half during a stretch that had the Red Raiders baffled. Pearson styled in transition, Thomas and Ziegler popped from the outside and Folkerts was a bear in the paint. The Bulldogs had it all going on.
To beat Concordia, you’ll have to outgun it.
“Offensively we’re moving the ball better and sharing it and really coming into an identity,” Limback said. “We understand who we need to get it to and at what times. I feel like guys are really buying in as a team and trusting each other.”
Saturday marked the fifth time that Concordia has reached 100 points under Limback. All other instances occurred in overtime games, including the 110-point output in the Nov. 21 win over Morningside.
Northwestern shot 40.5 percent (30-for-74) from the floor and was led by the 19 points from Jordan Baker. The Red Raiders drained 24-of-31 (.774) free throw attempts, but failed to avoid falling to the Bulldogs for the second time this season. Concordia also won in Orange City, 87-81, on Jan. 9.
Pearson and Thomas were two of four seniors honored prior to Saturday’s game. The others were Micah Kohlwey and Alex Wakefield. Kohlwey chipped in six points.
The Bulldogs take a week off before ending the regular season at Briar Cliff (25-3, 16-2 GPAC) next Saturday. Tipoff from the Flanagan Center is slated for 4 p.m. With a win, Concordia can finish as high as a tie for fourth in the league standings.