2014-2015 Men's Basketball

16-15 Overall, 9-11 GPAC - Season Stats

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER

Oct. 31 Kansas Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled Salina, Kan. W, 85-72
Nov. 1 Bethel College (Kan.) Webcast Scheduled Newton, Kan. L, 65-67
Cattle Classic: Nov. 7-8 (also view Cattle Classic page for more tournament info):
Nov. 7 York vs. Avila  Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. 3 p.m.
Nov. 7 Grace University  Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 60-73
Nov. 8 Grace vs. York  Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. 11 a.m.
Nov. 8 Avila University  Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb W, 89-62
Nov. 12 * Mount Marty College Webcast Scheduled Yankton, S.D. W, 88-70
Nov. 15 * (12) Morningside College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 76-87
Nov. 18 * Briar Cliff University Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 66-70
Nov. 22 York College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 76-71
Nov. 25 * Hastings College Webcast Scheduled Hastings, Neb. W, 77-74

DECEMBER

Dec. 3 * Doane College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 66-71
Dec. 6 * Dordt College Webcast Scheduled Sioux Center, Iowa L, 79-100
Dec. 10 * Nebraska Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled Lincoln, Neb. W, 96-78
Dec. 13 * Mount Marty College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 78-60
Dec. 19 * (4) Dakota Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled Mitchell, S.D. L, 78-91
Dec. 29 (3) Northwood University (Fla.) Webcast Scheduled West Palm Beach, Fla. W, 86-70
Dec. 30 Concordia University (Canada) Webcast Scheduled West Palm Beach, Fla. W, 78-71

JANUARY

Jan. 3 * Dordt College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 87-83
Jan. 7 * (8) Midland University Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 76-86
Jan. 10 * Northwestern College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 106-108 (OT)
Jan. 17 * (16) Briar Cliff University Webcast Scheduled Sioux City, Iowa L, 69-89
Jan. 21  * Hastings College Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb.  L, 60-87
Jan. 24 Grace University Webcast Scheduled Omaha, Neb. W, 78-58
Jan. 28 * Doane College Webcast Scheduled Crete, Neb. W, 80-68
Concordia Invitational Tournament:  Jan. 30-31 (All times are EST)
(view the CIT pages at CUNE for more information) WATCH LIVE
Jan. 30 CU-Chicago Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 84-73
Jan. 31 CU-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 49-52

FEBRUARY

Feb. 4 * Nebraska Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled Seward, Neb.  W, 86-83
Feb. 7 * (6) Dakota Wesleyan University Webcast Scheduled (Senior Day) Seward, Neb. L, 83-92
Feb. 11 * (12) Midland University Webcast Scheduled Fremont, Neb. W, 79-71
Feb. 14 * Northwestern College Orange City, Iowa W, 76-74
Feb. 21 * (7) Morningside College Sioux City, Iowa L, 84-90
GPAC Tournament: Feb. 25, 28, March 3
Feb. 25 (3) Dakota Wesleyan University (Quarterfinals) Webcast Scheduled Mitchell, S.D. L, 64-78
Feb. 28 GPAC Semifinals TBD TBD
March 3 GPAC Championship TBD TBD

MARCH

NAIA National Tournament: March 11-17
March 11-17 TBD Point Lookout, Mo. TBD

 

2014-15 Bulldog Men's Basketball

Varsity Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown Previous School
10 Kevin White G 6-1 Fr. Palos Hills, Ill. Stagg
12 Robby Thomas F 6-7 Jr. Shawnee, Kan. Maranatha Academy
14 Eli Ziegler G 6-0 So. Littleton, Colo. Heritage
20 Micah Kohlwey G 6-3 Jr. Seward, Neb. NE Wesleyan Univ. / Seward
22 Joel Haywood G 6-4 Sr. Lakewood, Colo. Denver Lutheran
23 Seth Curran G 6-1 So. Omaha, Neb. Omaha Burke
24 Rudy Knight G 5-11 Fr. Katy, Texas Mayde Creek
30 Reilly Carew G 6-2 Fr. Castle Pines, Colo. Parker Lutheran
32 Max Wegener F 6-9 So. Wildwood, Mo. Eureka
34 Stephen Llewellyn C 6-5 So. Oakley, Kan. Oakley
42 Alex Wakefield F 6-3 Jr. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln East
44 Chandler Folkerts C 6-8 So. Milford, Neb. Milford
50 Justin Damme C 6-10 So. Cook, Neb. Johnson County Central
52 Nathan Toenjes F 6-7 Fr. Green Bay, Wis. N.E.W. Lutheran


Junior Varsity Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown Previous School
10 Ryan Olson G 6-0 Fr. Yankton, S.D. Yankton
12 Logan Fleming G 6-0 Fr. Polk, Neb. High Plains
14 Christian Martinez G 6-0 So. Frederick, Colo. Frederick
20 Seth Curran G 6-1 So. Omaha, Neb. Omaha Burke
22 Isac Splattstoesser G 6-0 Fr. Alda, Neb. Heartland Lutheran
24 Ryan Mitteis G 6-0 Jr. Creighton, Neb. Creighton
30 Scott Johnson F 6-5 Fr. Kansas City, Kan. Shawnee Mission North
32 Aaron Anderson G 6-2 So. Fort Morgan, Colo. Fort Morgan
34 Kenny Blank G 5-8 So. Madison, Neb. Lutheran Northeast
40 Matt Goedeken F 6-4 So. Dodge City, Kan. Dodge City
42 Arrin Rathke G 5-10 Fr. Norfolk, Neb. Lutheran Northeast
44 Josh Kirkwold G/F 6-4 Fr. Sioux Falls, S.D. Roosevelt
50 Devin Beller F 6-8 So. Lindsay, Neb. Humphrey
52 Dillon Harms G 6-4 Fr. North Branch, Minn. North Branch
54 Stephen Llewellyn C 6-5 So. Oakley, Kan. Oakley

 

 

Men’s basketball picked eighth in GPAC preseason poll

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team, now in its second season under the direction of head coach Ben Limback, will be expected to make a move up in the GPAC standings in 2014-15. On Tuesday league coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish eighth in the conference.

Concordia will return the bulk of its roster from last season when Limback broke in plenty of young and inexperienced players. Guard Joel Haywood serves as the team’s lone senior for the Bulldogs, who could pose problems for opponents with their length and athleticism in the form of Chandler Folkerts (6-8), Robby Thomas (6-7) and Max Wegener (6-9).

With some of the growing pains out of the way, Limback is confident the Bulldogs will make a leap forward after last season’s 8-21 campaign.

“Any time you’re young and you have a new coach and a lot of new things in a tough league in the GPAC, it’s not going to be easy,” Limback said. “We didn’t meet our expectation by any means, but I do feel that we got something out of the season and something we can build on for this year for sure.”

Midland topped the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll with 98 points and eight of the 11 first-place votes. The Warriors advanced to the NAIA Division II national title game last season.

2014-15 GPAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Midland – 98 points (8 first-place votes)
2. Morningside – 88 (2)
3. Dakota Wesleyan – 83 (1)
4. Briar Cliff – 71
5. Dordt – 70
6. Northwestern – 51
7. Hastings – 43
8. Concordia – 39
9. Doane – 30
10. Mount Marty – 17
11. Nebraska Wesleyan – 15

Season preview: 2014-15 men’s basketball

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

At a glance
2013-14 Record:
 8-21, 3-17 GPAC (10th)
Head Coach: Ben Limback (at Concordia: 8-21, 2nd year; career: 123-179, 10 years)
Returning Starters: Chandler Folkerts (So.), Joel Haywood (Sr.), Micah Kohlwey (Jr.), Robby Thomas (Jr.)
Other Key Returners: Justin Damme (So.), Max Wegener (Jr.), Aaron Walker (So.)
Key Losses: Adam Vogt
2013-14 GPAC All-Conference: Adam Vogt (second team), Chandler Folkerts (honorable mention), Robby Thomas (honorable mention)

Outlook
While last season’s record fell short of where second-year head coach Ben Limback wants his Bulldogs to be, important lessons were learned as part of the growing process for a program that basically rebooted itself in 2013-14. Limback’s squad tasted success by winning the Concordia Invitational Tournament, but most of the season was spent learning how to compete in the rugged GPAC.

Limback hopes those lessons pay off in terms of better results this time around. Four starters return with second team all-conference selection Adam Vogt the only key piece moving on.

“Last year was definitely a learning experience for all of us, myself included with it being my first year in the GPAC,” Limback said. “Adam did a tremendous job last year with a very, very young team. A number of freshmen had to play right away and even sophomores that didn’t see a lot of minutes the previous year had to play significant minutes. We didn’t meet our expectation by any means, but I do feel that we got something out of the season and something we can build on for this year for sure.”

Concordia has some big reasons, literally, to be optimistic about this season. Limback will have the opportunity to go with a long and athletic frontline of sophomore Chandler Folkerts (6-8), junior Robby Thomas (6-7) and redshirt sophomore Max Wegener (6-9) while also sprinkling in 6-foot-10 sophomore Justin Damme and a blend of newcomers.

The real key may be the development of Folkerts, who dominated at times in the paint as a freshman. He shot 62.2 percent from the field and averaged 11.2 points as part of a solid first season. The post from Milford, Neb., may soon be ready to claim a spot among the top frontcourt players in the GPAC. Limback has been impressed by Folkerts’ increased willingness to attack the basket with authority.

“We’re expecting big things out of Chandler,” Limback said. “He’s a very unselfish kid. He works extremely hard. He’s talking more this year which is great to see. He knows that we really want him to be more selfish in the post. We want him to be more available in there. His body type, his athleticism – he’s made some big improvements from last year. He’s dunking like crazy right now in practice and a lot of it’s his mindset and aggressiveness.”

Thomas made a big leap forward while playing more than 30 minutes per game as a sophomore. He established himself as a terrific shot blocker (52 blocks) while posting 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

The tall and lean combo of Thomas and Wegener (only three games in 2013-14 due to ACL tear) could be a real pain for opponents. Wegener totaled 39 points and 19 rebounds over the first two games of 2013-14 before going down with an injury in last season’s home opener.

“Robby is coming on,” Limback said. “You can see the confidence is much different this year than it was in the beginning of last year. I think he knows what to expect. We call Robbie a difference maker.

“As far as Max, you don’t know what to expect after an injury,” Limback said. “But his talent level and ability are there. He can shoot it and he’s skilled for a 6-9 guy. He’ll add some depth and definitely some scoring and rebounding for us this year.”

While the frontcourt is a unit with exciting potential, the most experience comes from the backcourt in the form of versatile 6-foot-4 senior guard Joel Haywood. The 2011-12 co-GPAC newcomer of the year has played in 78 games over the past three seasons, amassing 723 points. Haywood is comfortable playing the point or off the ball in Limback’s motion offense.

“I like both of them,” Haywood said. “We have a couple of young point guards who will definitely contribute and help us out. I might be seeing a little more 2 (guard) but I’ll definitely be playing the 1 as well.”

Having played for head coaches Grant Schmidt as a freshman and Marty Kohlwey (now the top assistant) as a sophomore, Haywood likes the direction of the program that now has more stability with a second-straight year under the same leader.

“It’s nice to have the same coach two years in a row,” Haywood said. “It seems like that’s something people take for granted. I’ve gotten to develop my relationship with Coach Limback and get used to how he wants things done and how we can work together. It’s been really nice to have him a couple years back-to-back.”

The other significant returners in the backcourt include junior defensive stopper Micah Kohlwey (7.6 ppg, 79.2 FT%), budding sophomore Aaron Walker (3.9 ppg) and sharpshooting sophomore Eli Ziegler (44.2 3-pt%). Kohlwey started 18 games last season and will figure into the mix along with Haywood.

The backcourt will also look to newcomers as part of the rotation. Chicago-area native Kevin White (6-1) may get a crack at the point guard role while Rudy Knight (5-11) of Katy, Texas, is another freshman who has impressed during preseason practice.

“Kevin White is very talented and can get the ball up and down,” Limback said. “He’s very unselfish but he can also score. Rudy Knight is extremely quick. He changes the game defensively on the ball. He can push it. He’s still adjusting to the speed and decision-making of the game, but I think he’s going to help us this year as well.”

Several other freshmen have a shot to contribute. Foremost among that group is 6-foot-2 freshman Reilly Carew (Castles Pines, Colo.), another backcourt option. Limback also likes what he has in rookies Nathan Toenjes (6-7, Green Bay, Wis.) and Dillon Harms (6-4, North Branch, Minn.).

The new group brings winning high school pedigrees to Walz Arena. Says Limback, “To have guys with experience winning and know what it takes to win at a high level should translate eventually to college.”

Preseason practice has revealed an obvious elevated level of overall talent and experience within the program. Naturally, familiarity and comfort levels are rising with much less upheaval occurring over the past season. Limback hopes that continuity will breed success for a program seeking its first winning season since 2010-11.

“We were just talking as a coaching staff the other day how this year just feels like we’re further along than we were the first year,” Limback said. “I’ve been pleased with our progress. We still have a ways to go, especially defensively. I like the attitude of our returners and what their mindset is towards helping the new guys along because we’ll be counting on some of those new faces. Having four starters back in a league like this is going to be great. There are some new faces that will be pushing those guys.”

Haywood, who came to Concordia with plenty of acclaim out of Denver’s Parker Lutheran High School, wants to ensure that his career ends with his best season yet. He is confident the Bulldogs will be much improved despite its preseason placement of eighth in the GPAC poll.

“I don’t know if it’s an under-the-radar thing, it’s more of a chip on the shoulder,” Haywood said. “We take that as why not given everything we have? We can make something out of this season and make the most out of it. I think that’s what is motivating us.”

Limback’s squad opens the season on Friday, Oct. 31 at Kansas Wesleyan (7 p.m.). The Bulldogs remain in the state of Kansas to take on Bethel College the following day.

Last-second shot lifts Bethel over Bulldogs

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – Adam Arciniega’s driving, game-winning bank shot with :4.5 remaining lifted host Bethel College to a 67-65 victory over the Concordia University men’s basketball team in a game played in North Newton, Kan., on Saturday night. The Bulldogs let a late 65-62 lead slip away and finished its two-game, season-opening Kansas trip at 1-1.

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad failed to carry over its impressive offensive second half in a come-from-behind win at Kansas Wesleyan a night earlier. The Threshers of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference held the Bulldogs to a 32.8 shooting percentage of Saturday.

“We had our chances. We missed a lot of finishes inside,” Limback said. “We expect some nights that we’re not going to shoot it well, but we really struggled to finish for whatever reason. The missed bunnies and 17 turnovers cost us. We made some bad decisions and had very poor movement without the ball.”

After Arciniega’s late bucket, the Bulldogs had once last chance. Limback called for timeout to set up a play. The final horn sounded before senior Joel Haywood could fire up a potential game-winning trey.

According to Limback, Concordia may have been too reliant upon budding junior Robby Thomas, who notched his second-straight double-double by registering 19 points and 13 rebounds. He also added another four rejections. He teamed with Chandler Folkerts, who equaled Thomas with 19 points and 13 boards, to give Concordia a solid 1-2 punch on the inside.

Folkerts and Thomas combined to shoot 12-for-24 from the field. The rest of the team went 9-for-40 as part of a frustrating offensive night.

“I thought we could have done more inside,” Limback said. “Chandler had a solid game but I think even he would tell you that he left some points out there. We needed some others to step up and score. I thought Rudy (Knight) gave us a little spark off the bench. We just didn’t see enough consistency as a team.”

Arciniega emerged as the star of the night. He poured in 27 points, hauled in nine rebounds and dropped six dimes in addition to sinking the back-breaking shot in the final seconds. Said Limback, “Their guy had a tremendous game.”

In a contest that was nip and tuck throughout, Concordia was unable to duplicate its long-range assault from the night before. The Bulldogs went 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. Thomas and Eli Ziegler knocked down two 3-point field goals apiece.

The key moving forward will be to find consistent compliments to Thomas.

“This one really hurt,” Limback said. “We want to perform better and this was a game we felt like we should have won. I walked into the locker room after the game and our guys had their heads up. They’re hungry to work and know we need to improve. We need to get more guys contributing.”

The Bulldogs will host their home opener on Friday, Nov. 7 as part of the two-day, 15th annual Cattle Classic. First up is in-state Grace University at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Thomas near triple-double not enough in home-opening loss

SEWARD, Neb. – Up against an improved Grace University squad, the Concordia University men’s basketball team relinquished a second-half advantage in dropping its second-straight game. The visiting Royals spoiled the opening day of the 15th annual Cattle Classic by going on a late 14-0 run to pull away for a 73-60 win over the Bulldogs on Friday night.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad went on a scoring drought of almost five minutes down the stretch, delivering a fatal blow to the Bulldogs’ chances.

“We lost composure,” Limback said. “Even in the first half, we didn’t share the ball. We didn’t move it well enough. Offensively – this for three games now – we just don’t have a flow. I don’t feel like we’re making an extra pass. We’re just not very sharp right now, especially on offense.”

Even the shot-blocking machine Robby Thomas could not make up for a lack of offensive output in crunch time. Instead it was sophomore guard Jarrod Sheffield who rose to the occasion. Sheffield put up seven of his game high 19 points during the 14-0 spurt that turned a one-point Grace deficit into a 13-point lead with 4:20 to play.

Thomas, who ended up with 15 points, nine rebounds and a career high eight blocked shots, finally ended the Grace run with a pair of free throws at the 4:02 mark. However, the Bulldogs mustered only two made field goals over the final nine minutes and never got closer than 11 following the Royal second half run.

Limback used 12 different players in an effort to slow down Grace and find a successful combination. However, Concordia could not overcome its 36.4 percent shooting and 22 turnovers on the night.

