SEWARD, Neb. – The five-game road trip is over for first-year head coach Ben Limback’s Bulldog men’s basketball team. Ending a stretch of 28-straight days without a home game, Concordia welcomes Briar Cliff (13-7, 6-4 GPAC) to Seward for a 4 p.m. tip off on Saturday. The contest is a rematch of the Chargers’ lopsided home win over the Bulldogs (5-13, 2-9 GPAC) on Nov. 23.
The game will be streamed live and free online via the Concordia Sports Network. Concordia head volleyball coach Scott Mattera will call the action.
Recent series history
The Chargers have dominated the series, winning eight-straight meetings with Concordia. The Bulldogs’ last win over Briar Cliff came on Feb. 23, 2010, when they upset the then fifth-ranked Chargers, 64-62. Current graduate assistant coach Dustin Weber started at a guard position in that contest. The most recent meeting was the biggest blowout in the series as Briar Cliff won by a 42-point margin in Sioux City. The Chargers got 18 points from Bryan Forbes and shot a blistering 55.6 percent compared to 31.6 percent for Concordia. On the other hand, both of last year’s meetings were decided by seven points or less.
Last 10 meetings:
11/23/13 – Briar Cliff 103-61 (Sioux City)
2/6/13 – Briar Cliff 72-68 (Seward)
12/5/12 – Briar Cliff 75-68 (Sioux City)
2/8/12 – Briar Cliff 71-65 (Sioux City)
12/7/11 – Briar Cliff 86-74 (Seward)
2/9/11 – Briar Cliff 59-57 (Seward)
1/22/11 – Briar Cliff 79-66 (Sioux City)
2/23/10 – Briar Cliff 62-53 (Seward)
1/23/10 – Concordia 64-62 (Seward)
2/26/09 – Concordia 101-97 OT (Sioux City)
Last time out
Led by a stingy defense that limited Northwestern to 20 second half points, Concordia nearly erased a 17-point halftime deficit before falling 60-56 in Orange City, Iowa, on Jan. 11. The Bulldogs just couldn’t find enough offensive production as they shot 34.4 percent and their trio of leading scorers (Chandler Folkerts, Micah Kohlwey and Robby Thomas) had 10 points apiece. The Red Raiders also limited Concordia top scorer Adam Vogt to nine points on 3-for-8 shooting. The game carried significant weight as far as jockeying for the final couple spots in the GPAC tournament, which fields the top eight teams in the league standings. At 2-9 in the conference, Concordia is 2.5 games out of eighth place.
With 6-foot-3 guard Micah Kohlwey typically assigned to the opposing team’s top backcourt scorer, Concordia’s defense has made a huge leap forward. Even in a pair of losses last week, the Bulldogs held No. 9 Midland and Northwestern to combined second half shooting percentages of 29.5 (13-for-44) and a combined point total of 45. The Bulldogs Midland and Northwestern 59-45 in the second halves but could not overcome 26 and 17-point halftime deficits, respectively. Last week’s solid defensive play helped Concordia move up to No. 5 in the GPAC in field goal percentage defense (.442).
On the grind
Saturday’s contest will mark the 11th time this season (out of 19 games) that Concordia will go up against a team that is either ranked or receiving votes in the national poll. So far the Bulldogs are 1-9 in such games with the lone victory an 85-76 decision over then No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Nov. 9. Concordia has played only four teams that currently have a record below .500. Its first 18 opponents have a combined overall mark of 203-116 (.636). The spectrum ranges from fifth-ranked Dordt (18-2) to nonconference foe Kansas Wesleyan (2-14), whom the Bulldogs defeated 75-72 on the road just before New Year’s.
Bulldogs in the GPAC rankings
Senior Adam Vogt ranks third in the GPAC in free throw percentage (.875), ninth in 3-point field goals per game (2.11), ninth in total 3-point field goals (38), 14th in scoring (14.6 ppg). Sophomore Robby Thomas ranks first in blocks per game (1.89), first in total blocks (34), second in rebounding (7.5 rpg), third in double-doubles (4) and 19th in free throw percentage (.726). Freshman Chandler Folkerts ranks 11th in total blocks (11), 12th in blocks per game (0.61) and 14th in free throw percentage (.750). As a team, the Bulldogs rank fourth nationally in free throw percentage (.754).
Scouting Briar Cliff
Led by the GPAC’s fifth-leading scorer in junior Zach Otting (19.7 ppg), the Chargers boast the third-highest scoring offense in the conference with an average of 84.3 points per game. They have gotten there by making the 11th most 3-pointers (160) in NAIA Division II. While Otting can shoot the trey (36.2 percent), teammate Clayton Harreld is the gunner with 51 triples – third most in the GPAC. In addition, third-year head coach Nic Nelson’s team is coming off 68-66 upset of No. 9 Midland on Jan. 11. Like the Bulldogs, the Chargers have been off since the weekend. Concordia hopes that will be enough to cool down a team that has won four of five games and is receiving votes in the latest national coaches’ poll.