SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team weathered Mount Marty’s hot outside shooting and rolled up a 94-79 victory inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. The visiting Lancers, winless in conference play, had no answer for the three-headed Bulldog monster of Chandler Folkerts, Jamie Pearson and Robby Thomas.
The win completed a perfect 2-0 week at home for third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which is now 8-3 overall and 4-3 against GPAC competition.
“You have to hand it to them. They made some threes and stuck it to us,” Limback said. “We just never could pull away. Offensively, I have no doubt we can score.”
Mount Marty (1-10, 0-5 GPAC) struggled all afternoon to match up with Folkerts inside. The 6-foot-8 big man went a perfect 10-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line on his way to 23 points. He may have had a career day if not for foul trouble that limited him to 25 minutes.
Folkerts simply passed the baton to Thomas in the second half. Thomas had his way in the paint in a dominant effort that saw him go for 19 of his 24 points over the game’s closing 20 minutes. At one point Thomas geared up to pound a monster one-handed jam, only to be fouled hard at the rim.
“A lot of it was teammates being able to draw defenders away,” Thomas said. “I got a lot of open shots with them keying in on Jamie and Chandler. They just got me the ball in a good spot to score in.”
Thomas’ production was key as Mount Marty staged an 11-0 run midway through the second half. Patrick Ciganovic capped the spurt with a deep catch-and-shoot triple that got the Lancers within nine (72-63). Eli Ziegler quickly answered with his fourth trey of the game. Just a 32.5 percent 3-point shooting team entering the day, Mount Marty kept competitive by living on the three ball (13-for-28). The Lancers got as close as eight points (79-71) with under eight minutes remaining.
Even with KJ DeCristino and Cody Willettt bombing away, Mount Marty failed to get enough stops to avoid its 30th-straight conference defeat. The Bulldogs converted on 63.5 percent (33-for-52) of their field goal attempts and equaled the Lancers’ 13 3-point field goals. Pearson and Ziegler both knocked down four treys and Thomas went 3-for-3 from the 3-point range (8-for-8 overall from the field).
Folkerts (994 career points) may have joined the program’s 1,000-point club if not for foul trouble. The Milford native picked up his fourth foul at the 15:59 mark of the second half and retreated to the bench. He sat for nearly 10 minutes before returning to the floor. Pearson (21 points) joined Folkerts and Thomas as 20-point scorers.
Concordia’s terrific trio averages a combined 55.7. They added up to 68 on Saturday to fend off upset-minded Mount Marty.
“We were playing great on offense,” Thomas said. “Our movement was good. We were knocking down a lot of shots and we came out with the win.”
DeCristino led all scorers with 25 points (10-for-19 shooting). The Lancers shot 50 percent (27-for-54) from the floor on a day that featured an impressive offensive display on both sides.
The Bulldogs will play once more before Christmas when they travel to Sioux Center, Iowa, for next Friday’s (Dec. 18) matchup with Dordt (8-6, 4-3 GPAC). The Bulldogs defeated the Defenders, 100-95, in overtime on Wednesday. Both teams are receiving votes in the national poll.