“We’re trying to find a mix,” Limback said. “It’s still early. We want to try to see some guys and see what they can do. You have to hand it to Grace. They really played hard and were active, but we didn’t take advantage of our size and we didn’t finish well inside.”

There was at least one instance in which Concordia finished with authority. After Thomas missed a driving layup in the opening minute, 6-foot-8 Chandler Folkerts followed it up with a thunderous tip slam that ignited the Walz crowd. Four of Folkerts’ six points came on put backs. He also added 10 rebounds.

The Bulldogs lead by as many as eight points in the first half. Trailing 15-12 in the early going, Concordia reeled off 11-straight points. The spurt was punctuated by consecutive treys from lefty shooters Micah Kohlwey and Thomas.

The shot-blocking native of Shawnee, Kan., finished as Concordia’s only double-figure scorer. Kohlwey and freshman Rudy Knight chipped in nine points apiece.

The Royals (3-1), who have also beaten Mount Marty this season, got 18 points and 10 rebounds from Ayotunde Akinbote and 17 points and five steals from Hakeem Stewart. Grace shot 45.8 percent from the field on the night.

Both teams struggled from the foul line. The Royals went 12-for-20 (.600) from the charity stripe while Concordia went 13-for-22 (.591) on free throws.

The Bulldogs resume play at the Cattle Classic on Saturday when they host Avila University (Mo.) at 3 p.m. Earlier on Friday, the Eagles surrendered a late lead and fell, 82-77, in overtime to York College in the first men’s game of the event hosted by Concordia.

Behind hot shooting, Bulldogs rebound with blowout win over Avila

By Sarah Bowe

SEWARD, Neb. – Rebounding from a disappointing loss on Friday, the Concordia University men’s basketball team defeated visiting Avila University, 89-62, in the final game of the 15th annual Cattle Classic on Saturday afternoon. As part of the two-day event, Concordia also fell, 73-60, to Grace University on the previous night.

Junior Robby Thomas, who was named to the All-Cattle Classic team for the Bulldogs notched 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals to fuel Saturday’s win.

“We had a player’s meeting today,” Thomas said. “We want to focus on coming together more as a team and getting behind each other through the good things and the bad things. I think we really came out and played more as a team today.”

Whatever they talked about, it worked. Concordia shot 62.2 percent from the field and went 23-for-29 (.793) from the free throw line in rolling past the visiting Eagles.

“Yesterday, and really the first three games, we haven’t come out and played as aggressive as we need to,” head coach Ben Limback said. “Today was much better. I loved our energy and I’m very proud of the guys and how they came back.”

Thomas started the night off right by sinking a three point shot 18 seconds into the game, setting the tone for the rest of the game. In addition to Thomas, the Bulldogs were led by senior Joel Haywood and junior Micah Kohlwey. The group finished with 37 combined points while shooting 52 percent from the field (10-for-19).

Thomas led all scorers with his 13 points, followed closely by both Haywood and Kohlwey with 12 points each. Thomas went 4-for-7 from the field and 3-for-5 behind the arc. Haywood went 2-for-4 from the field and Kohlwey nailed 4 of 8 shot attempts.

The Bulldogs were an impressive 10-for-21 from beyond the 3-point line. On the other hand, Avila was limited to 34.9 percent shooting.

Concordia maintained at least a 15-point spread throughout the entire second half. Its 27-point margin of victory was its largest advantage of the night.

 “The difference was definitely in ball movement,” Thomas said. “We were a lot more patient. Avila pressured us, so we wanted to slow the game down and get some rotations and ball movement. We just waited for the shots to open up; they did and we knocked them down.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Yankton, S.D., on Nov. 12 to play Mount Marty College at 8 p.m. and then return to Walz Arena for a matchup with Morningside College Nov. 15 at 4 p.m.

“There’s a lot we need to work on,” said Thomas. “But today was a good sign that we are starting to get a little chemistry on the court and learn to play together with the new guys; they’ve been stepping up a lot. The returners have been playing good as well; I’m excited for conference games.”

2014 All-Cattle Classic Team
F - Darreon Tolliver, York College
F - Leldon Love, York College
F - Robby Thomas, Concordia University
G - Sedrick Johnson, Avila University
G - Jarrod Sheffield, Grace University

Three-point flurry buries Mount Marty

YANKTON, S.D. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team used a flurry of long-range bombs to build a double-digit first-half advantage on the way to an 88-70 GPAC-opening win at Mount Marty on Wednesday night. Coming off an 89-62 win over Avila University on Nov. 8 (the program’s largest margin of victory in six years), the Bulldogs began conference play in impressive fashion.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad moved to 3-2 overall with its second-straight lopsided victory.

“We’ve really made an emphasis on making the extra pass and playing for each other,” Limback said. “We did that right away tonight. Rudy (Knight) got us going early on. I think our shot selection from three was really good. Any time you have as much balance as we had it makes it much more difficult to defend.”

Five different Bulldogs made at least one trey as part of a collective 10-for-19 shooting effort from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Rudy Knight got the barrage started with a pair of triples in the opening three minutes that got Concordia out to a quick 10-3 lead. The Bulldogs shot 47.6 percent for the night and never trailed in a game that it controlled virtually the entire way.

Just when the Lancers got some momentum in cutting a 19-point second-half deficit to 12, junior Micah Kohlwey stepped up to deliver the dagger. He nailed a trey and then added a layup with 4:33 left to push the advantage back up to 18 and put the game out of reach.

For the second-consecutive time out, Limback liked the way his team rotated the ball offensively. Concordia’s well-executed motion offense resulted in five double-figure scorers. Senior Joel Haywood leading the way with 16 points. He was joined by Robby Thomas (14), Chandler Folkerts (11), Knight (11), Folkerts (11 points and 10 rebounds) and Eli Ziegler (10) as Bulldogs with 10 or more points.

Off the bench, freshman Nathan Toenjes again made a big impact. He produced eight points and six rebounds in nine minutes of floor time.

Concordia picked up the road win despite a monster scoring performance from Mount Marty guard Bud Smith, who piled up 21 first-half points and 30 points for the game. He also pulled in seven rebounds and dished out five assists.

“He’s a great player,” Limback said. “He’s tough to guard. He’s very good off the dribble. In the second half we did a much better job of making it difficult for him. We have to do a better job to shut down the other team’s scorer.”

Smith went 10-for-17 from the field, but the rest of the Lancer team managed to make only 15 of 43 shots. That lack of output doomed Mount Marty to an 0-5 start to the season.

The Bulldogs return to Seward to host their GPAC home opener on Saturday. No. 12 Morningside (4-0) will serve as the opponent for a game slated to tip off at 4 p.m. The Mustangs, led by Steve O’Neill’s 20.3 points per game, have already defeated two ranked opponents – No. 18 William Penn University and No. 20 Ashford University.

Concordia now has plenty of confidence of its own.

“It’s great to get a win on the road like this, but the goal hasn’t changed,” Limback said. “We still have a lot of things we need to improve on. If we want a chance to beat Morningside on Saturday we have to play better defensively and we have to rebound better, but I do like our mindset.”

Men’s basketball welcomes No. 12 Morningside on Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time this season, head coach Ben Limback’s Bulldogs will go up against a ranked opponent when No. 12 Morningside invades Walz Arena for a 4 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. The visiting Mustangs (4-0) are one of 28 NAIA Division II teams with unblemished records in the early season.

Meanwhile, Concordia has righted the ship after a frustrating second-half performance in a loss to Grace University on day one of the Cattle Classic. Since then the Bulldogs have routed both Avila University (Mo.), 89-62, and Mount Marty, 88-70, to give themselves momentum going into this weekend’s big test. Better ball rotation the last two games has produced a combined shooting percentage of 53.7 (58-for-108) following two losses in which Concordia shot below 37.0 percent.

Statistically, 6-foot-7 Robby Thomas does it all for the Bulldogs. He tops the team in scoring (16.8), rebounding (9.4) and blocks (4.0). He also dishes out two assists per game and swipes 1.4 steals per contest. The Shawnee, Kan., native, who ranks second nationally in blocks, is the catalyst for NAIA Division II’s second-rated shot blocking team (7.4 per game).

Behind Thomas, Joel Haywood, Micah Kohlwey and Eli Zieger, Concordia has been lights out from 3-point range. All four are shooting at least 39.5 percent from beyond the arc for a team that ranks 16th nationally in 3-point field goals per game (9.0) and 26th in 3-point field goal percentage (.398). Haywood, Concordia’s lone senior, is second to Thomas with an 11.8 scoring average. Sophomore Chandler Folkerts (10.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.63 bpg) continues to be the team’s top post presence.

Morningside’s impressive 4-0 start has included a pair of wins over top-20 squads – No. 18 William Penn University (112-100) and No. 20 Ashford University (67-54) – and another over a team receiving national votes – Grand View University (86-78). Senior guard Steve O’Neill has fueled the two top-25 wins, going for 31 and 26 points, respectively, in those contests. O’Neill paces the Mustangs with 20.3 points per game. He’s shooting 47.6 percent from long range.

Last season Morningside ranked fifth among all NAIA Division II teams with a 40.3 percentage from beyond the arc. The Mustangs went 25-9 for head coach Jim Sykes and reached the national tournament. Despite saying goodbye to sharpshooter Danny Rudeen, Morningside garnered the No. 2 spot in this year’s GPAC preseason coaches’ poll.

The Mustangs have won each of the last six meetings with the Bulldogs. Concordia is seeking its first win over Morningside since sweeping two regular-season games from the Mustangs during the 2010-11 campaign. In last season’s meeting in Seward, Morningside made 13 of 21 triples on the way to an 85-67 win inside Walz Arena. Tanner Miller enjoyed a big day for the Mustangs, going 5-for-7 on 3-point attempts en route to a game high 19 points.

Bulldogs unable to slow unbeaten Morningside

SEWARD, Neb. – Twelfth-ranked Morningside continued its early-season roll by shooting 52.5 percent on the way to an 87-76 win over the Concordia University men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs were plagued by 22 turnovers – 15 in the first half – in falling for the first time in GPAC play.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad dropped back to .500 at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in conference action.

“Against a great team like Morningside, we couldn’t afford to make a lot of mistakes,” Limback said. “We had 15 turnovers at the half. The second half was better, but we just weren’t sharp. I didn’t feel like we were finishing plays. We have to have a belief coming in. I don’t think we expected to win this game.

“When we play aggressive and really attack and share it, it’s a different story.”

Concordia absorbed Morningside’s initial charge. After digging a 15-4 deficit in the opening eight minutes, the Bulldogs stormed back on the strength of their outside shooting. They took their only lead of the game when Aaron Walker splashed home a trey to make it 25-23 at the 4:51 mark. The Mustangs responded to Concordia’s 19-8 run by building up a 37-30 halftime advantage.

Topped by Ryan Tegtmeier’s (11-for-11 foul shooting) 20 points, Morningside never allowed Concordia to get any closer after the intermission. The Mustangs were white hot over the final 20 minutes, shooting 60 percent (18-for-30) from the field and 84.6 percent (11-for-13) from the free throw line.

The Morningside lead expanded to as many as 17 points in the second half. The Bulldogs crept back into the game by jumping on senior Joel Haywood’s back. The native of Lakewood, Colo., scored seven-straight Concordia points to cut the Morningside advantage to 75-67 with 3:04 remaining. Steve O’Neill followed with a dagger of a 3-pointer to push the Mustang lead back to double digits.

Sophomore post Chandler Folkerts turned in another solid effort in the post. He recorded his third double-double already this season by notching team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Good things happened when the offense flowed through the Milford native.

“We got a lot of touches to him. I thought he looked a lot more comfortable in the second half,” Limback said. “We’re going to need him to be. He’s got so much ability and great touch.”

Limback again went deep into the bench, using a total of 12 different players. Walker had a productive 18 minutes, chipping in eight points (2-for-2 from both the 3-point and free throw lines), four rebounds and two assists. Freshman guard Kevin White put forth one of his better performances in his career, posting 10 points and two steals in 22 minutes. Haywood finished with 16 points.

The Mustangs, who own two wins over top-20 foes, placed five individuals in double figures in scoring. O’Neill back Tegtmeier with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

Junior Robby Thomas played only 17 minutes for Concordia due to foul trouble. He still managed eight points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Bulldogs remain at home on Tuesday to host Briar Cliff (3-1, 0-0 GPAC) at 7 p.m. The Chargers opened up conference play at home versus Doane in a contest that tipped off at 8 p.m.

Briar Cliff holds off late Haywood-charged rally

SEWARD, Neb. – Despite a late comeback effort that made the final minute tense, the Concordia University men’s basketball team fell at home for the second-straight time in GPAC play. Visiting Briar Cliff (5-1, 2-0 GPAC) held on for a 70-66 victory inside Walz Arena on Tuesday night.

Senior Joel Haywood and junior Robby Thomas sparked a rally from a 10-point halftime deficit. The Bulldogs got within two before a pair of Charger free throws with under three seconds left iced the game. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad moved to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

“I thought we competed tonight,” Limback said. “It’s another good team we played. We knew coming in that we had to compete hard to have a chance. I thought we hung in there. Offensively we tried to find that balance between being too aggressive and forcing things.

“I have to give our guys credit for doing some nice things down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs got back into the game midway through the second half with an 11-2 run, capped by Thomas’ trey, to cut a 13-point deficit to just four, 47-43. Thomas came up with a big second half after a mostly quiet first 20 minutes. He piled up all 11 of his points and each of his four blocks after the intermission to aid the Bulldog spurt.

After Briar Cliff pushed its lead back up to nine with 3:18 to play on Shane Graves’ jumper, Haywood went to work. The versatile guard responded with a three-point play. He tallied seven of his game high 20 points in the closing three minutes, including a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining that got Concordia within two.

Down 68-66 with under five ticks left, Concordia forced a turnover underneath its own basket on the ensuing inbounds. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs turned it right back over when Thomas’ foot came down out of bounds after he received a pass. Clay Harreld then sank two free throws to end the Bulldogs’ bid for a come-from-behind win.

“It was a lot of movement offensively,” Haywood said of the rally. “A big part of our team is confidence. We have to come out and be the aggressor. We can’t be on our heels. We were able to be the aggressor more in the second half and that led to the tempo being what we wanted it to be.”

Haywood was also part of a solid defensive effort that limited one of the NAIA’s best outside shooting teams to 4-for-16 from beyond the arc. There wasn’t a whole lot Haywood didn’t do well on a night he turned in five rebounds, four assists, two steals and just two turnovers in addition to his 20 points.

The play of Haywood, Thomas in the second half and the overall defensive effort were big positives on Tuesday.

“This needs to give us confidence going into the next game,” Limback said. “Briar Cliff’s a great offensive team and we liked how we competed defensively, especially in the second half.”

Harreld topped the Chargers, whose only came outside the conference to Clarke University, with 17 points. Graves added 14 points and prolific scorer Zach Otting chipped in 13 (3-for-9 shooting).

In the post, Chandler Folkerst just missed out on his third-straight double-double for Concordia. He recorded 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs dip outside the conference on Saturday and host York College (6-3) at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Panthers won last season’s meeting by a score of 86-79 in a game played at the Freeman Center in York.

Folkerts, Bulldogs fend off Panther rally

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team saw a 12-point second half lead melt away before it recovered for a 76-71 nonconference victory over York College inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. Behind productive games from Chandler Folkerts and Robby Thomas, the Bulldogs shook off a two-game losing streak with a solid offensive performance.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad evened its overall record at 4-4. The Bulldogs are now 3-2 outside of conference action.

“York made a comeback at the end but I felt like our team was the aggressor tonight,” Limback said. “It’s good for us. We needed this one. I feel like we’re doing some better things defensively. Offensively we’re moving the ball better.”

The Bulldogs overcame their 23 turnovers by shooting 51.0 percent from the field. Folkerts was a pillar of efficiency, making all eight shots from the field and all five attempts from the free throw line. He finished with a game high 21 points to go along with five rebounds, three blocks and two steals while not turning it over even once.

“Our offense has gotten better and better each game, I think,” Folkerts said. “Tonight we definitely found a rhythm. We just had guys attacking at the right time and making the right pass.”

Following a 21-9 York (6-4) run that pulled the game into a 67-67 draw with 2:19 left to play, senior Joel Haywood came through in the clutch. He put up seven of his 11 points over the final two minutes. That stretch included a tiebreaking three-point play. He also assisted Folkerts on a key layup in the closing 50 seconds. Haywood then sank a pair of free throws with five seconds left to seal up a five-point win.

Like usual, Thomas filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks, four assists and a steal in 28 minutes of action. He provided the biggest roar from the Walz crowd with his thunderous one-handed dunk after driving the right baseline. The native of Shawnee, Kan., totaled 11 of his points after halftime.

The Panthers, topped by Daymian Marshall’s 16 points, actually hoisted 25 more shots than Concordia. Still, York managed only one more made field goal and was unable to overcome a disadvantage at the foul line.

Limback liked the way his team’s aggressive approach that yielded 28 free throw attempts (23 makes). The Bulldogs focused their game plan on feeding Folkerts.

“The big thing tonight was we wanted to go through Chandler and the big guys inside,” Limback said. “We did that much better in the second half. It was good to have Max (Wegener) out there tonight and to get him some touches and a feel for the game.

“We’re just trying to get better every night. I thought we made a step tonight.”

Wegener, who played in only three games last season due to a torn ACL, saw nine minutes of action. He scored two points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot. As a team, Concordia swatted eight Panther shots. The Bulldogs entered the night ranked fourth among all NAIA Division II teams with an average of 6.3 blocks per game.

Freshman guard Rudy Knight (10 points, four rebounds, three assists) joined Folkerts, Haywood and Thomas in double figures in scoring. Haywood added five steals and four assists.

The Bulldogs will be action once more before the Thanksgiving holiday when they travel to play Hastings (4-4, 3-1 GPAC) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Broncos have won each of the last four meetings with Concordia.

