SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Twenty-eight days after a 23-point home loss to nationally-ranked Dordt, the Concordia men’s basketball team had the 11th-ranked Defenders on upset alert in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon. The host Defenders (16-1, 8-0 GPAC) dominated down the stretch and melted away a 16-point first-half Bulldog lead for a 69-61 come-from-behind victory.
Concordia, who played a ranked team for the eighth time this season, dropped to 5-11 overall and 2-7 in conference play.
“Really pleased with the effort,” first-year head coach Ben Limback said. “We showed a lot of mental toughness and kept fighting and fighting. When Dordt would make a run, someone would step up and make a play for us. I was pleased with our competitiveness and overall effort.”
The Bulldogs rode the hot shooting of Robby Thomas (10 points) and Adam Vogt (19 points, 5-for-9 3-point shooting) and a spirited first-half defensive effort in pushing Dordt to the brink. The Bulldogs held the lead for roughly 34 minutes of game time. Dordt finally took the lead at the 5:56 mark when Kyle Lindbergh knocked in a pair of free throws.
Concordia answered the Defenders’ initial run that began late in the first half and spilled over into the second half. After Dordt scored nine of the first 11 points in the second half, Vogt splashed in a long 3-pointer to squelch the Defender momentum and provide a 39-35 lead with 17:18 remaining.
The 5-foot-9 native of Syracuse, Neb., made another big triple a few minutes later that boosted Concordia’s lead to 47-42 at the 12:55 mark. Concordia would hang onto the advantage for another seven minutes until the Defenders made the game-winning push.
Lindbergh played a huge role in Dordt avoiding its first GPAC loss. He amassed 17 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks to control the action inside. Led by Lindbergh’s monster night on the boards, the Defenders outrebounded Concordia 45-33.
“You have to hand it to Dordt,” Limback said. “Lindbergh had a tremendous game. We couldn’t score anything inside with him in there. I thought we were a little timid attacking the basket. We showed our youth.”
Another key storyline involved the foul trouble that Thomas and Vogt played through. Both Concordia standouts had three fouls by the early minutes of the second half. They played a combined 48 minutes – 12 below their collective season average.
The other Bulldog to reach double figures in scoring was Micah Kohlwey, who had 10 points. Junior Joel Haywood added nine points and freshman Chandler Folkerts pitched in six points and six boards. Limback commended Kohlwey once again for his play on the defensive end.
Against a solid Concordia defensive performance, Dordt shot only 35.5 percent in the first half before improving to 50 percent in the second half. On the other hand, the Bulldogs were limited to 5-for-25 shooting in the second half.
Dordt fifth-year head coach Ross Douma praised Concordia in his postgame radio interview, saying the Bulldogs improved immensely from their previous meeting in Seward.
“This should give our guys some confidence,” Limback said. “It was a difficult environment and a great crowd. We showed a lot of poise. I think we did grow up. I told them after the game that I was proud of their effort. At the same time, we can’t be satisfied.”
The Bulldogs continue their road trip next week when they take on No. 15 Midland (14-1, 6-1 GPAC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Concordia will aim to end a five-game losing streak in the series against the Warriors, who have won 11-consective contests.