Concordia’s late rally wasn’t enough, as #16 Morningside College picked up a 77-71 men’s basketball win on Saturday in Seward. The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 18 in the second half, but the Mustangs needed solid free throw shooting in the closing minutes to hold on for the win. Morningside moved to 6-3 overall with a perfect 3-0 mark in conference play. Concordia dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the GPAC.
The first half featured four ties and 10 lead changes. Concordia led by as many as six in the early stages, but the Mustangs used a late run to build a lead before halftime. Morningside led 29-28 with just under four minutes to play in the half. From there, the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run to close the half. Morningside took a 39-28 lead into the break. Morningside was 15-of-29 from the field in the opening 20 minutes for 51.7 percent. Concordia had seven turnovers and was just 11-of-30 (36.7 percent) from the field in the first half. Garth Hamilton scored 13 points for the Mustangs in the half.
Morningside built their lead to 18 (52-34) in the first six minutes of the second half, as Concordia continued to struggle with turnovers. The Mustangs still led by double digits (59-49) with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation. Concordia used a key 11-1 run over the next four minutes to tie the game at 60-60 with 5:40 left to play.
There were multiple ties and lead changes throughout the next few minutes of action. A 3-pointer by Barrett Braun (Lakeside, Calif.) gave Concordia a 67-65 lead, but Morningside answered on the next possession. A 3-pointer by Danny Rudeen put Morningside in the lead for good. Rudeen added a free throw to give the Mustangs a 69-67 advantage. Concordia had multiple chances to tie the game, but back-to-back turnovers proved costly for the Bulldogs. A transition dunk by Bryan Borchers pushed the Mustang lead to four at 71-67 with a minute remaining. Charles Dunbar (St. Louis, Mo.) scored two late layups for Concordia to keep things close, but the Mustangs closed the door with solid free throw shooting down the stretch. Morningside was 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final 30 seconds of the game, and the Mustangs secured the 77-71 victory.
For the game, Morningside was 25-of-52 from the field for 48.1 percent. The Mustangs were 4-of-12 from deep and 23-of-31 at the foul line. Morningside had 22 assists on their 25 made field goals in the win. Trent Miller had a solid all-around game for the Mustangs, finishing with eight points, nine assists, six steals and four rebounds. Garth Hamilton was the offensive star of the game. The senior post scored a game-high 27 points on the night. He was 9-of-16 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 at the foul line. Rudeen added 16 points and three steals, while Borchers chipped in with a pair of dunks, three blocks and 10 points on the night. The Mustangs totaled 38 paint points in the win.
After a tough first half, Concordia responded offensively in the second half. For the game, Concordia was 27-of-58 from the field for 46.6 percent. The Bulldogs were 16-of-28 (57.1 percent) in the second half. Concordia connected on 10-of-23 attempts from long range for 43.5 percent and just 7-of-13 free throw attempts for 53.8 percent. The Bulldogs held a 36-30 rebounding advantage, but 17 turnovers hurt Concordia’s chances, as Morningside finished with 28 points off turnovers and an 18-4 advantage in fast break points. Individually for Concordia, Braun scored a season-high 17 points. The senior was 6-of-10 overall from the field and 5-of-6 from long range. Dunbar added 12 points off the bench, while both Beau Smith (McKinney, Texas) and Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) scored 11 points. Smith added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Adam Vogt (Syracuse, Neb.) added 10 points off the bench for a balanced Bulldog attack.
Concordia hosts Briar Cliff University on December 7. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Walz Complex.