White leads balanced attack in victory at Hastings

HASTINGS, Neb. – Trailing by 11 points right out of the gates, the Concordia University men’s basketball team showed how much its grown already this season. Behind a rapidly improving freshman backcourt duo, the Bulldogs marched back to claim a 77-74 win at Hastings (4-5, 3-2 GPAC) inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Tuesday night.

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad edged back above .500 overall at 5-4. Concordia is now 2-2 in GPAC play with both conference wins coming on the road.

“We made a lot of toughness plays,” Limback said. “We faced adversity and our guys were able to overcome it with a real heady effort. We started to miss some free throws and we weren’t rebounding very well for a while in the second half. Then we settled down and had some nice attacks. That’s what we need – for guys to step up when the momentum shifts.”

Tobin Reinwald had one last chance to force overtime when his buzzer-beating 3-pointer over an outstretched Robby Thomas misfired. That came on the heels of two Haywood free throws that followed a triple by the Broncos’ Connor Musiel with :5.3 remaining. Finally Concordia could exhale as Reinwald’s attempt came up empty.

Freshman guard Kevin White helped put the Bulldogs into position for a win with his best performance as a Bulldog. He poked the ball loose from Reinwald for a key steal on a Hastings possession in the final minute. He also racked up a team-high tying 14 points (career best) on 6-for-10 shooting. The Chicago area native took charge during an impressive second-half spurt that opened up a 55-47 Bulldog advantage.

White (24 minutes) and fellow freshman Rudy Knight (10 points 19 minutes) were called on for quality minutes in a bid to beat the GPAC’s fourth-place finisher in 2013-14.

“They’re both relied upon a lot to handle the ball,” Limback said. “They both bring different things for us. This was Kevin’s best game. He was aggressive and got us going in transition. Rudy gave us a flurry of threes. They add some serious speed in our transition game.”

Limback also got 10 points or more from Thomas (14), Chandler Folkerts (11) and Haywood (10). Thomas, who put up nine of his points in the second half, nailed a pair of critical jumpers during a 10-0 run that put Concordia up 72-66 with less than three minutes left.

Thomas and the Bulldogs also got it done on the other end, holding Hastings to 36.5 percent shooting. Prior to a narrow 80-79 loss to No. 12 Morningside on Nov. 22, the Broncos had won three-straight games, including a 71-60 victory over No. 20 Tabor College (Kan.).

Concordia bumped its road record to 3-1 on the year. Based upon where their road victims finished last season, the Bulldogs just picked up their most significant win of the young campaign.

“This was a great road win,” Limback said. “Hastings is a very good team. Obviously any road win in this league is great. We have to keep getting better and build upon it. We’ve been competitive against good GPAC teams and I think our best basketball is ahead of us.”

Reinwald finished with a game high 18 points for the Broncos. Zach Lenagh chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Bulldogs will be off the remainder of the week for the Thanksgiving holiday. They will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 3 when they host Doane (4-6, 1-3 GPAC) at 8 p.m. In last season’s two meetings, the visiting team won both contests.

Bulldogs seek third-straight win in Wednesday battle with Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – Aiming for its first three-game winning streak since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team continues GPAC play tonight (Wednesday). Doane (6-6, 1-3 GPAC) serves as the opponent for a game set to tip off at 8 p.m. from Walz Arena.

Fans are encouraged to dress accordingly for the Hawaiian-themed evening that includes a women’s basketball game to begin the night. A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

Defense paves way for improvement
Concordia jumped back over .500 at 5-4 overall by holding its last two opponents to a combined shooting percentage of .358 (49-for-137) on the way to wins over York College (76-71) and Hastings (77-74). Both the Panthers and Broncos shot below 37 percent. Among GPAC teams, the Bulldogs rank first in blocks per game (6.3), second in field goal percentage defense (.415), third in steals per game (8.9) and fourth in scoring defense (71.8).

High five
By earning its fifth win of the season on Nov. 25, head coach Ben Limback’s squad has put itself well ahead of the pace from the prior two campaigns. The 2012-13 Bulldogs recorded their fifth victory on Jan. 25 while the 2013-14 team notched win No. 5 on Dec. 30. This year’s Bulldogs, the highest scoring (75.8 ppg) since the 2003-04 team averaged 79.5 points, are pushing for the program’s first above .500 finish since the 2010-11 season.

Thomas does it all
Robby Thomas continues to blossom in his junior season. The native of Shawnee, Kan., tops Concordia in scoring (14.4 ppg), rebounding (8.3 rpg) and blocks (3.22). The nation’s third leading shot blocker, Thomas ranks favorably among GPAC players in a host of statistical categories.

Thomas ranks among GPAC players

  • 1st in blocks per game (3.22)
  • 1st in double-doubles (3)
  • 3rd in rebounds per game (8.3)
  • 5th in 3-point field goal percentage (.472)
  • 8th in field goal percentage (.484)
  • 11th in points per game (14.4)
  • 14th in 3-point field goals/game (1.89)

Road warriors
While the Bulldogs sport a 2-3 home record, they have won three of four road outings, including both GPAC away games. Concordia owns road wins over Hastings (77-74), Kansas Wesleyan (85-72) and Mount Marty (88-70). The three road victories already equals the Bulldogs’ season total from 2013-14 and eclipses the two away wins by the 2012-13 team. Among GPAC teams, only No. 2 Midland (6-0), No. 11 Morningside (4-0) and No. 15 Dakota Wesleyan (4-0) have better road records than Concordia.

From the charity stripe
Concordia has made hay at the free throw line early this season, making 75.3 percent (14th best among all NAIA Division II teams) of their 227 attempts. The Bulldogs also get to the charity stripe more frequently than most of the 133 teams that make up NAIA Division II men’s basketball (see list below). Only 17 teams in the nation shoot more than the 25.2 free throws the Bulldogs attempt per game. Three of the top eight in the country reside in the physically-imposing GPAC. Individually, Concordia’s most frequent free throw shooters are also its best. Joel Haywood owns a 90.0 percent (45-for-50) free throw percentage while Chandler Folkerts knocks down 82.5 percent (33-for-40) of his attempts from the charity stripe.

Most free throw attempts/game (NAIA DII)
1. Dordt (Iowa) – 34.3
2. Reinhardt (Ga.) – 31.9
3. Northwestern (Iowa) – 29.5
3. Purdue Calumet (Ind.) – 29.5
5. College of the Ozarks (Mo.) – 28.7
6. Bellevue (Neb.) – 28.4
7. Southwestern (Kan.) – 28.1
8. Morningside (Iowa) – 27.9
9. Johnson & Wales (Colo.) – 27.2
9. Thomas (Ga.) – 27.2
11. Jamestown (N.D.) – 27.0
12. Northern New Mexico – 26.9
13. Bryan (Tenn.) – 26.1
14. Saint Xavier (Ill.) – 25.9
15. Saint Francis (Ind.) – 25.8
16. Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) – 25.7
17. Huntington (Ind.) – 25.4
18. Concordia – 25.2 

Doane goes for third-consecutive win
Like Concordia, the Tigers are coming off back-to-back wins. Doane defeated Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foes in No. 20 Tabor College and McPherson College over the weekend’s Hastings Classic. Third-year head coach Jim Weeks’ squad owns a conference home win over Dordt (92-82). Its three GPAC losses have come at the hands of Briar Cliff (64-48), Hastings (63-62) and No. 2 Midland (72-55). Junior guard Deonte Holt tops the team with a scoring average of 16.5.

Offensive struggles send Bulldogs to home defeat

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team stumbled out of the gates offensively, digging a hole that it eventually burrowed out of before ultimately falling at home. Visiting Doane went on a decisive 13-5 late run on Wednesday night en route to a 71-66 victory over the Bulldogs inside Walz Arena.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad – now 2-4 at home and 3-1 away from Walz – dropped back to .500 overall (5-5) and 2-3 in GPAC action. Limback says that shot selection doomed the Bulldogs against the rival Tigers.

“We took the lead and I thought we had some momentum there,” Limback said. “But then we didn’t really understand what was giving us that momentum. We really took a lot of bad shots tonight. Down the stretch we needed to go inside to Chandler in the post and get to the free throw line. We didn’t have a lot of turnovers, but a bad shot is just like a turnover.”

Trailing 24-10, the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 spurt capped by a Robby Thomas triple from the right corner. After a slow start, Thomas ignited on the way to his GPAC-leading fourth double-double of the season (18 points and 12 rebounds in addition to four blocks).

In the end, the clutch shooting of Trevor Cyboron (16 points, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc) and the hustle of Michael Herrmann (12 rebounds) proved too much to overcome. With Doane (7-6, 2-3 GPAC) clinging to a 56-54 lead, Cyboron drilled a triple and then a shot in the lane to make it a seven-point Tiger advantage heading into the final three-and-a-half minutes.

Behind suddenly hot 3-point shooting, Concordia made Doane earn the win in the closing minute. The Bulldogs got one field goal apiece from Joel Haywood, Reilly Carew and Eli Ziegler in the final 31 seconds, but Doane’s 6-for-8 free throw shooting during that stretch was enough to secure its seventh victory of the campaign.

Concordia finally took its first lead of the night when Haywood splashed in a trey at the 13:28 mark of the second half, lifting the Bulldogs to a 42-41 advantage. The largest Concordia lead of the night was just two – coming after Ziegler knocked home a three with 10:55 left in the game.

In an early season of ups and downs, Concordia has dropped three of its last four at home, but won three of four on the road.

“I think the guys are excited to play in front of the home fans and on the home court,” Limback said. “Tonight we just didn’t play tough. We did some things that we don’t normally do. I expected more fight out of us tonight and we just didn’t have it.”

Folkerts (11 points) and Haywood (10 points) joined Thomas in double figures. Haywood added four assists for a Bulldog team that shot 38.3 percent compared to 41.1 percent by Doane. Both teams took care of the ball with Doane turning it over eight times to Concordia’s seven miscues.

The Bulldogs will attempt to keep their perfect GPAC road mark (2-0) intact when they take on Dordt (8-4, 1-3 GPAC) in Sioux Center, Iowa, at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Concordia has dropped each of the last eight meetings with the Defenders, who have reached the national tournament three years running.

Do-it-all Thomas blossoming in junior season

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

In the opening game of this season, junior Robby Thomas went for a career high 23 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in fueling a comeback win at Kansas Wesleyan University. The performance signaled the start of something special for Thomas, who is coming into his own now in his third season as a Bulldog.

Said head coach Ben Limback after the game, “He does everything for us. He’s in for a great season.”

Not bad for someone who entered his senior year at Maranatha Academy in Shawnee, Kan., unaware if he would even play basketball beyond high school. Long and lean at 6-foot-7, Thomas has the height of a post player and the skills of a guard. He will block your shot or pick your pocket on one end, and then pull up for three or dunk over the top of you on the other.

Really, there’s not much Thomas can’t do on the hardwood. He’s become one of the nation’s top shot blockers at 3.3 denials per game in serving as Concordia’s human eraser.

“In high school I was a shot blocker,” Thomas said. “It helps being as tall as I am and having a long wingspan. We’ve been working on explosive stuff so my vertical has been improving too. I don’t really know what it is in terms of timing. I guess it’s just something I’ve picked up. I enjoy doing it.”

Thomas’ rise to one of the GPAC’s top players seemed unlikely during a senior prep year that saw him miss the second half of the season because of injury. Even with his combination of size and athleticism, Thomas’ basketball career appeared as though it may be over.

But that wasn’t quite the ending the three-year high school varsity letter winner and all-conference player had in mind.

“I remember my senior year in high school I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play college basketball,” Thomas said. “I ended up breaking my arm halfway through the year and didn’t get to finish my senior year. That gave me a hunger to keep playing. I didn’t want to end it on that note.”

That hunger has Thomas blossoming in 2014-15. He’s averaging career highs across the board and ranks among the top 15 among GPAC players in blocked shots, double-doubles, rebounding, 3-point field goal percentage, field goal percentage, scoring and 3-point field goals per game. Thomas is on track to be the first Bulldog to lead the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks since Sam Huebner in 2010-11.

With 98 career blocks, Thomas ranks fifth all-time in program history and is on a fast track to break Glen Snodgrass’ Concordia record of 188, amassed from 1995-98.

Limback’s most well-rounded player basically fell into the program’s lap prior to his arrival in the fall of 2012. The pastor of Thomas’ hometown church had played soccer at Concordia and encouraged Thomas to take a look.

“I came for a visit and tried out,” Thomas recalls. “I liked the school and had a spot on the basketball team. It just worked out well.”

The theology major got his feet wet as a freshman, playing an average of 15.4 minutes over 23 games. His role increased considerably last year as a sophomore, leading into a junior campaign in which Thomas is one of the team’s focal points. Even faced with three different head coaches and a combined 14 wins over his first two seasons, Thomas just kept getting better, while preparing himself to become a leader and a stat-sheet stuffer.

“My freshman and sophomore year we had a lot of people leave so it was pretty obvious in the offseason that I was going to have to step up,” Thomas said. “I worked on my game a lot this past summer with meetings and individual stuff, trying to help me be mentally prepared and to be a better leader to step up in big situations. It’s been nice being able to step up and have a bigger role.”

Last season’s overwhelmingly young and inexperienced bunch has morphed into a team capable of hanging with the GPAC’s top dogs. Thomas led the way with 14 points in Concordia’s 77-74 road win over Hastings on Nov. 25. It was the type of victory that eluded Thomas and company the previous two seasons.

It’s become evident that Thomas is becoming more comfortable in his own skin. He’s so comfortable that he’s not afraid to go shirtless, smear pink paint on his chest and wear a tutu in leading the student section at home volleyball matches. Thomas is all about raising not just his own level, but the level of those around him.

“Joel (Haywood) and I were talking about how much more fun CIT is because of the crowd’s energy and how that raises the level of play,” Thomas said. “After one of the volleyball games when it was a white-out theme we were a lot more into the game than we had been before. We’d like to think that it was because of us that the team played really well. We wanted to do it again and it just spiraled out of control from there.”

The same goes for Thomas’ improving game on the court. He’s leading the charge for a Bulldog program aiming to get back to making regular trips to the national tournament. Thomas can do it all, but he knows that an improving roster means he won’t have to.

“Going forward it’s exciting because we know we’re close to being there,” Thomas said.

Hot shooting Dordt sinks Bulldogs

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – A big second-half run put host Dordt in control and helped boost the Defenders to a 100-79 win over the Concordia University men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon. Despite shooting 51.9 percent, the Bulldogs fell on the road for the first time in conference action.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad dropped to 5-6 overall and 2-4 in GPAC play.

Dordt (9-4, 2-3 GPAC) used a two-man wrecking crew of Nathan Rindels and Tyler Wolterstorff to hand Concordia its second-straight defeat. Rindels went off for a career high 30 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field. Wolterstorff followed closely behind with 28 points. They powered a Dordt offense that shot a blistering 57.1 percent from the field.

“We didn’t have an answer for them,” Limback said. “They really took it to us. We didn’t execute defensively and didn’t move our feet well enough. There were times we bailed them out with fouls. We just couldn’t stop those two guys.”

The Bulldogs led by as many as five points after a Robby Thomas bucket in the lane at the 7:40 mark of the first half. Then the Defenders turned the game around with a late first-half spurt and led 41-38 at halftime. Dordt pulled away after the break, turning a modest 62-56 lead midway through the second half into a 77-59 advantage by way of a 15-3 run. The combo of Rindels and Wolterstorff scored all but four puts during the spurt that essentially put the game to rest.

“I liked the way we competed for most of the game,” Limback said. “We just came unraveled for about a five-minute stretch where it got away from us. We had some costly turnovers and missed free throws and it went from a six or seven-point deficit to 14-15 real quick. They were too good offensively for us to come back from that.”

Making his first start of the season, sophomore Eli Ziegler sparked the Bulldogs in the opening 20 minutes with his marksmanship from the outside. The sharpshooter made 3 of 4 attempts from long range in the first half, but missed his only 3-point attempt of the second half.

Foul troubles were also a factor for Concordia. Folkerts picked up his fourth foul with 11:30 left and Micah Kohlwey fouled out with 8:34 showing on the clock. Less than five minutes later, Haywood joined Kohlwey on the bench with five fouls.

Robby Thomas led the Bulldogs with 16 points. He also added a pair of rejections to push his career block total to 100. Joining Thomas in double figures in scoring were Haywood (15 points) and Folkerts (14 points and seven rebounds).

The Defenders, now 4-1 at home this season, drained 32 of 56 attempts from the field and shot 75.7 percent (28-for-37) from the free throw line. Four individuals recorded double figure scoring totals for a Dordt team that has reached the 100-point mark three times this season and entered the afternoon ranked 16th nationally in scoring (87.2).

Concordia had hoped to win at Dordt for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

The Bulldogs return to action on Wednesday (Dec. 10) when they head east to take on Nebraska Wesleyan (2-5, 0-3 GPAC) in Lincoln at 8 p.m. The Prairie Wolves have won each of the last three meetings with Concordia.

Second-half splurge keys third GPAC road win

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team quickly turned a 59-59 second-half tie into a double-digit lead as the Bulldogs pulled away for a 96-78 road win over Nebraska Wesleyan on Wednesday night. Concordia piled up 60 second-half points and shot 64.5 percent over the final 20 minutes to win for the third time in four conference road contests.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad improved to 6-6 overall and 3-4 in conference action.

“We knew we were going up against a different style,” Limback said of the Prairie Wolves’ frenetic pace. “They have been hanging with a lot of teams. We preached staying poised and emphasized rebounding. I thought we did a great job in the second half. Once we started rebounding better we were able to get out and run.”

