LINCOLN, Neb. – The young Concordia men’s basketball team is still figuring out how to win tight games in the rugged GPAC. That point proved true again on Wednesday night as the Bulldogs fell, 76-70, to host Nebraska Wesleyan at Snyder Arena. Concordia’s last seven losses have all come by six points or less.
Despite a monster game from sophomore Robby Thomas (21 points, eight rebounds, three blocks), the Bulldogs slipped to 7-18 overall and 2-14 in the GPAC.
“I thought Wesleyan’s experience showed in how they kept their composure,” first-year head coach Ben Limback said. “We lost our composure on offense a little bit. We don’t know the different yet between being aggressive and being out of control.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points early in the second half, but Nebraska Wesleyan followed with a 32-13 run over the next 12 minutes to go up double digits with under six minutes remaining. Concordia threatened by getting back within five before running out of gas. While Prairie Wolf sophomore guard Trey Bardsley (19 points) struggled from the field, his 12-for-12 free throw shooting was crucial over the final minutes.
Concordia still had life when Adam Vogt plucked a steal and delivered a three-point play to cut the deficit to 66-60 with 1:29 left. Bardsley then made four free throws, with an empty Bulldog possession sandwiched in between, to put the game on ice.
Thomas powered the 3-point flurry that helped Concordia take a halftime lead. At one point he made 3 of 4 attempts from beyond the arc to quiet the momentum Wesleyan had gained by way of an 8-0 run early on. Behind Thomas’ 13 first-half points, the Bulldogs led 30-27 at the break.
Thomas (5-for-9 from beyond the arc) wasn’t done yet. After struggling to find shots early in the half, the Shawnee, Kan., native got loose again late in the game. He knocked down triples at the 5:20 and 3:50 marks to keep Concordia within striking distance.
“Robby had a great game,” Limback said. “He was very active on both ends and he shot the ball really well.”
Freshman Chandler Folkerts (Milford, Neb.) was effective when he stayed on the court. After being held scoreless in only three first-half minutes, he put up seven points on 3-for-4 shooting after the break.
Four of Wesleyan’s five starters reached double figures, including Eric Jackson who chipped in 16 points and four rebounds. As a team, the Prairie Wolves shot 47.3 percent compared to 45.5 percent for the Bulldogs. Nebraska Wesleyan won for the second time in a row.
Meanwhile, junior Joel Haywood (15 points) and senior Adam Vogt (11 points) joined Thomas in double figures.
Freshman Stephen Llewellyn also saw action and made his only shot attempt in eight minutes.
The Bulldogs take to the road again on Saturday when they play Dakota Wesleyan (13-13, 6-10 GPAC) at 4 p.m. The Tigers dominated the season’s first meeting on the way to an 88-56 victory in Seward on Dec. 20. Dakota Wesleyan fell 100-90 at first-place Dordt on Wednesday.