SEWARD, Neb. – Visiting Morningside entered the weekend red hot from the 3-point arc and didn’t slow down on Saturday night. The Bulldogs (2-4, 0-1 GPAC) fell victim to the hot-shooting Mustangs, 85-67, to open up GPAC play.
“That was a big key coming into the game – contesting their threes,” Concordia head coach Ben Limback said. “Unfortunately we just didn’t do a good job of communicating and switching. We gave them too many wide open looks. You’ve got to hand it to them – they stuck the open looks tonight.”
The 3-point happy Mustangs (3-2, 1-0 GPAC) heated things up from deep right away, jumping out to a 23-10 lead midway through the first half on the back of 5 of 7 shooting from three. For the game, the Mustangs, who entered play ranked seventh in NAIA Division II in 3-point field goals per contest, drained 13 of 21 shots from beyond the arc.
Limback’s group gave Morningside a taste of its own medicine after the Mustangs had built a lead as large as 28 points in the second half. Senior guard Adam Vogt drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and junior guard Isaiah Bockelman followed with a 3-pointer of his own to cut the deficit down to 21 at 65-44. A few minutes later Morningside had restored its 28-point advantage to put the game out of reach.
Bockelman (Lincoln, Neb.) emerged as a bright spot for the Bulldogs as he came off the bench to knock down 4 of 6 shots from long range. He finished with 12 points in 14 minutes, reaching double figures for the first time in his career. As a team, Concordia also shot well from downtown, connecting on 11 of 26 tries (42.3 percent).
The Bulldogs simply could not keep up with the potent Morningside tandem of Tanner Miller and Jared Kolbush. They combined for 33 points while making 9 of 14 3-point shots. Miller finished with a game high 19 points.
Freshman Aaron Walker topped Concordia with a career high 15 points. Vogt also reached double figures with 10.
Sophomore Robby Thomas rejected three more shots on Saturday. He came into action with a GPAC-leading 14 blocks – only one fewer than the national best. Thomas’ five rebounds led the Bulldogs on Saturday. Morningside held a 38-24 team advantage on the glass.
Overall, the Mustangs shot 51.9 percent (28-for-54) from the field compared to 39.6 percent (21-for-53) by Concordia.
Limback felt the Bulldogs needed to get the ball down low to their freshmen Chandler Folkerts and Justin Damme more often.
“I thought our inability to get the ball inside (was a factor),” Limback said. “We just shot too many perimeter shots and we did not contest their threes. They had too many open looks for good shooters. That was the story of the day.”
Saturday’s contest marked the fourth straight at home for Limback’s crew. The Bulldogs will go on the road for the first time in conference play when they take on Briar Cliff (4-2, 2-0 GPAC) in Sioux City, Iowa, at 4 p.m. next Saturday. The Chargers won both meetings last season.