And run away is what the Bulldogs did. Over the final 9:20 of game time, Concordia outscored Nebraska Wesleyan 37-19. During this stretch, junior guard Micah Kohlwey got wicked hot, pouring in 13 points in a span of 3:31. His trey with 5:40 left lifted Concordia to its first double-digit lead of the night at 79-68.

The Prairie Wolves (2-6, 0-4 GPAC) never got any closer in a game controlled inside by sophomore Chandler Folkerts, who posted his GPAC-leading fourth double-double of the campaign (22 points and 10 rebounds). He also added a pair of blocks as part of a defensive effort that limited Nebraska Wesleyan to nearly 20 points below its season average.

The Prairie Wolves, who play an unusually fast paced-style under first-year head coach Dale Wellman, attempted only 27 treys on Wednesday – 16 fewer than their season average.

“This was definitely Bulldog basketball,” Limback said. “The style and the flow was more our pace. Not that we’re used to scoring 96, but we were able to control the tempo defensively.”

The 96 points were a season high and the most for a Concordia men’s basketball team since the 97-88 win over York College on Nov. 2, 2012. The Bulldogs nearly reached the century mark on Wednesday by shooting 55.2 percent (32-for-58) from the field and 78.8 percent (26-for-33) from the free throw line.

It didn’t hurt that Folkerts was nearly unstoppable in the paint. The Milford native went 8-for-10 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe as part of one of the better performances of his young career.

“He’s finishing very well,” Limback said. “I was very impressed with the way he rebounded above the rim. He’s coming into his own. I thought all our bigs were very efficient.”

Freshman guard Kevin White drew praise from Limback for his work in transition. White joined Folkerts and Kohlwey (16) as double-figure scorers for Concordia. White put up 11 of his 13 points in the first half. Senior Joel Haywood added nine points and four rebounds and junior Robby Thomas chipped in nine points and six boards.

The Bulldogs conclude the week on Saturday when they host Mount Marty (1-11, 0-7 GPAC) at 4 p.m. in their final home contest prior to the Christmas break. Concordia will look to sweep the season series from the Lancers, whom the Bulldogs defeated, 88-70, on Nov. 12. Fans are encouraged to wear ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters as part of Saturday’s holiday-themed game.

Men’s basketball welcomes Mount Marty on Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – Coming off its biggest offensive outburst of the season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team returns to the hardwood inside Walz Arena on Saturday when it hosts Mount Marty (1-11, 0-7 GPAC) at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs are looking for a regular-season sweep of the visiting Lancers, whom they defeated, 88-70, in Yankton, S.D., on Nov. 12.

Fans are encouraged to dress accordingly for the Christmas-themed afternoon that includes a women’s basketball game that tips off at 2 p.m. A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

Double trouble
Chandler Folkerts came through with one of his best statistical games of his career in Wednesday’s 96-78 win at Nebraska Wesleyan, posting 22 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Folkerts’ fourth double-double of the season evened him with teammate Robby Thomas for the most double-doubles among all GPAC players. Also among conference performers, Thomas and Folkerts rank 14th and 17th, respectively, in scoring and third and fourth, respectively, in rebounding. Thomas averages 14.4 points and 8.0 rebounds and Folkerts averages 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Thomas reaches career milestone
Thomas, a 6-foot-7 junior from Shawnee, Kan., reached an impressive milestone last week. His two blocked shots in the Dec. 6 loss at Dordt brought his career block total to 100. Thomas now ranks sixth all-time in program history in career blocks (see list below). Thomas, who has 35 blocks over the first 12 games, also has a shot to break Snodgrass’ record of 59 blocks in a single season (1997-98).

Career block leaders
188 – Glen Snodgrass (1995-98)
173 – Scott Ernstmeyer (1993-96)
109 – Marcus Wernke (2003-05)
106 – Matt Hoffart (1991-94)
106 – Sam Huebner (2008-11)
100 – Robby Thomas – (2012--)

Concordia stays hot on road
Head coach Ben Limback’s squad improved to 3-1 in conference road games by winning at Nebraska Wesleyan on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are 4-2 overall away from home, with additional road wins coming over Hastings (77-74), Kansas Wesleyan University (85-72) and Mount Marty (88-70). In those four road victories, Concordia has averaged 86.5 points per game. Wednesday’s 96-point outburst represents a season high. The Bulldogs shot 55.2 percent in dispatching of the Prairie Wolves.

Haywood collects 300th rebound
Senior Joel Haywood hauled in four rebounds in Wednesday’s victory to push his career total to 301. A steady all-around performer, the Lakewood, Colo., native has totaled 873 points, 301 rebounds, 255 assists, 92 steals and 101 3-point field goals over 90 career games as a Bulldog. This season Haywood sports career high averages of 12.5 points and 1.7 assists and career best shooting percentages of 51.9 percent from the field and 90.6 percent from the free throw line.

On the rise
Seeking the program’s first winning record since the 2010-11 season, the Bulldogs are well ahead of the pace put forth by the previous three Concordia squads. This year’s three GPAC wins equals Concordia’s total from last season and already surpasses its conference win number for the 2012-13 campaign. In addition, last season it took the Bulldogs until Jan. 24 to record their sixth overall win. They got win No. 7 on Jan. 25 and their eighth and final victory on Feb. 15.

Mount Marty seeks first GPAC win
Mount Marty has struggled to a 1-11 overall mark and 0-7 GPAC record under first-year head coach Andrew Baker. A bright spot has been the play of senior guard Bud Smith, who averages 17.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. He put up 30 points in the first meeting with Concordia on Nov. 12. As a team, the Lancers rank 11th in the GPAC in scoring offense (68.0) and 10th in scoring defense (86.2). Mount Marty’s lone victory was a 103-76 decision over Oglala Lakota on Nov. 18.

Free throw advantage carries Concordia to season sweep of Mount Marty

SEWARD, Neb. – One the nation’s top free throw shooting teams coming into play, the Concordia University men’s basketball team used a decided advantage at the charity stripe to pull away from Mount Marty for a 78-60 victory inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. The win completed a regular-season sweep of the Lancers, whom the Bulldogs defeated 88-70 in Yankton, S.D., on Nov. 12.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad finished off a 2-0 week and now sits at 7-6 overall and 4-4 in GPAC contests.

“We were very stagnant (in the first half). Second half was much better,” Limback said. “Robby (Thomas) finally started to get going. When he starts shooting well and attacking the paint it opens a lot of things up.”

After shooting 35.7 percent in the first half, the Bulldogs blistered the nets with 53.8 percent shooting in the second half. Most glaringly, Concordia went 24-for-31 (.774) from the free throw line compared to 7-for-9 free throw shooting by the Lancers (1-12, 0-8 GPAC). Senior Joel Haywood and sophomore Chandler Folkerts went a combined 11-for-12 from the charity stripe.

Those points from the line were critical during an opening 20 minutes that saw the Bulldogs go just 1 of 7 from behind the arc. That cold shooting helped Mount Marty get within 35-31 at the 18:50 mark of the second half. That’s when the Bulldogs kicked it into gear and went on a game-defining 24-6 spurt that the Lancers never recovered from.

Included in that stretch were a pair of treys from Thomas and one from sophomore Aaron Walker, who chipped in nine points and plenty of energy in 13 minutes of action. The Bulldogs went 5-for-11 from deep in the second half to put away Mount Marty. Sophomore Eli Ziegler sniped two of his three triples after halftime.

“As a shooter I just try to come into the game and work hard without the ball and shoot it when I’m open,” Ziegler said. “My teammates got me the ball and I made some shots today.”

Star Lancer guard Bud Smith managed only nine points (eight below his season average) while dealing with foul trouble. Smith had burned the Bulldogs for 30 points the first time the two squads met.

“Micah (Kohlwey) did a good job on him and some other guys had a shot at him,” Limback said. “We tried to limit his touches and make other guys score. Give them credit. In the first half some guys did hit some shots. He’s a great player and we just tried to make sure he didn’t beat us tonight.”

Thomas topped the Bulldogs with 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Folkerts posted 13 points and two steals and Ziegler, who made his third-straight start, added 11 points and four rebounds.

A total of 13 players saw action for Limback’s squad. Eleven Bulldogs registered in the scoring column, including 6-foot-9 Max Wegener, who continues to come along after missing the first seven games due to injury. He contributed eight points and four rebounds on Saturday.

Mount Marty, still winless in conference play, was led by the 11 points off the bench from Jackson Seitzinger. Alex Irvine totaled 10 points.

The Bulldogs are shooting 76.1 percent from the free throw line on the season. That figure ranks 11th best nationally among all NAIA Division II teams.

The Bulldogs now have five days without a game prior to returning to action on Friday, Dec. 19 when they play at Dakota Wesleyan (12-1, 5-1 GPAC). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from Mitchell, S.D. The Tigers have won each of the last four meetings with Concordia.

No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan buries Bulldogs with perimeter shooting

MITCHELL, S.D. – Faced with perhaps its most difficult test to date, the Concordia University men’s basketball team gave fourth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan an early scare before the Tigers responded and earned a 91-78 win in Mitchell, S.D., on Friday evening. Host Dakota Wesleyan remained unbeaten when playing inside The Corn Palace (8-0).

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s bunch dropped back to .500 overall (7-7). The Bulldogs now sit at 4-5 in conference action.

Behind torrid early 3-point shooting, the Bulldogs built a 14-6 lead when Eli Ziegler’s trey feathered through the net at the 14:38 mark of the first half. First-place Dakota Wesleyan (13-1, 6-1 GPAC) awoke and went on a 26-5 spurt that gave it a lead it never relinquished.

The Tigers, who entered the night ranked second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.441), turned the tables with some hot outside shooting of their own. The combo of Trae Bergh (22 points) and Joey Mitchell (18 points) burned Concordia with a combined 11-for-17 night from distance. As a team, the Bulldogs equaled them by making 11 of 17 shots from beyond the arc, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Dakota Wesleyan’s 55.4 percentage from the field.

“One of the keys was to limit their threes. To beat a team like that at their place you can’t give up 15 threes,” Limback said. “They just shot the lights out. I thought a lot of their threes were contested and we made them work for them. Very few teams are going to beat them here when they shoot like that.”

The Bulldogs attempted to counter with solid offensive nights by standouts Robby Thomas (20 points, 4-for-6 from three) and Chandler Folkerts (13 points, 5-for-6 from the field). The duo kept Concordia from getting blown out of the water even in the face of the Tiger onslaught from the perimeter. Thomas made two early threes to help build Concordia’s eight-point first-half advantage.

After trailing by 16 at the half, the Bulldogs got as close as 12 points (59-47) after back-to-back Thomas free throws made it a 9-3 Concordia run with 13:27 left. But as so often happened on Friday, Bergh simply answered on the other end with another long jumper.

“I liked the way we came in and approached the game,” Limback said. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect but we came out and were aggressive. Then there was a moment in the second half where they could have made it a 30-40 point game. I liked the way we fought and didn’t quit. There’s a reason Dakota Wesleyan is No. 4. We’re not there yet.”

Thomas led a quartet of double-figure scorers for Concordia. Micah Kohlwey poured in 16 points (3-for-4 from 3-point range) and Eli Ziegler added 11 points. Ziegler has gone 6-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line over the past two games.

GPAC leading scorer Jalen Voss paced all players with 25 points. Voss made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc while also blocking a pair of shots in 21 minutes of action.

The Bulldogs resume action in 10 days when they begin a two-game swing in West Palm Beach, Fla., where they will play host and third-ranked Northwood University (7-0) on Dec. 29 and Concordia University-Canada (1-3) on Dec. 30. Concordia will depart from Seward on Dec. 26 as it embarks on its journey to The Sunshine State.

Thomas and company stun No. 3 Northwood in south Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A decided underdog on the road at third-ranked Northwood University, the Concordia University men’s basketball team pulled off its biggest win in several years. The Bulldogs used a masterful performance on both ends of the floor and a big night from junior Robby Thomas to shellshock the defending Sun Conference champion Seahawks, 86-70, in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which had gone nine-straight days without a game, moved to 8-7 overall and 5-3 in road contests in claiming the signature win – and second over a ranked opponent since Limback’s arrival at Concordia.

“It means a lot,” Limback said. “We’ve shown moments of greatness in other games, but tonight we were consistently the aggressor. This should improve our confidence level against any team we play. Now we don’t want to just settle. We want to continue to build on it.”

Already a rising star, Thomas headlined the program’s biggest victory in several years, going for a career high 27 points and seven rejections while leading an offensive outburst that attacked with relentlessness and had Northwood (7-2) on its heals all night. The Bulldogs nailed their first four attempts from beyond the arc, went on a 19-3 late first half run and built a lead as large as 21 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Thomas, ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game, emerged any time the Seahawks hinted at a threat.

“Great players do great things in big games. He definitely did that tonight,” Limback said of Thomas. “He stepped up. He hit a flurry of threes and attacked the basket. He did it on both ends. He blocked shots, he got deflections and he hit the big shots. He made upperclassmen plays.”

While Thomas shined most brightly, it took contributions up and down the lineup to dominate one of the nation’s top-five teams in the opposition’s own building. Often facing full-court looks from the Seahawks, Concordia took advantage by pushing the ball up the floor and getting clean looks that led to torrid shooting percentages of 61.2 (30-for-49) from the field and 52.6 (10-for-19) from the 3-point arc.

Senior guard Joel Haywood was the pillar of efficiency, making 4 of 5 shots from distance and all five attempts from the free throw line on the way to 19 points. He teamed with Thomas for a one-two punch that proved too formidable for a potent Seahawk group.

On the other end, Limback employed a zone defense that Northwood struggled to solve. Seahawk standout guard Chris Solomon, who came in averaging 19.6 points, went just 3-for-14 from the field while posting eight points. Northwood was held to 2-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc, where it shot at a .433 clip entering the night.

“Our guys did a great job of communicating and being in the right spots,” Limback said. “I thought our zone was very active. We disrupted them and did a good job on their shooters.”

It was tough sledding for the Seahawks, faced with the length of Thomas and Chandler Folkerts, who combined for 10 blocked shots. Folkerts and junior Micah Kohlwey added 11 points apiece. Justin Damme came off the bench to chip in six points and five rebounds.

As a team, Concordia piled up 12 blocks, one off a season high 13 versus Grace University, to record its first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan, 85-76, on Nov. 9, 2013.

Behind Fred Mattison (team high 22 points), Northwood attempted a late comeback and got as close as 11 points, but Thomas delivered a crushing blow to the Seahawks by drilling a cold-blooded trey with 2:28 left, making it 78-62 in Concordia’s favor.

Northwood head coach Rollie Massimino, well known for leading Villanova to the 1985 NCAA Division I national title, did not coach on Monday. Assistant Ken Gabelman filled in for Massimino.

The Bulldogs complete their stay at the Dick Versace Holiday Classic on Tuesday when they take on Concordia University-Canada. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. local time in West Palm Beach (4 p.m. CST). The Stingers, located in Montreal, entered the holiday event with an overall record of 1-3.

Bulldogs rally to complete 2-0 Florida swing

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Less than 24 hours after poaching a thrilling upset win at No. 3 Northwood University, the Concordia University men’s basketball team found itself trailing by 10 points in the second half in a matchup with Concordia University of Canada on Tuesday. The Bulldogs showed their continued growth and poise by rallying for a 78-71 victory over the Stingers in a neutral site contest held on Northwood’s campus in West Palm Beach, Fla.

By completing a 2-0 swing in The Sunshine State, second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad jumped to 9-7 overall, surpassing last season’s win total of eight.

“Today was a different story from last night,” Limback said. “Today was a slugfest against a very physical team. We struggled in the first half defensively and didn’t close out well on their shooters. They were able to shoot in rhythm and really grew their confidence.

“I give our guys credit. We played much better defensively in the second half and Chandler (Folkerts) was the biggest difference. He took over.”

Trailing 48-38 early in the second half, the Bulldogs went on a 15-4 run in which five different players scored. The spurt, bookended by treys from freshman Kevin White and sophomore Eli Ziegler, gave Limback’s group a one-point lead.

The Stingers, located in Montreal, led as late as the 6:55 mark before Bulldog sophomore post man Folkerts muscled in two points in the paint as part of his big evening. The native of Milford, Neb., notched six crucial points during the run that put the Bulldogs on top for good. Folkerts, who posted his sixth double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds), gave the Stingers trouble in the paint throughout the contest and finished 9-for-14 from the field.

That kind of effort was much needed with the way the Stingers stung the net from long range. Concordia Canada built its lead by making 7 of 15 first half shots from downtown and concluded the contest at 14-for-33 (.424) from long range. Gabe Riche went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and leading scorer Mukiya Post (18 points) netted two treys.

The Stingers held a lead for nearly all of the first 30 minutes of action, appearing as though they may take advantage of a sluggish first half for a Bulldog team fresh off the program’s biggest win in several years. Limback learned that his team was too tough to fall victim to the emotional high of the previous night.

“We wanted last night to carry over to today,” Limback said. “It was such an emotional game for us. That was part of the slow start. But I also think Concordia Canada is a real good team even if their record doesn’t indicate it. I liked our toughness. We did a lot of good things defensively.”

Star junior wing Robby Thomas managed only eight points following his career high 27-point performance to fuel Monday’s win over Northwood. Folkerts, Ziegler (11 points), junior Micah Kohlwey (10 points) and senior Joel Haywood (nine points, eight rebounds) helped pick up the slack, showing off Concordia’s multi-dimensional attack.

“Other guys are stepping up beyond Robby and Chandler,” Limback said. “That’s what we have to have to beat good teams.”

The Bulldogs again held a big edge at the free throw line, draining 20 of 24 (.833) shots from the charity stripe. The Stingers made 7 of 11 free throw attempts. From the field, Limback’s group shot 49.1 percent compared to 39.7 percent for the Stingers.

