SEWARD, Neb. – No Robby Thomas. No problem for a Concordia University men’s basketball group teeming with confidence. Fueled by Chandler Folkerts inside and Rudy Knight in the backcourt, the Bulldogs snapped a nine-game series losing streak against Dordt (12-5, 4-4 GPAC) by toppling the Defenders, 87-83, on Saturday afternoon.
Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, winners of three straight, improved to 10-7 overall and 5-5 in conference action.
“We came out with a gutsy performance,” Limback said. “A lot of guys stepped up tonight. With Robby out, we got a lot of different contributions from a lot of guys. It was a well-fought victory over a great team.”
Fresh off his fifth double-double of the season, Folkerts came through with another monster effort, going for 25 points (10-for-15 from the field) and nine rebounds. During a late 13-2 run that gave Concordia the lead for good, Folkerts electrified the crowd with a three-point play followed by a driving layup by Knight that made it 72-61 with 7:51 to play.
But Dordt did not go quietly. Four different Defenders scored during a 9-1 run pulled them within 81-80 with 1:23 left in the game. Knight then stepped up with a cold-blooded triple as part of his career high 17-point performance and the Bulldogs made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal up an entertaining win.
“We had a lot of confidence coming in with two-straight wins and beating the No. 3 team in the nation,” Knight said. “We just came out and were aggressive.”
While Folkerts and Knight grab the headline, the biggest key may have been Concordia’s improved defensive effort. In the first meeting with Dordt, the Defenders piled up 100 points, shot 57.1 percent from the field and got a combined 58 points from the talented combo of Nathan Rindels and Tyler Wolterstorff. This time out Dordt shot only 41.9 percent, compared to 62.0 percent for Concordia, and Rindels battled foul trouble and was limited to nine points.
On this night, Folkerts and Knight served as the dynamic duo.
“I thought Chandler was outstanding throughout the game, especially in the first half,” said Limback, who also commended Knight for his crucial second half buckets. “I really like where our mindset’s at.”
Concordia, which defeated both No. 3 Northwood University and Concordia University Canada earlier this week, trailed by as many as nine points after a 13-4 run gave Dordt a 20-11 first half advantage. Senior Joel Haywood answered with a trey and the Bulldogs whittled the deficit down to 42-38 by halftime.
Concordia sizzled after the break, shooting 65.4 percent from the field while holding Dordt to 38.9 percent and to just 1-for-13 shooting from the 3-point arc. The Defenders entered the afternoon ranked 11th nationally in field goal percentage (.503) and 12th in scoring (87.4).
Haywood (12 points and eight rebounds) and Eli Ziegler (10 points, 2-for-4 on 3-point attempts) joined Folkerts and Knight as double-figure scorers for the Bulldogs, who have won five of their last six games. Knight chipped in three assists in his 23 minutes of action.
Head coach Ross Douma’s squad was paced by the 15 points of Wolterstorff, who led a group of five Defenders with 10 points or more. Rindels was credited with nine assists.
Thomas, averaging 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.94 blocks, missed his first game of the season. He sat out on Saturday due to injury. He is expected back in the lineup soon. Sophomore Justin Damme got the start in place of Thomas.
The Bulldogs remain at home on Wednesday when they welcome eighth-ranked Midland (13-2, 6-1 GPAC), last year’s NAIA Division II runner up, to Walz Arena for an 8 p.m. tipoff. Concordia will attempt to snap a seven-game series losing streak against the Warriors, whose only conference defeat came by a 90-74 score at No. 15 Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 6.