CRETE, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team shot better than 50 percent in both halves on the way to avenging a Dec. 3 home loss to rival Doane. This time around the Bulldogs earned an 80-68 victory in Crete on Wednesday night. The road team has won each of the last four games in the series between Concordia and the Tigers.
Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad jumped above .500 overall at 12-11. The Bulldogs, now 8-4 away from home, improved to 6-9 in league play in a game pivotal to their chances of earning a berth in the eight-team GPAC tournament.
“I don’t know if there’s anything to it,” Limback said of the team’s winning ways away from Walz Arena. “You have to play tough on the road and have that backs against the wall, underdog mentality. I loved our rebounding and like how we guarded better. Any road win in the league is a good win.”
Sharpshooting sophomore guard Eli Ziegler gave Concordia some margin for error on the defensive end with the way he filled it up from deep. The native of Littleton, Colo., poured in a career best 22 points while going 6-for-8 from beyond the arc. Ziegler also provided six rebounds and earned the game ball in the postgame locker room.
But Ziegler wasn’t alone. Sophomore Chandler Folkerts was again deadly accurate on the interior, making 8 of 9 shots as part of a 19-point, eight-rebound performance. Senior Joel Haywood notched 17 points (3-for-5 3-point shooting) and junior Robby Thomas dropped 16 points to go along with six boards, six blocks and four assists.
While Doane (9-15, 4-10 GPAC) came back to tie in the first half after trailing by as many as 10 points, the Bulldogs never allowed the host Tigers to take the advantage at any point. Concordia ended the first half on a 7-0 run to go up 42-35 at the break.
Any chance Doane had a big second half rally ended with Ziegler and Haywood connected on treys on back-to-back possessions to grow the Bulldog lead to its largest, 69-52, of the evening. The Tigers never got any closer than 10 points the remaining eight minutes of play.
Concordia finished the game 10-for-25 from 3-point range with Ziegler and Haywood combining for nine of those treys. With 17 points, Haywood pushed his career total to 984. In addition, Thomas’ six blocks put him just three away from Glen Snodgrass’ single-season program record of 59 in 1997-98.
The Bulldogs will turnaround quickly and fly out of Omaha early Thursday morning in preparation for the 64th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament hosted by Concordia University, Ann Arbor. CUNE will play Concordia University, Chicago (6-13) at 3 p.m. EST on Friday in the opening men’s game of the event. The Bulldogs are defending CIT champions and their 25 all-time CIT titles lead all Concordias.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” Limback said. “We have a couple guys banged up, but we’ll be ready to go. It’s a big weekend that a lot of people look forward to. It will be a fun time.”