The Bulldogs will fly back home in preparation for Saturday’s conference tilt with Dordt (12-4, 4-3 GPAC) at 3 p.m. inside Walz Arena. Concordia will attempt to snap a nine-game series losing streak against the Defenders, who won this season’s first meeting, 100-79, in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Dec. 6.

Men’s basketball carries momentum into Saturday home GPAC battle

SEWARD, Neb. – Fresh off an impressive showing at the Dick Versace Holiday Classic in West Palm Beach, Fla., the Concordia University men’s basketball team returns to conference action on Saturday when it welcomes Dordt (12-4, 4-3 GPAC) to Walz Arena. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. The Defenders won this season’s first matchup and have defeated the Bulldogs in each of the last nine meetings. Concordia enters the game with two-straight wins and with four victories in its last five outings, including the 86-70 win at No. 3 Northwood University on Monday.

A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

Most significant win since …
Monday’s domination of third-ranked Northwood University, defending Sun Conference champion, marks the most significant win since head coach Ben Limback took over at the helm of the program last season. It was the second time the Bulldogs upset a top 15 team in as many years. Led by Adam Vogt, Concordia knocked off No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan, 85-76, on Nov. 9, 2013.

The latest victory over a ranked opponent was made possible by a huge performance from Robby Thomas, who tallied a career high 27 points and rejected seven Seahawk shots. Concordia shot 61.2 percent (30-for-49) from the field and 52.6 percent (10-for-19) from 3-point range to overcome its 23 turnovers. In addition, the Bulldogs held standout guard Chris Solomon to eight points on 3-for-14 shooting.

Thomas closes in on school blocked shots record
Rising star Robby Thomas, who is averaging career bests in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounds (7.2 rpg), blocks (2.94) and steals (1.1), blocked a total of 10 shots on his way to earning all-tournament honors at the Dick Versace Holiday Classic. With 47 blocks on the campaign, Thomas is on track to break Glen Snodgrass’ (1995-98) program single-season record of 59 blocks during the 1997-98 season. Thomas, who ranks third nationally in blocks per game, has 112 career denials compared to Snodgrass’ program career record of 188.

On the upswing
At 9-7 overall, Concordia has already surpassed its win totals from each of the previous two seasons in its bid for the program’s first winning record since the 2010-11 team went 16-13. The win at Northwood bumped the Bulldogs’ road mark to 5-3, equaling their combined number of road victories from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Among GPAC teams, only No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan (6-1) and No. 8 Midland (6-1) have captured more road wins this season. Concordia, currently in sixth place in the league standings, is aiming to earn a berth in the GPAC tournament for the first time since 2012.

Haywood within 100 points of 1,000 for career
Senior Joel Haywood, the 2011-12 GPAC co-freshman of the year, moved over 900 career points by netting 19 and nine points, respectively, in this week’s weeks in south Florida. The native of Lakewood, Colo., now with 907 career points, is looking to become the 26th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club. Concordia’s all-time leading scorer is Jon Ziegler, who piled up 2,099 points during his four-year career from 2004-07. Ziegler is one of two Bulldogs to reach 2,000 points.

Folkerts takes over rebound lead
Sophomore post Chandler Folkerts edged in front of Thomas for the team rebounding lead by hauling in 16 boards over the two wins in The Sunshine State. Folkerts helped fuel the comeback victory over Concordia University Canada by racking up 19 points and 11 rebounds for his GPAC-leading fifth double-double of the season. Folkerts (7.3 rpg) and Thomas (7.2 rpg) rank third and fourth, respectively, among GPAC players in rebounding. They are also the conference’s top two shot blockers in terms of total blocks.

Shooting stars
Concordia’s 10-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc in the win over No. 3 Northwood marked the fifth time this season that it has made at least 10 3-point field goals in a game. The Bulldogs are 4-1 in those contests. Ranked 34th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.382), Concordia possesses three players shooting better than 40 percent from distance: Eli Ziegler (.450), Robby Thomas (.448) and Joel Haywood (.417).

Hot Dordt invades Walz Arena
A national tournament qualifier three years running, sixth-year head coach Ross Douma’s squad enters the weekend with plenty of momentum of its own. The Defenders have won four in a row and seven of their last eight contests, including an 84-83 upset of fourth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 10. Behind star junior guard Nathan Rindels, Dordt is one of the nation’s top offensive teams – 11th nationally in field goal percentage (.503) and 12th in scoring (87.4) – and a beast on the boards (sixth in NAIA Division II with a 10.6 rebound margin). One possible advantage for Concordia is that Dordt comes into Saturday following a stretch of 15-straight days since its last time out – an 86-51 win over Martin Luther College. The Bulldogs must do a better job of containing the combo of Rindels and Tyler Wolterstorff, who combined for 58 points in Dordt’s win 100-79 win over Concordia on Dec. 6.

Folkerts, Knight power third-straight win

SEWARD, Neb. – No Robby Thomas. No problem for a Concordia University men’s basketball group teeming with confidence. Fueled by Chandler Folkerts inside and Rudy Knight in the backcourt, the Bulldogs snapped a nine-game series losing streak against Dordt (12-5, 4-4 GPAC) by toppling the Defenders, 87-83, on Saturday afternoon.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, winners of three straight, improved to 10-7 overall and 5-5 in conference action.

“We came out with a gutsy performance,” Limback said. “A lot of guys stepped up tonight. With Robby out, we got a lot of different contributions from a lot of guys. It was a well-fought victory over a great team.”

Fresh off his fifth double-double of the season, Folkerts came through with another monster effort, going for 25 points (10-for-15 from the field) and nine rebounds. During a late 13-2 run that gave Concordia the lead for good, Folkerts electrified the crowd with a three-point play followed by a driving layup by Knight that made it 72-61 with 7:51 to play.

But Dordt did not go quietly. Four different Defenders scored during a 9-1 run pulled them within 81-80 with 1:23 left in the game. Knight then stepped up with a cold-blooded triple as part of his career high 17-point performance and the Bulldogs made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal up an entertaining win.

“We had a lot of confidence coming in with two-straight wins and beating the No. 3 team in the nation,” Knight said. “We just came out and were aggressive.”

While Folkerts and Knight grab the headline, the biggest key may have been Concordia’s improved defensive effort. In the first meeting with Dordt, the Defenders piled up 100 points, shot 57.1 percent from the field and got a combined 58 points from the talented combo of Nathan Rindels and Tyler Wolterstorff. This time out Dordt shot only 41.9 percent, compared to 62.0 percent for Concordia, and Rindels battled foul trouble and was limited to nine points.

On this night, Folkerts and Knight served as the dynamic duo.

“I thought Chandler was outstanding throughout the game, especially in the first half,” said Limback, who also commended Knight for his crucial second half buckets. “I really like where our mindset’s at.”

Concordia, which defeated both No. 3 Northwood University and Concordia University Canada earlier this week, trailed by as many as nine points after a 13-4 run gave Dordt a 20-11 first half advantage. Senior Joel Haywood answered with a trey and the Bulldogs whittled the deficit down to 42-38 by halftime.

Concordia sizzled after the break, shooting 65.4 percent from the field while holding Dordt to 38.9 percent and to just 1-for-13 shooting from the 3-point arc. The Defenders entered the afternoon ranked 11th nationally in field goal percentage (.503) and 12th in scoring (87.4).

Haywood (12 points and eight rebounds) and Eli Ziegler (10 points, 2-for-4 on 3-point attempts) joined Folkerts and Knight as double-figure scorers for the Bulldogs, who have won five of their last six games. Knight chipped in three assists in his 23 minutes of action.

Head coach Ross Douma’s squad was paced by the 15 points of Wolterstorff, who led a group of five Defenders with 10 points or more. Rindels was credited with nine assists.

Thomas, averaging 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.94 blocks, missed his first game of the season. He sat out on Saturday due to injury. He is expected back in the lineup soon. Sophomore Justin Damme got the start in place of Thomas.

The Bulldogs remain at home on Wednesday when they welcome eighth-ranked Midland (13-2, 6-1 GPAC), last year’s NAIA Division II runner up, to Walz Arena for an 8 p.m. tipoff. Concordia will attempt to snap a seven-game series losing streak against the Warriors, whose only conference defeat came by a 90-74 score at No. 15 Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 6.

Folkerts garners GPAC and national player of the week honors

GPAC release - NAIA Release

SEWARD, Neb. – After leading the Concordia University men’s basketball team to a 3-0 record last week, sophomore Chandler Folkerts has been named the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Player of the Week and the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Player of the Week, as announced on Tuesday. Folkerts is the first Bulldog men’s basketball player to garner the GPAC weekly award since Porter Birtell received the same honor on Jan. 9, 2012.

Folkerts has served as a major reason for Concordia’s current three-game winning streak. During the stretch that included victories over No. 3 Northwood University (Fla.), Concordia University Canada and Dordt, Folkerts averaged 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.33 blocks while going 24-for-38 (.632) from the field. The native of Milford, Neb., recorded a career high 25 points versus Dordt on Jan. 3.

A rising star, Folkerts sports averages of 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.41 blocks over the season’s first 17 games. A GPAC honorable mention all-conference selection last season, Folkerts posted 19 points and 11 rebounds to extend his conference-leading double-double total to five. Among GPAC players, he also ranks second in field goal percentage (.577), third in rebounding (7.4), fourth in blocks (1.41) and ninth in free throw percentage (.808).

A Bulldog men's basketball player had not earned national player of the week honors since February 2007 when Jon Ziegler received the award. The announcement came on the heels of Ziegler's school record 47-point performance in a win over Sioux Falls, then a member of the GPAC.

Folkerts and the Bulldogs (10-7, 5-5 GPAC) will attempt to extend their winning streak when they host No. 8 Midland (13-3, 6-1 GPAC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 7). Concordia also welcomes Northwestern (10-5, 3-4 GPAC) to Walz Arena on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

No. 8 Midland snaps Bulldog win streak despite 26 points from Folkerts

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team entered Wednesday night’s contest brimming with confidence following three-straight wins, including one over third-ranked Northwood University. However, Alex Starkel and eighth-ranked Midland put a halt to the win streak by recording an 86-76 victory inside Walz Arena.

Now 4-5 at home, second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 10-8 overall and 5-6 in conference play (sixth place). In its latest loss, Concordia struggled to dig out of a first-half hole produced by a 15-0 Midland run.

“I’m pleased with how we competed after that run, but very disappointed in that run,” Limback said. “We’ve been talking about maintaining an aggressiveness and confidence level. I thought they turned the pressure up and we didn’t match the intensity that needed to be there. Give them credit. They really attacked us.”

NAIA Division II National Player of the Week Chandler Folkerts picked up where he left last week. He again was near unstoppable when catching the ball in the post. The Milford native piled up a career high 26 points (9-for-12 shooting) to go along with eight rebounds. Unfortunately, Folkerts sat on the bench for key stretches of the second half due to foul trouble.

Although they trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half, the Bulldogs fought tooth and nail to the end. Concordia got back within six late in the second half and then trailed just 77-70 with 2:01 left after Robby Thomas knocked in a corner triple. Jalen Hueser followed with four-straight free throws for Midland (14-3, 7-1 GPAC) and the Bulldogs never got closer than 10 points.

Midland 6-foot-7 sophomore Alex Starkel did his best to ensure the end of Concordia’s win streak. Starkel poured in 17 of his team high 22 points in the second half to thwart the Bulldogs’ attempt at a comeback victory. Starkel worked the inside while the likes of Galen Gullie (13 points) and DJ Vaughn (13 points) hit clutch shots from the perimeter to help secure the Warriors’ 14th win.

Folkerts’ 26 points edged his previous career best point total of 25 put forth in Saturday’s 87-83 win over Dordt. The 6-foot-8 sophomore post has emerged as one of the league’s most potent inside scorers.

“When he was in there he was a difference for us. He kept us in the game,” Limback said. “He really did some nice things. We talked to our team about how other guys have to match that confidence level and intensity.”

Midland, last season’s NAIA Division II national runner up, shook off a 73-68 setback at Dakota State in its previous outing. The Warriors’ only conference loss came by a 90-74 score at No. 15 Dakota Wesleyan on Dec. 6.

Micah Kohlwey and Joel Haywood both had 10 points for the Bulldogs. Kohlwey threw in a circus shot on a fastbreak in serving as the highlight reel play of the night. Haywood had a nice all-around game that included eight rebounds and eight assists. Meanwhile, Thomas chipped in nine points in his return to the lineup after sitting out the win over Dordt.

The Bulldogs remain at home for the third-straight game when they host Northwestern (10-6, 3-5 GPAC) at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The two sides split last season’s pair of meetings with the home team coming out on top in both contests. In Feb. 15 matchup in Seward, Chandler Folkerts produced 19 points and six rebounds to lead a 95-75 Concordia win.

Men’s basketball plays host to Northwestern on Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – After having its three-game winning streak snapped by No. 8 Midland on Wednesday, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will aim to get back into the winning column when it hosts Northwestern (10-6, 3-5 GPAC) on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. from Walz Arena. In last season’s meeting in Seward, the Bulldogs toppled the Red Raiders, 95-75, marking the largest victory margin over Northwestern in program history.

A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

National player of the week resides in Seward
On Tuesday sophomore post Chandler Folkerts was named the GPAC and NAIA Division II national player of the week after averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over a trio of wins, including one over No. 3 Northwood University. It was the first time a Bulldog men’s basketball player had been named national player of the week since Jon Ziegler earned the award in February 2007 following a program single-game record 47-point performance. Folkerts picked up where he left off by netting a career high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to Midland.

The 6-foot-8 native of Milford, Neb., has built upon a solid freshman campaign. This season he’s averaging 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals while shooting 58.9 percent from the floor and 81.7 percent from the foul line.

Offensive outbreak
In a league chalk full of teams capable of filling up the net, head coach Ben Limback’s squad has shown the potential to keep up. Concordia’s scoring average of 78.1 points per game marks the highest figure for the program since the 2003-04 squad averaged 79.5 points and went 20-9 overall. In terms of national placement, the Bulldogs rank sixth in free throw percentage (.759), 27th in 3-point field goal percentage (.388), 33rd in field goal percentage (.474) and 47th in scoring. Individually, Joel Haywood ranks sixth among all NAIA Division II players in free throw percentage (.898) and Folkerts rates 16th nationally in field goal percentage (.589).

Team scoring averages since 2003-04
2014-15: 78.1
2013-14: 70.2
2012-13: 69.7
2011-12: 72.1
2010-11: 70.3
2009-10: 72.5
2008-09: 69.8
2007-08: 69.0
2006-07: 70.5
2005-06: 67.5
2004-05: 73.7
2003-04: 79.5 

On the rise
Concordia’s three-game spike last week showed the program’s rapid growth in just a short time under its second-year head coach. Last week’s thrilling run included victories over third-ranked Northwood as well as Dordt, the defending GPAC regular-season champion and national tournament qualifier each of the past three seasons. The Bulldogs have already surpassed their overall win total and conference win figure from last season. They continue to aim at the program’s first winning season since the 2010-11 team went 16-13 overall. The victory over Dordt snapped a nine-game skid in the series with the Defenders.

Thomas returns to lineup
Leading scorer Robby Thomas returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after sitting out the win over Dordt due to injury. In his return, Thomas posted a line of nine points, five rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot as the Bulldogs came up short against No. 8 Midland. On the other hand, sophomore Max Wegener missed his fourth-straight game and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Haywood enjoying career year
Guard Joel Haywood provides leadership as Concordia’s lone senior on this year’s roster. He also provides solid production across the board. He is averaging career highs in scoring (11.4), rebounds (3.7), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). He also sports career best shooting percentages from the field (.482) and from the free throw line (.898). At 929 career points, the 2011-12 co-GPAC freshman of the year needs 71 more points to become the 26th member of the program’s 1,000-point club.

Respected GPAC program invades Walz Arena
Fourteenth-year head coach Kris Korver has guided Northwestern to eight GPAC regular-season titles and to five trips to the national semifinals during his impressive tenure. This year’s Red Raider squad is 3-5 in conference action but has shown the ability to compete with the nation’s top teams. Northwestern topped second-ranked Cardinal Stritch University (91-83) and has suffered close losses to No. 8 Midland (103-99), No. 12 Morningside (84-82) and No. 24 Briar Cliff (105-101). Sharpshooting guard Colton Kooima leads Northwestern with a scoring average of 15.6 points per game. He shoots 45.6 percent from 3-point range.

Kooima’s trey lifts Northwestern over Concordia in OT shootout

SEWARD, Neb. – A high-scoring emotional rollercoaster unfolded in the waning moments of Saturday afternoon’s affair between the Concordia University men’s basketball team and visiting Northwestern. Ultimately, the Red Raiders’ arsenal featured a tad more firepower as Colton Kooima’s overtime 3-pointer lifted Northwestern to a 108-106 shootout victory inside Walz Arena.

Playing at home for the third-straight game, the Concordia University men’s basketball team dug itself a 14-3 hole out of the gates before recovering to make it a nip-and-tuck affair in the second half. Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad fell to 10-9 overall and 5-7 in conference play following a contest that featured two teams separated by only a half-game at tip off.

“What it came down to in the end was we really battled and executed at the end of regulation. We did a great job of putting ourselves in position to go to overtime,” Limback said. “Then they out-executed us in overtime. We had a couple errors down the stretch and they made the plays and hit a big shot at the end.”

The Bulldogs’ biggest lead of game came in overtime when Eli Ziegler’s pair of free throws pushed Concordia’s advantage to 106-101 with 1:37 left. A triple from Northwestern’s TJ Buyert and one free throw soon made it a one-point game. A critical Bulldog turnover on the next possession set the stage for Kooima’s game-winning bomb that left only three ticks on the clock.

Concordia simply couldn’t come up with enough stops against a Red Raider team that shot 50.6 percent for the game.

