MOORHEAD, Minn. (12/28/12)— Andrew Martinson celebrated his 22nd birthday by scoring a team-high 18 points and leading Concordia to a 73-65 win over Bethel in the conference opener for both teams.
Martinson, whose birthday was on Wednesday, went 6-for-10 from the floor but was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. He was a part of the Cobber free-throw resurgence that saw Concordia go 23-for-27 from the foul line. CC entered the game shooting just 58.1% from the free throw line in their first four games of the year but then connected on 85.2% of their attempts against the Royals. The Cobbers put the game out of reach in the second half when they connected on 14 of their final 15 free throw shots.
Concordia (3-2/1-0 MIAC) eased out to an 11-point lead halfway through the first half before Bethel slowly crept back to within single digits and ultimately cut the lead to just three points at the end of the first half when JD Robinson connected on a 3-point field goal in the final seconds of play.
The game would stay within two points until the midway point of the second half. That's when the Cobbers went on an 11-2 run to turn a 48-46 lead into a game-winning 59-48 margin. During that stretch Concordia went 3-for-7 from the floor but made all five of their free throw attempts. On the other end of the court, Bethel went 2-for-5 from the field.
The closest Bethel would come down the stretch was at the end of the game when they made the final basket of the contest and lost by eight points.
The biggest statistical difference came around the basket. Concordia held a decisive 39-22 advantage in rebounding.
The other eye-opening stat of the game came from points off the bench. The Royals got only two points from their non-starters. The Cobbers held a 41-2 edge in points scored by reserve players.
Concordia had four players score in double digits on the night. In addition to Martinson's 18 points from off the bench, Ebo Nana-Kweson had 14 points and six rebounds while Jason Huus and Scott Flotterud each added 12 points. Aaron Lindahl had a team-high eight rebounds for CC.
The Cobbers ended the game by shooting 45.0% (23-for-50) from the floor and 25.0% (4-for-16) from outside the arc. CC won the game on the free throw line with their season-high 85.2% shooting rate. The Royals took two more field goal attempts and shot a similar 42.3% from the field but had their shooting touch go cold from 3-point range where they made just one of their 10 attempts. BU was 20-for-26 from the foul line.
Bethel (2-2/0-1 MIAC) was led by senior Taylor Hall who finished with a game-high 28 points. Oddly enough, it is the first time he has been held to under 30 points this season. He also had a team-high eight rebounds.
Concordia will hit the road for a pair of conference games on Saturday and Monday. The Cobbers will play at Augsburg on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. and then head east to St. Paul to take on No.8-ranked St. Thomas on Dec. 3 at 7:45 p.m.