Midland University shook off a slow start and pulled away for a 70-57 men’s basketball win over Concordia on Wednesday evening in Fremont. The host Warriors improved to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in GPAC play with the win. Concordia slipped to 4-3 (1-2 GPAC).
The Bulldogs got off to the quick start and took a 10-4 lead in the opening three minutes of the contest, forcing an early Midland University timeout. Each of Concordia’s starters scored baskets in the early stages. The Bulldogs extended the lead to eight before Midland rattled off five straight to pull within three at 16-13. A three point play by Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) pushed the Concordia lead back to six at 19-13 with 13 minutes remaining in the half.
The host Warriors responded with the next 15 points to grab a 28-19 lead. Several Bulldog turnovers allowed Midland to get back in the game. A jumper by Tyler Byrd (Bennington, Neb.) ended the Midland scoring run and cut the lead to seven at 28-21 with five minutes remaining in the half.
A 3-pointer by Jalen Hueser extended the Midland lead to 12 at 34-22 with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Byrd followed with a 3-pointer for Concordia to pull the Bulldogs back within nine at 34-25, but Alex Knobbe scored in the lane to push the Midland lead back to 11 with less than a minute to play. Midland settled for a 36-26 lead at halftime.
Following the hot start, it was a rough final 15 minutes offensively for the Bulldogs. Concordia finished with eight turnovers and just five assists in the half while connecting on 10-of-23 shots from the field for 43.5 percent. Midland was 15-of-25 from the field (including 4-of-8 shooting from deep) in the opening half for 60 percent. Midland had 12 assists on their 15 first half baskets. Knobbe was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for a team-best 10 points for the Warriors. Byrd was the lone bright spot for Concordia with 11 first half points.
It was more of the same early in the second half, as Midland scored the first four points to take a 40-26 lead. A three point play by Birtell cut into the lead, but Ben Imig and Marcus Messersmith answered with long jumpers to force a Concordia timeout with 15 minutes remaining in regulation. The Warriors held a 47-33 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Midland led 52-35 at the 10-minute mark. Charles Dunbar (St. Louis, Mo.) scored for Concordia, but a three point play by Zach Rosenboom gave Midland a 55-37 lead. Another Warrior 3-pointer increased the lead to 21 at 58-37 with six minutes to play. Concordia pulled back within 12 (63-51) on a 3-pointer by Adam Vogt (Syracuse, Neb.) with 1:43 remaining. Another 3-pointer by Vogt made the score 65-54, but Concordia would get no closer.
The Warriors were 26-of-50 from the field in the win for 52 percent. Midland connected on 6-of-14 shots from deep (42.9 percent) and 12-of-14 free throws for 85.7 percent. Midland had 19 assists with only nine turnovers on the evening. The Warriors held a 29-25 rebounding advantage in the contest. Knobbe finished with a team-high 13 points for Midland offensively. Imig and Rosenboom added 11 apiece, while Avery Langford chipped in with 10 points off the bench for a balanced Warrior attack.
Birtell finished with a game-high 18 points for Concordia in the loss. Birtell was 6-of-8 from the field and 6-of-9 at the foul line. Byrd was held scoreless in the second half and finished with 11 points. Joel Haywood (Lakewood, Colo.) scored nine on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for the Bulldogs.
Concordia hosts Morningside College on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Walz Human Performance Complex.