“We have to get better in transition defense. We have to get back,” Limback said. “I thought in the start of the game we let them get loose and it gave them confidence and a rhythm.

Down 90-86 in the final minute of regulation, Concordia surrendered what seemed like a back-breaking trey by Kooima. Improbably, the Bulldogs forced overtime thanks to Micah Kohlwey’s 3-pointer from deep on the left wing that tied the score at 96 with :2.1 left in regulation. The extra session was also made possible by a personal 5-0 Joel Haywood run over the last 30 seconds that set up the opportunity to tie with a three.

Haywood and reigning national player of the week Chandler Folkerts were again the stars of the show for Concordia. Folkerts equaled a career high 26 points to go along with seven rebounds and five blocks. Haywood posted an impressive line of 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

“Chandler’s in the zone,” Limback said. “As players we all want to be in the zone, and Chandler’s in the zone. He’s doing a lot of things for us. And Joel had an amazing game. He got the game ball tonight – near triple double for him. He logged 39-plus minutes in a game like that – tremendous effort.”

Kohlwey added 15 points and Rudy Knight came up with 10 points. Ziegler finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists.

Northwestern got 19 points from both Buyert and Nathan Wedel. Jordan Baker posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bulldogs are off until next Saturday (Jan. 17) when they head northeast to play at No. 18 Briar Cliff (16-4, 8-2 GPAC). Concordia is 6-3 away from home after having gone 2-0 on its recent Florida trip. In the first meeting with the Chargers, the visitors escaped with a 70-66 win inside Walz Arena on Nov. 18.

Bulldogs unable to slow No. 16 Briar Cliff

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A surging Briar Cliff squad scorched from the opening tipoff as the 16th-ranked Chargers sent the Concordia University men’s basketball team to its third-consecutive defeat. The 89-69 victory in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night gave Briar Cliff (17-4, 9-2 GPAC) its 11th win over its past 12 outings.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 10-10 overall and 5-8 in league play. The Bulldogs remain above .500 away from home at 6-4.

“The tougher team won,” Limback said. “They came out swinging and we didn’t answer the bell. I felt like this was one of the first times all season we didn’t come out prepared for a battle.”

While Concordia shot 47.2 percent and got junior Robby Thomas (missed the Jan. 10 overtime loss to Northwestern) back in the lineup. It just wasn’t enough to overcome Briar Cliff’s big offensive night and the performance of sophomore guard Shane Graves. The contest’s leading scorer with 20 points, Graves scored in transition midway through the first half to push the Chargers out to a 31-14 lead that the Bulldogs never dug out of.

The combo of Thomas and Chandler Folkerts tried to carry Concordia. At one point the duo had 30 of the team’s 39 points. Thomas recorded 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in his return to the lineup. Folkerts came up with 18 points (8-for-13 from the field) and seven rebounds.

Limback says the team needed more production out of its backcourt, which was too prone to turnovers against a Charger team adept at taking the ball away.

“It was nice to see Robby score early on after being out last week,” Limback said. “Now we need others to inspire others to be great. We had to bring our ‘A’ game tonight and have them miss some shots – and that certainly did not happen.”

Head coach Nic Nelson’s squad, which has continued to rise up the national rankings after being unranked in the preseason, used a balanced attack that featured five different double-figure scorers. Junior forward Austin Homan made all five of his shots for 12 points and guard Zach Otting went 4-for-5 and finished with 10 points. They helped Briar Cliff remain undefeated (10-0) at home.

The Chargers led by as many as 22 points in the second half. They maintained an advantage of 14 poitns or more throughout the final 20 minutes.

Concordia had not played a true road game since upsetting No. 3 Northwood University, 86-70, in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Dec. 29.

The Bulldogs will have a chance to snap their three-game skid when they welcome Hastings (6-15, 3-8 GPAC) to town on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tipoff. The visiting Broncos have lost 10-consecutive games since upsetting then No. 20 Tabor College (Kan.), 84-76, on Nov. 29. In this season’s first meeting with Hastings, Concordia recorded a 77-74 victory inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Nov. 25.

Men’s basketball seeks season sweep of Hastings in Wednesday home battle

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia men’s basketball team will look to jump back above .500 overall after a three-game losing streak that has followed a three-game winning streak. With a win in Wednesday’s home matchup with Hastings, second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad (10-10, 5-8 GPAC) would earn a season sweep of the rival Broncos (6-15, 3-8 GPAC) for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. from Walz Arena on Wednesday.

A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network.

Cancer awareness week
As part of cancer awareness week around the GPAC, Limback and his staff will don the ‘suit and sneakers’ look on Wednesday.

Folkerts dominates
Sophomore big man Chandler Folkerts has shown no signs of slowing down since being named the NAIA Division II National Player of the Week on Jan. 6. The native of Milford, Neb., came up with 18 points and seven rebounds while making 8 of 13 shots from the field in last week’s loss at No. 16 Briar Cliff. Over the last five games, Folkerts has averaged 22.8 points and 8.4 rebounds while going 47-for-67 (.701) from the floor. Among all NAIA Division II players, Folkerts ranks 10th in field goal percentage (.608). He’s also been deadly accurate from the free throw line, where he’s drained 73 of 90 attempts (.811).

Jockeying for position
Concordia and Hastings, among others, are in a tight race for seventh place in the GPAC standings. Teams seven through 10 in the standings each have either seven or eight league losses: Concordia (5-8), Nebraska Wesleyan (4-7), Doane (3-8) and Hastings (3-8). Only two of the four are likely to finish in the top eight and advance to the GPAC tournament, which will begin Feb. 24. The Bulldogs are yearning to get back to the league tournament after a two-year absence.

Lighten up
Concordia went 3-4 over the past seven games in what was arguably the team’s toughest seven-game stretch of the entire season. The recent slate has included contests against teams ranked third, fourth, eighth and 16th in the NAIA Division II national poll. That stretch also included the defending GPAC regular-season champion (Dordt) and another team (Northwestern) that has now won five of its last six games. The next six games on the schedule are all against unranked teams and only one opponent (either CU-Ann Arbor or CU-Wisconsin) currently sports a winning overall record.

Next six games
Jan. 21 vs. Hastings (6-15)
Jan. 24 at Grace University (8-12)
Jan. 28 at Doane (8-13)
Jan. 30 vs. CU-Chicago (5-11)
Jan. 31 vs. CU-Ann Arbor (11-7) / CU-Wisconsin (10-6)
Feb. 4 vs. Nebraska Wesleyan (7-9) 

High-powered GPAC
Few teams in the high-powered GPAC have had difficulty put points on the board in 2014-15. Seven of the league’s 11 teams average more than 80 points per game, putting those seven in the top 30 among all NAIA Division II teams in scoring. Despite its highest points per game average since the 2003-04 season, Concordia (79.1 ppg) ranks just eighth in the conference in scoring. The Bulldogs have lost all five games this season when scoring fewer than 70 points. On the other hand, they are 6-1 when reaching the 80-point mark.

GPAC scoring leaders
*National rank in parentheses
1. Nebraska Wesleyan – 96.4 (2)
2. Northwestern – 90.2 (5)
3. Dakota Wesleyan – 89.7 (6)
4. Dordt – 88.9 (9)
5. Morningside – 84.9 (14)
6. Midland – 82.8 (22)
7. Briar Cliff – 80.7 (28)
8. Concordia – 79.1 (40) 

Haywood watch
Averaging a career best 11.8 points per game, senior guard Joel Haywood sits 42 points away from becoming the 26th member of the program’s 1,000-point club. Based on his average, Haywood is on track to eclipse that total at the Concordia Invitational Tournament Jan. 30-31 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The native of Lakewood, Colo., is one of the nation’s most efficient shooters, sporting percentages of 47.2 from the field, 45.1 from 3-point range and 90.2 from the free throw line.

Hastings looks to snap losing streak
Hastings enters Wednesday’s contest seeking its first win since upsetting then No. 20 Tabor College, 84-76, on Nov. 29. Since then, the Broncos have dropped 10-consecutive games, including six against GPAC opponents. Head coach Bill Gavers’ squad features the conference’s third leading scorer in Tobin Reinwald. The Broncos rank ninth in the conference in scoring offense (76.1) and eighth in scoring defense (80.1).

Bulldogs fall victim to Hastings’ torrid long range shooting

SEWARD, Neb. – A stifling hot Hastings bunch drained six of its first eight 3-point attempts to stop its 10-game skid. The visiting Broncos shot 49.2 percent from the field on the way to an 87-60 victory over the Concordia University men’s basketball team inside Walz Arena on Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs had sought their first regular-season sweep of Hastings since the 2010-11 campaign.

The defeat marked the fourth straight for second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which fell to 10-11 overall and 5-9 in league play. The loss was crucial for GPAC tournament positioning as the Bulldogs moved back to eighth place. Eight teams advance to the league tournament.

The 3-point onslaught was out of character for a Hastings (7-15, 4-8 GPAC) team that entered the night shooting 33.3 percent from long range. On Wednesday the Broncos got treys from six different players to frustrate Concordia. Freshman guard Connor Musiel splashed in 6 of 8 shots from distance to lead a Hastings barrage that missiled in 14 of 23 (.609) hurls from behind the arc.

The Bulldogs again got a good chunk of their offensive production from the stellar combo of Chandler Folkerts (16 points, six rebound and three blocks) and Robby Thomas (nine points and four rebounds). Unfortunately, defensive struggles surfaced just as they have recently while up against a league loaded with dynamic offensive attacks. Each of Concordia’s last three opponents have shot better than 49 percent from the field.

The boards were also dominated by Hastings, which out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 47-30. Concordia was held to 36.7 percent shooting and got little in the way of second-chance opportunities with the Broncos ensuring mostly one-and-done possessions.

Freshman guard Reilly Carew provided solid minutes off the bench for Concordia. He turned in seven points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists in 21 minutes of action. Fellow freshman Kevin White chipped in eight points.

The only Bulldog lead of the night occurred when Folkerts scored in the paint for the game’s first points. The Broncos followed with an 8-0 run and never looked back. Head coach Bill Gavers’ squad led, 45-27, at halftime and grew its lead to as many as 29 points in the second half.

The Broncos’ leading scorers were Carson Blum (19 points), Musiel (18) and Tobin Reinwald (17).

Hastings had not won since upsetting then No. 20 Tabor College, 84-76, on Nov. 29.

The Bulldogs break from conference action on Saturday when they trek to Omaha for a road contest with Grace University (8-13). Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. In this season’s first meeting with the Royals, Concordia fell by a 73-60 score inside Walz Arena as part of the Cattle Classic on Nov. 7.

Bulldogs bounce back with 78-58 win at Grace

OMAHA, Neb. – Strong play away from home continued Saturday afternoon as the Concordia University men’s basketball team shook off a four-game losing streak. The Bulldogs used a 13-0 first-half run en route to a 78-58 victory at Grace University. The win avenged a 73-60 loss to the Royals (9-14) at the Cattle Classic on Nov. 7.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad moved back to .500 overall at 11-11. Concordia is 7-4 this season in road/neutral contests.

“Everyone knew we needed to have good practices after Wednesday night,” Limback said. “I thought we had a good practice Thursday. Our guys got after it and we had good mental preparation. You could tell we were more locked in today. To bounce back against an athletic team that beat us on our home court, I was pleased with it.”

Three days after suffering an 87-60 home loss to Hastings, Concordia responded with a much improved defensive effort. In the process of holding Grace to 32.8 percent shooting for the game, the Bulldogs built a 10-point lead (22-12) midway through the first half when freshman guard Rudy Knight drilled treys on back-to-back possessions.

Not long after, Concordia went on a game-defining 13-0 run that made it 35-16 late in the first half. Sophomore big Chandler Folkerts, who posted his GPAC-leading sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds, combined with junior guard Micah Kohlwey for 11 points during the spurt that gave the Bulldogs complete control for the remainder of the game.

Unlike the first meeting back in November, Concordia kept Grace’s talented trio of Ayotunde Akinbote, Jarrod Sheffield and Hakeem Stewart in check. The first time around they combined for 54 points. On Saturday they were held to a total of 18 points while going a combined 6-for-24 from the floor.

“It was a priority for us to improve defensively,” Limback said. “I thought our mindset was much better and we talked better. We wanted to defend a lot better than we did the last three games and we did that.”

Offensively, the Bulldogs got contributions from all directions as seven different players tallied eight or more points. Knight led the way with 15 points (two shy of a career high). Folkerts and Robby Thomas (10 points) joined Knight in double figures. Senior Joel Haywood chipped in nine points, six assists and four rebounds and Justin Damme provided eight points and four boards off the bench.

“Our bench was great,” Limback said. “Rudy gave us a nice spark and did a lot of good things. It was a game where we wanted to be able to pound the ball inside and our guards played with confidence and stepped up. It was a pretty balanced attack.”

A 15-5 second half run gave the Bulldogs their largest lead, 75-46, with 3:29 left before the Royals ended the game on a 12-3 splurge. The significant point spread allowed Limback to use 12 different players. Nine of them registered in the scoring column.

Concordia also got a boost from its outside shooting. The Bulldogs went 11-for-25 (.440) from 3-point range. Six different players made at least one triple for Concordia. Knight went 3-for-5 from downtown and Haywood made both of his attempts from beyond the arc.

The Bulldogs return to conference play on Wednesday when they travel to play nearby rival Doane (9-14, 4-9 GPAC). Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. from Crete, Neb. In this season’s first meeting, the Tigers topped Concordia, 71-66, in Seward on Dec. 3. The road team has won each of the last three matchups in the series. Wednesday’s game is crucial for both team’s GPAC tournament berth aspirations. Concordia (5-9 GPAC) sits a half game in front of Doane for ninth place.

Ziegler scorches Doane as road success continues

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.”

Haywood joins 1,000-point club in CIT win over CU-Chicago

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In a high-energy affair common to one of the nation’s longest-running basketball tournaments, the Bulldogs outgunned Concordia University-Chicago, 84-73, in the opening men’s contest of the 64th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Friday afternoon. Second-year CUNE leader Ben Limback made his return to the place where he spent nine years as head coach and won the only two CIT titles in Concordia-Ann Arbor history.

Limback, the tournament’s first coach to win a CIT title at two different Concordias, has guided his squad to Saturday’s championship game while improving its overall record to 13-11. The Bulldogs are now 9-4 in games away from Walz Arena.

“We still have to figure out how to step on the throttle and figure out the things that got us the lead and the things we’re great at,” Limback said. “I thought we became stagnant offensively. I feel like we need to play with more confidence and focus better tomorrow night.”

A CIT all-tournament performer at least year’s event, sophomore Chandler Folkerts banked 20 points and nine rebounds while sophomore marksmen Eli Ziegler pumped in three more treys after making six in Wednesday’s win at Doane. With CUC attempting to come all the way back from a 15-point deficit, Ziegler nailed a crucial trey at the 4:06 mark of the second half, extending the Bulldog advantage to 70-61.

Just under two minutes later, Folkerts powered home a three-point play after the Cougars clawed back within four. The Bulldogs built the lead to 11 when Joel Haywood drove for an acrobatic layup that made him the 26th member of the program’s 1,000-point club. CUC provided one more push before being put away with CUNE’s 6-for-6 free throw shooting over the final two minutes.

Haywood ended up with 16 points in reaching a milestone with several family members wielding signs and fatheads bearing the Lakewood, Colo., native’s face. Haywood is now part of an exclusive club that includes his head coach.

“It feels good. It’s good to be recognized with great players that make that list,” Haywood said. “I owe it all to the guys I’ve played with in more four years here and my coaches for giving me opportunities.”

Big games from Folkerts and Haywood were needed on an afternoon when CUNE uncharacteristically shot only 58.8 percent (20-for-34) from the free throw line while withstanding several late jabs from a CUC bunch that kept coming.

The Cougars pushed the Bulldogs to the wire despite trailing by 15 in the second half. Leading by three late in the opening half, CUNE freshman guard Rudy Knight knocked in a long triple to kick start a 14-2 run that put the Bulldogs up 56-41. The run provided enough cushion as CUC’s Kylan Anderson (22 points) and Kostas Doxakis (16 points) attempted to lead a comeback.

“They kept making runs and we had to continue to push and do the things we wanted to do,” Haywood said. “We got out of sorts at times but when we got back to our game plan, worked hard and were aggressive, things started to work out for us.”

Robby Thomas recorded his fifth double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. His two blocks moved him within one of tying the program single-season record. Ziegler totaled 14 points and Knight chipped in 12 off the bench.

Over three career CIT games, Folkerts has averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.

The Bulldogs will seek their 26th all-time CIT championship trophy on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. EST in the final game of the tournament. CUNE will play the winner between host Concordia-Ann Arbor (13-8) and Concordia-Wisconsin (12-7). The Bulldogs toppled both teams during last year’s CIT title run.

Last-second three sends CUNE to CIT title game defeat

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Despite a sluggish offensive first half, the Bulldog men’s basketball team rallied late to tie host Concordia University-Ann Arbor before freshman Alec Turner drained a trey to lift the Cardinals to a 52-49 Concordia Invitational Tournament title game victory on Saturday night. The 64th annual CIT marked the third-straight title game appearance for CUNE.

The Cardinals (15-8) celebrated their third all-time CIT title on their home court. Their previous two championships came under second-year Bulldog head coach Ben Limback, who stood at the helm of the CUAA program for nine seasons. CUNE dropped to 13-12 overall after falling short in its bid for a 26th CIT title.

“It was a great game. I think the fans and everybody had a good time,” Limback said. “We made some plays at the end to get back in it. The last three minutes I really felt like we had the momentum and we were making some confident plays.

“You have to hand it to their kid. He hit a big shot.”

The Bulldogs, who fell behind by as many as 14 points, made a significant rally just as they did at the 2014 CIT when they erased an 18-point Cardinal lead en route to a 73-61 win in the opening men’s game of the tournament. On Saturday, buckets in the final 2:15 by Chandler Folkerts and Robby Thomas twice pulled CUNE even with the Cardinals.

