Smith and Birtell combine for 45 points, Bulldogs rally for 95-88 win over Grace

By on Nov. 12, 2011 in Men's Basketball

Smith and Birtell combine for 45 points, Bulldogs rally for 95-88 win over Grace

The Concordia University men’s basketball team rallied in the second half for a 95-88 win over Grace University on the final day of the Northwestern Tournament.  The Bulldogs outscored Grace 54-36 in the second half to pick up the win.  Concordia moved to 3-1 with the victory.  Grace slipped to 0-4. 

Grace led by as many as 16 (46-30) in the opening half of play.  A layup by Tyler Byrd (Bennington, Neb.) pulled the Bulldogs within 11 (52-41) heading into halftime.  Concordia shot it well in the opening half, hitting 18-of-34 shots overall for 52.9 percent.  The Bulldogs totaled 28 points in the paint in the opening 20 minutes.  Grace was even better from the field, however, hitting 20-of-33 shots for a sizzling 60.6 percent.  Grace was also hot from deep in the opening half, connecting on 8-of-16 shots from long range.  The Grace College bench also held a 27-12 scoring advantage over Concordia’s bench in the opening half of play. 

Concordia opened the second half on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to six at 54-48.  The Royals rebuilt the lead to nine on two occasions, but Concordia continued to chip away at the lead.  Trailing 64-56 with just over 13 minutes remaining in regulation, the Bulldogs used a key 12-0 run to grab a 68-64 lead with around 10 minutes remaining. 

The Royals didn’t go quietly, however, and an 18-6 run put Grace back on top by the score of 82-74 with six minutes remaining in regulation.  Concordia again had an answer, this time using a 16-2 run to grab a 90-84 lead with a minute remaining.  Beau Smith (McKinney, Texas) and Joel Haywood (Lakewood, Colo.) combined to go 5-of-6 at the foul line down the stretch to secure the 95-88 victory. 

Concordia finished with a 40-26 advantage in paint points.  Grace held a 42-22 advantage in bench scoring.  The Bulldogs were 34-of-62 from the field for 54.8 percent.  Concordia was 16-of-28 from the field in their big second half, including hitting 6-of-10 shots from long range.  Smith and Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) had big nights for the Bulldogs in the win.  Smith scored a team-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field.  Birtell added a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds.  He was 10-of-19 from the field.  Haywood (13 points) and Adam Vogt (11 points) also reached double figures for Concordia in the win. 

Grace was 33-of-59 from the field (55.9 percent) in the loss.  Jonathon Loutzenhiser scored a game-high 25 points for the Royals on 9-of-16 shooting.  JJ Hartung added 23 points off the bench on 8-of-12 shooting.  The duo combined to hit seven 3-pointers in the contest.  Spencer Plank also reached double figures with 12 points. 

Concordia will travel to Nebraska-Omaha on Monday evening for an exhibition game against the Mavericks.  Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Omaha.