MEQUON, Wis. – The Concordia University men’s basketball flipped the script at Saturday’s 63rd annual Concordia Invitational Tournament title game and roared out of the gates. The hot early start helped the Bulldogs seize their tournament record 25th CIT championship in program history. First-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad held off Concordia University Wisconsin for a 68-64 win inside jam-packed R. John Buuck Field House.
“I’m just so proud of the guys,” Limback said. “I thought both teams deserved to win tonight based on how hard they were playing. I’m so proud of the guys for how hard they fought and the intensity they brought.”
The Bulldogs’ Adam Vogt (14 points) picked up tournament MVP honors by remaining unflappable no matter the situation. The senior floor general shook off a pair of charging calls and dropped in one of the game’s biggest shots with a corner triple as the Falcons attempted to rally back. The 3-pointer made it 63-55 with 3:54 left.
“Last year we fell short to Wisconsin in the championship game at our place and we came up here and we stole it,” Vogt said. “I know these guys are going to win many more after I’m gone.”
After Vogt’s three, the Falcons came right back with a 9-2 run that left the Bulldogs clinging to a 65-64 advantage. That’s when big freshman Chandler Folkerts, an all-tournament selection, came up with a layup and a pair of free throws in the final minutes to stave off the CUW rally.
Folkerts piled up 18 points and 12 rebounds a night after putting up 14 points and seven boards. The Milford, Neb., native was one of three Bulldogs to reach double figures on Saturday, along with Vogt and sophomore Robby Thomas (11 points, seven rebounds, three blocks).
“This weekend a lot of guys stepped up and played well,” Vogt said. “And Joel Haywood the last three games – Hastings and now CIT – he’s starting to play like we all know he can. If we keep that up collectively, we’ll have a good chance these last seven games.”
The frenetically paced title game saw the Bulldogs hold the advantage for almost the entirety of the action in front of a rowdy CUW home crowd. Unlike Friday when the Bulldogs found themselves down 18 in the first half against CU-Ann Arbor, CUNE put together a strong first half in which it shot 46.7 percent. The Bulldogs led by as many as 10 points and took a 35-30 lead to the half.
Vogt’s contributions went past the box score. Limback praised the native of Syracuse, Neb., who totaled 24 points on the weekend.
“(He makes) a lot of big shots,” Limback said. “Adam’s such a competitor. He hit a big three and then a big free throw at the end to put us up four. He provides a lot of the toughness in our team and we’re finally starting to get it out of some other guys.”
That toughness showed up on the defensive end, particularly in the second half when CUW managed to shoot only 29.7 percent. The Bulldogs also held a 41-34 advantage on the glass.
The Falcons were led by the 18 points from Eric Kittel, who went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs have finished non-conference action for the season and will return home on Wednesday to host Doane (10-12, 3-10 GPAC) at 8 p.m. CUNE won the first meeting in Crete by a count of 86-81 on Dec. 4. The Tigers topped Mount Marty, 78-65, on Saturday.
The Bulldogs will look to carry the momentum into GPAC play.
“This weekend was an awesome weekend and it was a goal of ours to come here and get a victory in the championship game,” Limback said. “The first thing we’re going to say is don’t be satisfied.”
CIT All-Tournament Team:
MVP: CUNE – Adam Vogt
CUNE – Chandler Folkerts
CUAA – John Schaeffer
CUC – Brandon Stinson
CUW – Garret Wenzelburger