In the game’s waning moments, CUAA came out of a loose ball scramble with a timeout. The Cardinals then wound the clock down and set the stage for Turner’s game-winning shot from the left wing that left only a half second.

Turner’s heroics broke the hearts of a Bulldog bunch that nearly overcame a season low point total. CUNE fought its way back in part by riding the hot hand of sophomore guard Eli Ziegler. The native of Littleton, Colo., went 4-for-6 from downtown. Ziegler connected on three of his triples during a 13-2 run that tied the game at 47 with 2:15 left.

“He stepped up and hit some big shots last night and tonight,” Limback said of Ziegler. “We’d obviously like to see that continue. Other guys who didn’t have it tonight, we need to step up.”

Senior Joel Haywood represented the Bulldogs on the all-tournament team. He tallied 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes of action. Sophomore Chandler Folkerts just missed his seventh double-double, recording eight points and 10 rebounds.

With three blocks on the evening, Thomas ran his season total to 61, moving him past Glen Snodgrass for the program's single-season rejection record.

A solid Bulldog defensive effort limited the Cardinals to 39.3 percent shooting. Head coach Ricky Yahn’s squad got a team best 12 points from Josh Fugate. Tournament MVP Andrew Patrick chipped in seven points and dished out five assists.

The Bulldogs have completed a busy period of three games in four days and now look forward to a return to Walz Arena where they will host Nebraska Wesleyan (9-10, 6-8 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Concordia won this season’s first meeting with the Prairie Wolves, 96-78, in Lincoln on Dec. 10. Red hot Nebraska Wesleyan has won seven of its last nine games.

CIT All-Tournament Team
MVP – Andrew Patrick, CUAA
Brett Boettcher, CUW
Kylan Anderson Jr., CUC
Joel Haywood, CUNE
Josh Fugate, CUAA

Ziegler’s hot hand extinguishes Prairie Wolves

SEWARD, Neb. – In a game that played out at a break-neck pace for most of the evening, one team had Eli Ziegler – and the other did not. Ziegler pumped in seven treys to lead the Concordia University men’s basketball team to an 86-83 win over visiting Nebraska Wesleyan on Wednesday night. In the process, the Bulldogs picked up their first regular-season sweep of the Prairie Wolves since the 2011-12 season.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad pushed its record to 14-12 overall while jumping to 7-9 in conference action. In a tightly-grouped race, Concordia sits in sixth place. Three teams are tied for seventh with 6-9 league marks.

Without Ziegler’s career high 25 points, Limback may have been discussing a different outcome on Wednesday.

“He’s been having some good games. He’s been shooting it well,” Limback said. “We did a good job looking for him tonight. Any time you go against a zone you have to find a way to find those shooters. Eli stepped up and hit big shots.”

Ziegler did his part to bust up the Praire Wolf zone. Already with five triples on the night, the native of Littleton, Colo., surfaced with a three from left corner that edged the Bulldogs in front, 81-80, with 2:12 remaining. Thirty seconds later Ziegler found the other corner to his liking and splashed in another bomb off the assist from Chandler Folkerts for a four-point advantage.

Byron Thompson attempted to lead Wesleyan back. His three-point play made it a one-point margin in the final 20 seconds. After Joel Haywood canned two free throws, Thompson misfired on a three at the buzzer and Concordia could finally exhale.

No more threes would be needed from Mr. Ziegler, who gave credit to his teammates – all seven of his triples were assisted.

“It was mostly because of my teammates,” Ziegler said. “They were giving me good passes and I happened to be hitting them tonight. It’s all my teammates.”

Ziegler was not alone. Haywood put forth a big night that included 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Folkerts added 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals. Meanwhile, Robby Thomas erased four shots while chipping in eight rebounds.

An impressive offensive flow torched Nebraska Wesleyan’s zone for 14 treys and 51.7 percent shooting for the game. The Bulldogs assisted 23 of their 30 made field goals and held a high-scoring Prairie Wolf bunch to 34 second-half points.

“I liked our defense better in the second half,” Limback said. “We locked into their key guys and communicated better. Any time you get a win this time of year you have to like it.”

The game provided a stark contrast to the Bulldogs’ most recent outing – a 52-49 loss to CU-Ann Arbor in the CIT championship. In a much faster-paced affair, Concordia trailed Wesleyan by as many as eight points before rallying to set the stage for a tense final 10 minutes.

Nebraska Wesleyan, which came into the night averaging 93.9 points, got 20 or more from three different players. Trey Bardsley, who threw in 48 points in a win over Northwestern on Jan. 24, knocked in a team high 22 points. He made 4 of 8 attempts from long range but also committed eight turnovers.

The Bulldogs will appear at home one final time this season when they grace Walz Arena on Saturday in a matchup with sixth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (23-3, 13-3 GPAC). Joel Haywood, Concordia’s lone senior, will be honored. Last week Haywood became the program’s 26th player to reach 1,000 career points. The Bulldogs fell by a score of 91-78 to the Tigers in Mitchell, S.D., on Dec. 19.

Men’s basketball welcomes Dakota Wesleyan for home regular-season finale

SENIOR DAY PROGRAM | PDF

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior guard Joel Haywood will play his final regular-season home game as a Bulldog on Saturday when the Concordia University men’s basketball team hosts sixth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (23-3, 13-3 GPAC) on Saturday. Tipoff from Walz Arena is slated for 4 p.m.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad is now 5-7 at home following Wednesday’s 86-83 win over Nebraska Wesleyan. The Tigers have won nine of 12 on the road and will seek a season sweep of the Bulldogs (14-12, 7-9 GPAC), whom Dakota Wesleyan defeated, 91-78, in Mitchell, S.D., on Dec. 19.

A live webcast of the contest will be available via the Concordia Sports Network. Saturday is also Fan Appreciation Day in partnership with Wild Chiropractic and Acupuncture of Seward. Temporary tattoos and ice cream will be available between the women’s and men’s games at Walz.

Z’s threes
One of the hottest shooters in the nation, sophomore Eli Ziegler buried Nebraska Wesleyan with seven triples on 12 attempts. With the Bulldogs trailing 80-78 late in the game, the sharpshooting guard from Littleton, Colo., knocked in treys on back-to-back possessions to put Concordia up four and carry it to victory. Ziegler, who notched a career best 25 points in the victory, has averaged 18.5 points while going 20-for-33 (.606) from 3-point range over the past four games. Ziegler’s recent binge has pushed his season 3-point field goal percentage to .458, which ranks fourth best among GPAC players and 16th among all NAIA Division II players.

Haywood joins the club
With 16 points in the 84-73 CIT victory over Concordia-Chicago on Jan. 30, senior Joel Haywood became the 26th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. Over his four-year career, Haywood has averaged 9.9 points in 104 games. The native of Lakewood, Colo., is enjoying his best season in his final year, sporting averages of 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals. He is shooting 48.0 percent from the field, 47.2 percent from 3-point range and 89.3 percent from the free throw line (third among all NAIA Division II players). In Wednesday’s victory, Haywood posted a line of 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Thomas swats his way to record
In last week’s 52-49 CIT title loss to CU-Ann Arbor, junior Robby Thomas rejected three shots to surpass the former program single-season record of 59 blocks by Glen Snodgrass in 1997-98. Thomas added four more blocks versus Nebraska Wesleyan to run his season total to 65. The native of Shawnee, Kan., now has 130 career blocks over 76 games. Snodgrass remains the program’s record holder for career swats with 188 over his 125-game career. Thomas currently ranks third among all NAIA Division II players with 2.71 blocks per game.

Filling it up
Concordia ranks as one of the nation’s most prolific 3-point shooting teams, checking in at No. 19 nationally in total 3-point field goals (203) and 23rd in 3-point field goal percentage (.385). Over their last five games, the Bulldogs have averaged 10 triples per game while making 41.3 percent (50-for-121) of their attempts from beyond the arc. Their 14 3-point field goals in Wednesday’s win tied a season high. Concordia is 7-2 when connecting on 10 or more 3-pointers in a game.

80 is the magic number
After totaling a season low 49 points in the CIT championship game, Concordia ramped it back up with 86 points in Wednesday’s triumph. Ranked 46th nationally with an average of 77.6 points per game, The Bulldogs are 9-1 when scoring 80 or more points. The only loss in such instances was a 108-106 overtime defeat at the hands of Northwestern on Jan. 10.

Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
Head coach Matt Wilber guides one of the nation’s most well-rounded teams. The first-place Tigers lean upon a trio of stars in senior forward Jalen Voss (20.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg), senior guard Kris Menning (17.5 ppg, 49.0 3-pt%) and junior guard Trae Bergh (15.9 ppg, 3.85 apg). The talented triumvirate has made Dakota Wesleyan one of the nation’s most potent offenses with national rankings of first in 3-point field goals (274), first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.39), first in field goal percentage (.527), second in 3-point field goal percentage (.418) and seventh in scoring (87.8 ppg). The Tigers’ only losses have come away from home to the likes of Dordt (84-83), No. 9 Midland (76-52) and No. 10 Morningside (80-74).

Folkerts collects Capital One Academic All-District first team award

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SEWARD, Neb. – A blossoming star on the court, sophomore Chandler Folkerts has been recognized for his work as both an athlete and in the classroom. The native of Milford, Neb., has been named to the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-District® 3 Men’s Basketball College Division first team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Thursday.

CoSIDA: “The Capital One Academic All-District® Men’s Basketball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Capital One has been the entitlement rights holder to CoSIDA’s Academic All-America teams programs since 2011.”

Other Concordia All-District selections in 2014-15 include Brendan Buchanan (soccer), Bailey Morris (basketball), Rachel Mussell (soccer) and Melissa Stine (soccer). Folkerts, an agricultural engineering major, has received the all-district honor for the first time in his career.

Folkerts burst onto the scene during the week of Dec. 29 when he averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over three games on the way to earning NAIA Division II National Player of the Week honors. On the season, Folkerts leads the Bulldogs with averages of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds. His field goal percentage of .614 ranks seventh best nationally.

The progression of Concordia’s 6-foot-8 post has helped translate to significant improvement for the Bulldogs (14-12) as a team. Concordia has already added six wins to its total from a year ago.

District 3 of the College Division covers institutions in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Academic All-District® honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected and then released on Feb. 18.

Tiger firepower sinks Concordia

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time this season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team fell victim to sixth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan’s impressive arsenal of firepower. The visiting Tigers spoiled senior day by knocking down 12 treys on the way to a 92-83 win over the Bulldogs inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, winners of four of its last five games entering the weekend, slipped to 14-13 overall and 7-10 in league play. The loss dropped Concordia back to ninth place as it continues its pursuit of a top-eight finish required to reach the GPAC tournament.

Lack of communication on the defensive end contributed to the Bulldogs’ inability to get enough stops on Saturday.

“I didn’t like our communication on defense,” Limback said. “There are two parts to communication. If you don’t talk you give up wide-open shots because of breakdowns execution-wise. It also gets you going. It gets your mind engaged. Tonight we were consistently giving up wide-open shots.”

Concordia’s offense operated efficiently, as evidenced by 50.8 percent shooting and a 44-28 advantage in points in the paint. However, senior guard Kris  Menning got loose with a game high 25 points and Dakota Wesleyan (24-3, 14-3 GPAC) shot 50 percent from the field while also knocking down 16 of 19 (.842) free throws.

Led by Joel Haywood, Concordia’s lone senior, the Bulldogs made a late run that hacked a 17 deficit all the way down to five (84-79) with just over a minute remaining. Haywood piled up 14 of his 16 points in the second half to give his team a fighting chance down the stretch. The native of Lakewood, Colo., pumped in 10 points during the 20-8 spurt that had the Bulldogs breathing down Dakota Wesleyan’s neck.

The Tigers, now 10-3 on the road, shut the door on Concordia by going a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line over the game’s final 43 seconds.

The outside shooting combo of Menning and Jade Miller (combined 8-for-16 from beyond the arc) allowed Dakota Wesleyan to overcome another big effort from Bulldog sophomore Chandler Folkerts. The Milford native piled up 23 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action. Concordia also got 11 points apiece from freshman Rudy Knight and junior Robby Thomas.

Even with Tiger guard Trae Bergh limited to 2-for-10 shooting, Dakota Wesleyan still managed to surpass its season scoring average of 87.8 points per game.

“Dakota Wesleyan is a fabulous team. They have a lot of weapons,” Limback said.

After going 20-for-33 (.606) from 3-point range over his previous three games, sophomore Eli Ziegler hoisted only four treys, making one on Saturday. He had five points in 27 minutes.

Menning topped a group of four Tiger double-figure scorers that included Jalen Voss (19), Luke Bamberg (11) and Miller (11).

The Bulldogs will play their final three regular-season games on the road. That stretch begins with No. 9 Midland (20-6, 12-4 GPAC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The Warriors (10-2 at home) have won each of the past eight meetings with Concordia. Midland sits in third place in the GPAC standings.

Bulldogs rally to upset No. 12 Midland in Fremont

FREMONT, Neb. – Down 10 points right out of the gate, the Concordia University men’s basketball team charged back for a 79-71 road win that stunned No. 12 Midland in Fremont, Neb., on Wednesday night. A beast away from Walz Arena, the Bulldogs claimed their second top-15 ranked victim and ended an eight-game losing streak in the series with the Warriors, last season’s national runner up.

Like the Dec. 29 road upset of then No. 3 Northwood University, Concordia’s latest win represents another momentum builder for a team fighting for its GPAC tournament life. But thoughts of the conference tourney can wait. On this night it’s about reveling in the program’s first GPAC road win over a top 25 team in more than three years.

“Northwood was a great team and a great win, but it’s so difficult to win on the road in the conference at this point in the season,” Bulldog head coach Ben Limback said. “They know our personnel better. I thought we executed a lot of things well like the shot at the end of the first half. Then we closed it out with free throws.

“I thought this was a bigger win being able to get it on the road in the conference in an important game for both teams.”

Limback’s bunch moved to 15-13 overall and 8-10 in conference play (seventh place). The Bulldogs own a gaudy 10-5 mark away from Walz Arena.

The heroes on Wednesday were some of the usual suspects for Concordia in senior Joel Haywood (19 points, seven rebounds), junior Micah Kohwley (16 points, 4-for-6 3-point shooting) and sophomore Chandler Folkerts (15 points, 12 rebounds).

Kohlwey nailed a first-half 3-point buzzer beater that trimmed Concordia’s halftime deficit to just a single point (40-39). He then buried a pair of triples near the midway point of the second half that staked the Bulldogs to a nine-point lead. The advantage moved to 58-48 on the strength of a 14-4 Concordia run that ended with 7:09 left on the clock.

“Micah was consistent all night for us,” Limback said. “I feel like when he steps up our offense really opens up.”

Led by Jordon Flynn, Midland made one final push that slashed an 11-point Concordia lead with 1:01 left down to four (73-69) with 26 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs, who made 22 of 30 second half free throws, sealed the win by draining their final six attempts from the charity stripe. Said Limback, “You know there are no easy moments for us.”

After falling behind 10-0 to begin the game, Concordia fought back to take a first-half lead thanks to its hot 3-point shooting. Haywood ran in eight of his team’s first 15 points to help the Bulldogs settle in amidst hostile territory.

Kohlwey’s shooting, Folkerts’ toughness inside and a sound defensive second half later helped lift Concordia to a victory that may have seemed improbable to others, but not quite so surprising to Limback and company.

“I knew we’d compete,” Limback said. “We had a couple good practices and we had the right mindset. I liked our defense in the second half. Offensively we showed better patience in the second half and got to the free throw line.”

Concordia outshot Midland, 47.6 to 39.3 percent, and held a 36-24 advantage on the boards. Justin Damme (eight points) and Rudy Knight (seven points) were solid off the bench for Limback.

Head coach Todd Eisner’s squad was topped by Flynn’s 15 points. Standout guard Galen Gullie was limited to five points on 1-for-7 shooting.

The Bulldogs are back on the road on Saturday when they travel to Orange City, Iowa, to take on Northwestern (14-11, 7-10 GPAC) in a game critical to both teams’ hopes of reaching the eight-team GPAC tournament. The Red Raiders pulled out a 108-106 overtime victory at Walz Arena in this season’s first meeting. Concordia’s most recent win at Northwestern came by a score of 94-75 on Jan. 4, 2012, when the Red Raiders were ranked 14th nationally.

Ziegler buzzer-beating trey lifts road Dogs

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Not all are cut out for life on the road, but the Concordia University men’s basketball team has made its season away from home. On Saturday the Bulldogs celebrated after sophomore Eli Ziegler’s buzzer beating 25-foot 3-pointer fluttered through the net, lifting Concordia to a 76-74 win over Northwestern (14-12, 7-11 GPAC) in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday.

In the process, second-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad completed a stellar week that included a road upset of No. 12 Midland on Wednesday. The pair of wins have pushed the Bulldogs (16-13, 9-10 GPAC) up to fifth place in a crowded middle of the GPAC standings.

Ziegler’s game winner may be the shot that ultimately pushes Concordia into the eight-team conference tournament.

“I called for a timeout. Thank God the official didn’t hear me,” Limback said of the final sequence. “Eli just squared up and drained it. He’s not afraid to take the big shots. That was huge because I thought Northwestern outplayed us other than the first six or seven minutes of the game.

“It was a special moment for Eli. He’ll never forget it.”

On the possession prior to Ziegler’s heroics, Concordia failed to score and was forced to foul Northwestern’s Riley Francis, who missed a pair of shots from the charity stripe. With Northwestern clinging to a 74-73 lead, the ball wound up in Joel Haywood’s hands with the clock ticking under five seconds. Haywood dribbled into traffic near the top of the key and then dished it behind himself for Ziegler’s deep trey that left 0.5 seconds left.

