MITCHELL, S.D. – Concordia University men’s basketball isn’t for the faint of heart. Twenty-four hours after dropping a wire-to-wire battle at 18th-ranked Briar Cliff, the Bulldogs celebrated a 109-106 overtime upset at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it The Chandler Folkerts Game. The Chanimal went off for a career high 37 points in a signature performance on Sunday afternoon in Mitchell, S.D.
Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has made an impressive late-season run, winning seven of its last eight games. Concordia now sits at 19-9 overall and at 8-8 in conference play.
“There were so many toughness plays,” Limback said. “It felt like they had all the momentum heading into overtime. I mean, Chandler Folkerts was huge, huge tonight. I can’t say enough about him at both ends. Seth (Curran) hit some really big free throws and did some nice things offensively.
“To bounce back after last night and do this in overtime shows just how much these guys want it right now. We just have to keep it going.”
This was a gut-check victory. The Bulldogs relinquished a late 10-point lead and watched Tate Martin force the extra session with a game-tying trey in the final seconds of regulation. Concordia even faced a four-point overtime deficit and then trailed 106-105 with less than 10 seconds remaining. Eli Ziegler attacked with the game-winning layup and the Bulldogs got a steal on the other end.
Leading by three points with :1.7 left in overtime, Concordia still had to survive one last Dakota Wesleyan possession, but the Tigers failed to get a shot off. The Bulldogs could finally exhale with their fifth win over a ranked opponent (second over Dakota Wesleyan) in the books.
“Seeing our seniors step up and make plays down the stretch should give us the confidence that we can go anywhere in this league and win,” Limback said. “Gut it out, whatever it takes. I feel like the seniors are really willing us right now and providing that hunger our team needs.”
The Chanimal fed his appetite by feasting in the paint. He made 16-of-23 shots from the floor on the day and snared 14 rebounds to go along with two blocks in 36 minutes of action. Dakota Wesleyan was helpless to defend him in the second half, during which he totaled 21 points.
Folkerts has scored 1,928 points in his career that has included many memorable performances. This one will be remembered for a long time.
“He’s had perfect games where he’s pretty much scored every time he’s touched it. He’s done a lot of things in his career,” Limback said. “But it would be hard to find a game that has been this good. To do this after playing that many minutes against Briar Cliff is impressive. I can’t say enough about what he did tonight.”
Folkerts and the other seniors were big time from an offensive standpoint. Eli Ziegler racked up 25 points while making 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range. Curran was clutch from the line, making 8-of-9 free throws on his way to 17 points. He also dished out six assists. The future of the program looks promising with the continued rise of Clay Reimers, who added 16 points and six rebounds and had a crucial game-tying basket in overtime.
Concordia shot 57.7 percent (41-for-71) from the field and still narrowly won due in large part to the incredible game produced by Tiger point guard Tate Martin. He made 14-of-21 shots from the field, piled up a career high 35 points and dropped 12 dimes. Additionally, Jason Spicer had 29 points and nine rebounds, Trae Vandeberg posted 17 points and Ty Hoglund recorded 16 points in the shootout.
The Bulldogs will play on the road for the third-straight time when they travel to play Hastings (14-14, 8-8 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff from Lynn Ferrell Arena is set for 8 p.m. CT. In this season’s first matchup between the two sides, Concordia fended off a late push by the Broncos and won, 78-76, inside Walz Arena on Jan. 25.