Bulldogs unable to slow No. 16 Briar Cliff
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A surging Briar Cliff squad scorched from the opening tipoff as the 16th-ranked Chargers sent the Concordia University men’s basketball team to its third-consecutive defeat. The 89-69 victory in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night gave Briar Cliff (17-4, 9-2 GPAC) its 11th win over its past 12 outings.
Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 10-10 overall and 5-8 in league play. The Bulldogs remain above .500 away from home at 6-4.
“The tougher team won,” Limback said. “They came out swinging and we didn’t answer the bell. I felt like this was one of the first times all season we didn’t come out prepared for a battle.”
While Concordia shot 47.2 percent and got junior Robby Thomas (missed the Jan. 10 overtime loss to Northwestern) back in the lineup. It just wasn’t enough to overcome Briar Cliff’s big offensive night and the performance of sophomore guard Shane Graves. The contest’s leading scorer with 20 points, Graves scored in transition midway through the first half to push the Chargers out to a 31-14 lead that the Bulldogs never dug out of.
The combo of Thomas and Chandler Folkerts tried to carry Concordia. At one point the duo had 30 of the team’s 39 points. Thomas recorded 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in his return to the lineup. Folkerts came up with 18 points (8-for-13 from the field) and seven rebounds.
Limback says the team needed more production out of its backcourt, which was too prone to turnovers against a Charger team adept at taking the ball away.
“It was nice to see Robby score early on after being out last week,” Limback said. “Now we need others to inspire others to be great. We had to bring our ‘A’ game tonight and have them miss some shots – and that certainly did not happen.”
Head coach Nic Nelson’s squad, which has continued to rise up the national rankings after being unranked in the preseason, used a balanced attack that featured five different double-figure scorers. Junior forward Austin Homan made all five of his shots for 12 points and guard Zach Otting went 4-for-5 and finished with 10 points. They helped Briar Cliff remain undefeated (10-0) at home.
The Chargers led by as many as 22 points in the second half. They maintained an advantage of 14 poitns or more throughout the final 20 minutes.
Concordia had not played a true road game since upsetting No. 3 Northwood University, 86-70, in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Dec. 29.
The Bulldogs will have a chance to snap their three-game skid when they welcome Hastings (6-15, 3-8 GPAC) to town on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tipoff. The visiting Broncos have lost 10-consecutive games since upsetting then No. 20 Tabor College (Kan.), 84-76, on Nov. 29. In this season’s first meeting with Hastings, Concordia recorded a 77-74 victory inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Nov. 25.