The road magic continued for a Bulldog team that has won six of its nine road contests within the conference.

“I don’t know what it is,” Limback said. “I don’t know if it’s the bus rides or the way we prepare mentally. Our preparation isn’t much different home or away. We seem to have a little better focus and play with more toughness on the road. I’m baffled by it to be honest.”

As alluded to by Limback, Northwestern had the better of play for a great majority of the game. The Red Raiders roared back from deficits as large as 17 points in the first half and eight in the second half to put themselves in position to win. Nathan Wedel (game high 22 points) played a huge role in Northwestern’s second-half charge. His back-to-back buckets tied the game at 56 with 9:20 left to set up a nip-and-tuck finish.

Early on it looked as though Concordia may run the Red Raiders out of their own gym with its white-hot 3-point shooting. The Bulldogs nailed six of their first seven attempts from downtown in racing out to a 20-3 lead with barely 6:30 gone by. Four different Bulldogs made at least one trey – including two apiece by Ziegler and Robby Thomas – during the impressive shooting display.

Saturday also happened to be the birthday of Ziegler, who finished with 14 points while going 4-for-9 from beyond the arc. Chandler Folkerts fought off Northwestern’s physical game plan by going for 18 points (6-for-8 from the field). Thomas (14 points) and Haywood (12 points, five assists) also reached double figures.

Concordia cooled off from 3-point land but still managed to shoot 50 percent (11-for-22) for the game from beyond the arc and 51.0 percent (25-for-49) overall. Northwestern made only two of its 15 attempts from distance but shot 46.3 percent (25-for-54 overall).

Defensively, junior Micah Kohlwey did a number on Northwestern season leading scorer Colton Kooima (14.8 ppg). Kooima was held to two points and no made field goals (0-for-5) on Saturday.

The Bulldogs will close the regular season next Saturday with a trip to No. 8 Morningside (23-3, 15-3 GPAC). Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. in Sioux City, Iowa.

Bulldogs push No. 7 Morningside to wire in regular-season finale

By Taylor Mueller

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In its final regular-season game of the year, the Concordia University men’s basketball squad fell just short of an upset with a 90-84 defeat at the hands of seventh-ranked Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback’s bunch closes the regular-season with records of 16-14 overall and 9-11 in conference play. Concordia has guaranteed a winning season and will enter the GPAC tournament as the No. 7 seed.

On Saturday the Bulldogs were hot out of the gates as freshman Eli Ziegler and junior Roby Thomas connected on back-to-back-to-back treys, giving Concordia an early 9-6 advantage. The 3-point shooting was certainly not lacking for the Bulldogs, who went on to shoot 52 percent from three point land on the day, with contributions from seven different team members.

Despite the hot shooting, Morningside (25-3, 17-3 GPAC) pulled ahead to build a nine-point lead with 6:53 to go in the first half. The Bulldogs battled back, however, behind seven points from junior Micah Kohlwey and a 3-point buzzer beater by Kevin White, who heaved the ball off the backboard from just inside half court. The Mustangs led 43-41 at the break.

Just 12 seconds into the second half, Thomas connected on another 3-point bucket to spark a 22-14 Bulldog run. Despite a few Mustang attempts to regain momentum, the Bulldogs held a nine point lead with 9:42 remaining in the game. A free throw and two three-pointers later, however, the Mustangs were back within striking distance as the Concordia lead shriveled to two points. The opponents traded baskets until just 50 seconds remained in the game, when Morningside took a two point lead for the first time since the 18:34 mark of the second half. Morningside knocked in eight clutch free throws to seal the deal.

“In the second half we controlled the game,” head coach Ben Limback said. “We did a good job of attacking offensively and our defense forced them to miss some shots. I liked our offense. We want more touches for Chandler (Folkerts) but we did a nice job getting open looks. Offensively we’ve got four-five-six guys every night who are aggressive and attacking. We’re definitely at a much different confidence level now.”

Leading the Bulldog charge was Thomas with 17 points, four assists and six rebounds. Folkerts added 16 points while Kohlwey and senior Joel Haywood added 12 and 14 points, respectively, and six rebounds apiece.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs are maintaining their focus on the journey that has yet to end, as they prepare for conference tournament action and a Wednesday trip to Mitchell, S.D., to take on fifth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (27-3, 17-3 GPAC), which shared the GPAC regular-season title with Morningside. Tipoff for the GPAC quarterfinal game is set for 7 p.m.

“We’re playing our best basketball at the right time,” Limback said. “We’ve made progress. We’re not going to just settle with making the conference tournament. We want to continue to push for a GPAC championship. Morningside had a lot riding on this game with a chance to win the conference. We have a confident group right now. We definitely aren’t hanging our heads. We’re expecting greatness in the conference tournament.”

Folkerts named to Capital One academic All-America second team

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SEWARD, Neb. – Named academic all-district on Feb. 5, sophomore Chandler Folkerts was elevated to the Capital One Academic All-America® Men’s Basketball College Division second team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Monday.

CoSIDA: “The Capital One Academic All-America® Men’s Basketball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Capital One has been the entitlement rights holder to CoSIDA’s Academic All-America teams programs since 2011.”

An agricultural engineering major, Folkerts is a first-time academic All-America honoree. With a GPA of 3.99, Folkerts excels in the classroom in addition to being one of the GPAC’s top post players. The native of Milford, Neb., is the only freshman or sophomore to appear on either first or second team (see below). This season Folkerts is averaging career highs in 15.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Named the NAIA Division II national player of the week on Jan. 6, Folkerts ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.622).

Folkerts joins both Brendan Buchanan (soccer) and Rachel Mussell (soccer) as other Bulldog student-athletes to be named academic All-Americans in 2014-15. In addition, Adam Meirose (football), Bailey Morris (basketball) and Melissa Stine (soccer) received academic all-district recognition.

Folkerts and the Bulldogs (16-14, 9-11 GPAC) begin postseason play on Wednesday when they travel to play second-seeded Dakota Wesleyan (27-3, 17-3 GPAC). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Mitchell, S.D.

Capital One 2014-15 Academic All-America Men’s Basketball Team (College Division)

FIRST TEAM
Trae Bergh, Dakota Wesleyan, Jr.
Zach Miller, Bethel (Ind.), Sr.
Bryan Redic, Mount Vernon Nazarene, Sr.
Matt Schauss, Bethel (Ind.), Sr.
Tony Smit, Cardinal Stritch, Sr. 

SECOND TEAM
Chandler Folkerts, Concordia (Neb.), So.
Zach Rockers, Columbia (Mo.), Jr.
Tanner Sutton, Columbia (Mo.), Sr.
Eric Thompson, Southern Oregon, Sr.
Tim Weber, Southern Oregon, Sr.

Men’s basketball hits road for GPAC tournament

SEWARD, Neb. – After a two-year absence from the GPAC tournament, the Concordia University men’s basketball team returns to postseason action on Wednesday when it travels to play No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan (27-3, 17-3 GPAC) in the conference quarterfinals. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from The Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D. The Tigers are unbeaten (15-0) at home while Concordia owns a mark of 11-6 away from Walz Arena.

The winner will advance to play either third-seeded Midland (23-7, 15-5 GPAC) or sixth-seeded Dordt (18-12, 9-11 GPAC) on Saturday in the conference semifinals. Wednesday’s game can be seen live Dakota Wesleyan’s Stretch Internet portal.

The co-GPAC regular-season champion Tigers have won each of the past six meetings with the Bulldogs. This year’s matchups have been decided by scores of 91-78 in Mitchell on Dec. 19 and 92-83 in Seward on Feb. 7. In the most recent meeting, Dakota Wesleyan overcame a 23-point, eight-rebound performance from Chandler Folkerts by knocking down 12 3-point field goals.

Second-year head coach Ben Limback will be coaching in the GPAC tournament for the first time. In the first five years of the GPAC tournament, then head coach Grant Schmidt guided the program to three conference championship game appearances. The Bulldogs won GPAC tournament titles in 2003 and 2005 – Concordia’s most recent appearance in the championship contest. The Bulldogs’ all-time record at the GPAC tournament is 14-10.

Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan is making its third-consecutive appearance in the conference tournament. In last year’s GPAC bracket, the Tigers upset eventual national runner up Midland, 83-80, in the quarterfinals. Head coach Matt Wilber’s squad ended the season with a 108-106 overtime loss at then No. 15 Morningside in the semifinals.

Folkerts and company hope to continue their recent run of solid play on the road. The Bulldogs are 6-4 in GPAC road games and possessed a three-game conference road win streak before last week’s 90-84 loss at No. 7 Morningside. Concordia has knocked off two ranked teams away from home – No. 3 Northwood University and No. 12 Midland.

Since back-to-back losses to ranked foes near the end of January, Dakota Wesleyan has rebounded with six-straight wins to end the regular season. One of the nation’s most efficient offensive squads, among all NAIA Division II teams, the Tigers rank first in assists per game (21.4), first in field goal percentage (.522), first in assist/turnover ratio (2.37), second in free throw percentage (.779) and fourth in points per game (87.9).

On the other hand, Concordia has shot well of late in its own right. Over the past five games, the Bulldogs have shot 52.3 percent (139-for-266) from the field and 46.4 percent (52-for-112) from beyond the arc. Concordia has moved up to 13th among all NAIA Division II teams in 3-point field goal percentage (.396).

Concordia (16-14, 9-11 GPAC)
OFF: 78.0 ppg
DEF: 76.7 ppg
Scoring leader: Chandler Folkerts – 15.6 ppg
Rebound leader: Chandler Folkerts – 7.5 rpg
Assists leader: Joel Haywood – 3.80 apg
Steals leader: Chandler Folkerts – 1.33 spg
Blocks leader: Robby Thomas – 2.50 bpg

Dakota Wesleyan (27-3, 17-3 GPAC)
OFF: 87.9 ppg
DEF: 69.3 ppg
Scoring leader: Jalen Voss – 20.5 ppg
Rebound leader: Luke Bamberg – 6.5 rpg
Assists leader: Trae Bergh – 3.83 apg
Steals leader: Trae Bergh – 1.37 spg
Blocks leader: Jalen Voss – 1.04 bpg

Bulldogs end season at 16-15 with GPAC quarterfinal defeat

MITCHELL, S.D. – Matched with GPAC regular-season co-champion and third nationally-ranked Dakota Wesleyan, the Concordia University men’s basketball team made its return to the GPAC postseason after a two-year absence. Despite holding the potent Tigers to 10 points below their season scoring average, the Bulldogs ended their season with a 78-64 loss in Mitchell, S.D., on Wednesday night.

At 16-15 overall, Concordia ended a stretch of three-consecutive campaigns without a winning record. The win total doubles its victory count from last season when head coach Ben Limback’s first Bulldog squad went 8-21 overall.

More signs of progress were shown Wednesday against a Dakota Wesleyan (28-3) team that has yet to lose at the Corn Palace (16-0).

“They’re a real tough team, especially at home,” Limback said. “I’m proud of our guys. We defended and held them to 42 percent shooting. If you would have told me we would hold them to 78 points, I would have thought we would have a good chance.

“This was a physical game and we couldn’t get things going offensively, but I’m proud of the effort.”

After trailing by 17 with under nine minutes left in the game, Concordia went on a 14-3 run that cut the Tiger lead to 66-60 with 5:04 left. The spurt began with six-straight points from Chandler Folkerts (team high 16 points) and ended with Eli Ziegler stroking one of his three triples on the night. The powerful Tigers ended the game on a 12-4 run to turn the lights out on the Bulldog season.

The loss ended the career of senior Joel Haywood, who this season became the 26th member of Concordia’s 1,000-point club. He concludes his four years as a Bulldog with 1,091 points and 334 assists – sixth most in program history.

Haywood was held to four points in his final collegiate game. Three Bulldogs joined Folkerts in double figures in scoring: Micah Kohlwey (12), Robby Thomas (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Ziegler (11). After shooting 52.6 percent over its last five games, Concordia managed only 40.7 percent against Dakota Wesleyan.

On the other side, star senior Jalen Voss got loose for 28 points and 11 rebounds on 11-for-20 shooting from the field. Kris Menning added 22 points and Trae Bergh chipped in 15 for the victors.

While Concordia ends its season with conference quarterfinal loss, it looks ahead to 2015-16 with plenty of momentum. Haywood will depart as the lone senior. Budding stars in Folkerts and Thomas will serve as center pieces for a team that will be expected to make another leap forward. Folkerts burst onto the scene with national player of the week award and averaged 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds as a sophomore.

“The best part of this loss is our guys are even hungrier now,” Limback said. “I feel like we were playing our best basketball at the right time. If we didn’t draw Dakota Wesleyan things may have been different. I told the guys that I’m happy with the progress, but taking the next step will not be easy.”

Included in Concordia’s season of big improvements were road wins over No. 3 Northwood University and No. 12 Midland. The Bulldogs went 11-7 away from home. During the regular season, they finished in a three-way tie for sixth place.

Dakota Wesleyan advances to play 14th-ranked Midland in one of Saturday’s two GPAC semifinal games.

Folkerts, Thomas highlight Bulldog all-conference selections

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Named a national player of the week on Jan. 6, sophomore Chandler Folkerts highlights a group of three all-conference selections for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. On the strength of a stellar 2014-15 campaign, Folkerts earned first team all-conference honors, as announced by the GPAC on Wednesday. Meanwhile, junior Robby Thomas found himself on the second team and senior Joel Haywood received honorable mention.

Folkerts, also a Capital One second team academic All-America selection, averaged career highs of 15.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals as a sophomore. His .623 field goal percentage ranked fifth among all NAIA Division II players. The Milford native scored at least 20 points seven times and topped the conference with seven double-doubles. He put up a career best 26 points in back-to-back games against Midland and Northwestern.

Thomas, a native of Shawnee, Kan., elevates to the second team after being placed on honorable mention a year ago. The versatile 6-foot-7 Thomas broke the program single-season record with 71 blocks. He also averaged 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. He will enter his senior season with 136 career rejections.

Haywood, the 2011-12 co-GPAC freshman of the year, finished his four-year Bulldog career with 1,091 points, 385 rebounds and an assist total of 334 that ranks sixth on the program’s all-time list. The native of Lakewood, Colo., was named to the all-tournament team at CIT. Haywood saved his best season for last, averaging 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists while posting shooting percentages of 48.1 from the field, 46.5 from 3-point range and 87.8 from the free throw line as a senior.

Folkerts is the first Bulldog men’s basketball player to be named to the GPAC’s first team since Porter Birtell in 2011-12.

The development of Folkerts and Thomas, in addition to the leadership of Haywood, helped head coach Ben Limback’s squad post the program’s first winning season (16-15) since 2010-11.

Kohlwey earns scholar-athlete recognition for second-straight year

2014-15 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes

Micah Kohlwey has been named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second season in a row, as announced by the NAIA on Monday. The Seward native is majoring in exercise science.

This season Kohlwey averaged 7.7 points per contest while starting all 31 games. He shot 37.8 percent (42-for-111) from beyond the arc.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 131 Division II men’s basketball student-athletes across the nation were named scholar-athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,066 and counting following a fall 2014 total of 44 Scholar-Athletes. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Neb., that currently serves over 2,200 students. Concordia offers more than 50 professional and liberal arts programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world.

Folkerts placed on OWH’s All-Nebraska second team

OWH news article

SEWARD, Neb. – The selection of sophomore Chandler Folkerts as a second team NAIA All-Nebraska member highlighted a group of three Concordia University men’s basketball players honored on Sunday by the Omaha World-Herald. Senior Joel Haywood and junior Robby Thomas received honorable mention.

Folkerts, also a Capital One second team academic All-America selection, averaged career highs of 15.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals as a sophomore. His .623 field goal percentage ranked fifth among all NAIA Division II players. The Milford native scored at least 20 points seven times and topped the GPAC with seven double-doubles. He put up a career best 26 points in back-to-back games against Midland and Northwestern.

Thomas, a native of Shawnee, Kan., ascended to second team all-conference honors as a junior after being placed on honorable mention a year ago. The versatile 6-foot-7 Thomas broke the program single-season record with 71 blocks. He also averaged 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. He will enter his senior season with 136 career rejections.

Haywood, the 2011-12 co-GPAC freshman of the year, finished his four-year Bulldog career with 1,091 points, 385 rebounds and an assist total of 334 that ranks sixth on the program’s all-time list. The native of Lakewood, Colo., was named to the all-tournament team at CIT. Haywood saved his best season for last, averaging 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists while posting shooting percentages of 48.1 from the field, 46.5 from 3-point range and 87.8 from the free throw line as a senior.

Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska

First Team
G, Trey Bardsley, Jr., Nebraska Wesleyan, 23.2
G, Marcus Franklin, Sr., Midland, 12.7
G, Corday Sims, Jr., Peru State, 20.7
F, Tobin Reinwald, Sr., Hastings, 19.0
F, Alex Starkel, So., Midland, 15.3

Second Team
G, Deonte Holt, Jr., Doane, 17.6
G, Percy Lemle, Sr., Bellevue, 16.0
G, Taylor Young, Jr., Bellevue, 16.1
G, Galen Gullie, Sr., Midland, 12.2
C, Chandler Folkerts, So., Concordia, 15.6

Honorary captain: Tobin Reinwald, Hastings College

Honorable mention: Alex Worthen-Harris, Bellevue; Joel Haywood, Robby Thomas, Concordia; Nate Kuhl, Doane; Ayotunde Akinbote, Hakeem Stewart, Grace; Zach Lenagh, Hastings; Travis Giesselmann, Keithan Karn, Byron Thompson, Nebraska Wesleyan; Sean McGary, Phillip Jackson, Peru State; Cameron Coleman, Devaun Evans, Deon Willis, York.