SEWARD, Neb. – A frustrating pattern continued on Wednesday night when the Concordia men’s basketball team found itself down double digits in the opening half. Reminiscent of last week’s comeback victory over Concordia Ann Arbor at CIT, the Bulldogs battled back to take the lead. But it was not to be this time as visiting Doane College sent first-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad to an 82-77 defeat.
Concordia dropped to 7-16 overall and 2-12 in GPAC action.
“(Domonique) Smith had another good game at their place and tonight was no different,” Limback said. “They have some guys that are tough matchups for us. We did a pretty good job on their leading scorer (Nick) Reed but 34 points to one guy just isn’t going to get it done.”
Smith powered Doane (11-12, 4-10 GPAC) to a lead as large as 11 points in the first half. He then made sure the Tigers did not let one slip away by coming up with crucial buckets in crunch time. The 6-foot-4 senior guard poured in five points during the Tigers’ 9-0 run that pushed Doane in front 76-71 with 3:09 left.
The capper for Smith (34 points on 13-for-23 shooting from the field) was his steal and thunderous breakaway dunk that seemingly put the Bulldogs on their heels. But yet Concordia kept on coming and was within a nose of tying it up when Joel Haywood’s 3-point attempt misfired with :41 remaining.
“I liked how we fought and took the lead down the stretch,” Limback said. “We just didn’t make the plays to win the game. You have to tip your cap to Doane. They made the plays.”
A strong second half push spurred by freshman Chandler Folkerts put the Bulldogs in position to win their third-straight game. Folkerts, who put up 18 points and 10 rebounds for his second-straight double-double, racked up 14 points after halftime.
Folkerts would be aided by the hot shooting of his teammates. Down 63-51, the Bulldogs put together a 14-0 spurt to take the lead with 7:01 left to play. The run was fueled by sizzling 3-point shooting as Concordia connected on four-straight attempts from beyond the arc. Included in the surge was one trey apiece from Justin Damme (12 points, 5-for-5 from the field), Haywood, Aaron Walker and Robby Thomas (12 points, six rebounds, two blocks).
Despite the loss, the growth of the big guys – Folkerts and Damme – bodes well for the future.
“I thought Chandler again had a good second half,” Limback said. “Justin didn’t miss a shot tonight. He did a great job.
“Really, offense wasn’t our problem tonight – it was just stopping Smith.”
Senior Adam Vogt finished with 12 points to join Damme, Folkerts and Thomas in double figures on a night when Concordia shot 52.9 percent from the field and went 9-for-19 from deep.
Meanwhile, Doane shot 51.8 percent and got 10 or more points from Deonte Holt (15), Reed (11) and Nate Kuhl (10), in addition to Smith’s 34.
The Bulldogs will go back on the road next time out when they battle Mount Marty (3-19, 1-13 GPAC) in Yankton, S.D., at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Concordia is looking for a season sweep of the Lancers after having won the first meeting 81-67 in Seward on Dec. 14. Mount Marty’s single conference victory came at Nebraska Wesleyan on Jan. 4.