LINCOLN, Neb. – After a tepid first half, Nebraska Wesleyan exploded out of the halftime break and withstood yet another huge effort from The Chanimal. The Prairie Wolves’ 57.6 percent second half shooting and 16 treys sunk the Concordia University men’s basketball team, 96-83, on Wednesday night inside Snyder Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. Still in a battle for a top-eight spot required to reach the GPAC tournament, the Bulldogs slipped to 15-10 overall and 7-9 in conference play.
“In the first half I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball and getting good shots. We played well defensively,” Limback said. “Second half they really hurt us with penetration and we helped off some guys off the bench that hit some big shots. We didn’t guard the way we needed to.”
The Bulldogs held high-powered Nebraska Wesleyan (15-6, 10-5 GPAC) to 30.8 percent (12-for-39) shooting in the first half and led 39-35 after 20 minutes of play. Concordia trailed 22-13 early on, then went on an 18-3 splurge by following the lead of beastly Chandler Folkerts inside. Folkerts had seven points during the run and finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, marking his GPAC-high 12th double-double on the campaign.
However, it did not take long for the Praire Wolves to regain the advantage in the second half. Providing the star power on the other side, sharpshooting guard Trey Bardsley went for a game high 29 points while dishing out six assists. Robby Thomas gave Concordia its last lead of the game, 47-46, with a layup at the 17-minute mark, but Bardsley followed with a score of his own and Wesleyan led the rest of the way.
Perimeter defensive issues again surfaced for the Bulldogs, who allowed the Prairie Wolves to drain 8-of-15 second half 3-point attempts. Three of which came from Max Cook, who entered the contest averaging 4.9 points per game. Travis Giesselmann booked 18 points (6-for-20 shooting), eight assists and seven boards.
All five starters played more than 30 minutes with each reaching double figures as part of another solid outing offensively for Concordia. Thomas followed Folkerts with 15 points, Eli Ziegler dropped 14, Kohlwey had 11 and Pearson notched 10 to go along with six assists and six rebounds. The bench contributed only six points. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 49.3 percent (34-for-69) compared to 43.1 percent (31-for-72) for Nebraska Wesleyan. The Prairie Wolves made up the difference by going 18-for-21 (.857) from the foul line.
While Concordia was efficient inside, it struggled from long range (6-for-25 on 3-pointers). The Bulldogs had outrebounded 18 of their first 24 opponents this season, but were outnumbered, 42-39, in that department on Wednesday.
Nebraska Wesleyan, which began the week ranked second among NAIA Division II teams in scoring (94.4 ppg), earned won both regular-season meetings with Concordia. The Prairie Wolves are 8-2 at home this season.
The Bulldogs will be away from Walz Arena for a fourth-straight outing when they make the trek to Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tipoff at Morningside (10-14, 6-9 GPAC). Concordia can finish off a regular-season sweep of the Mustangs with a victory. In this season’s first matchup, the Bulldogs won, 110-99 in overtime, in Seward.