MOORHEAD, Minn. (1/07/15)—Concordia led for the final 30 minutes in extending a pair of winning streaks with a decisive 80-72 victory over Bethel. The Cobbers used a 14-1 run in the first half to win their fourth straight game and beat the Royals for the third straight time in Moorhead.
Concordia's seventh overall win of the year was cemented at the free throw line where the Cobbers went 20-for-30 from the foul line – including 13-for-18 in the final five minutes of play. The 18 free throws in the final five minutes were two less than Bethel had in the entire game.
The Cobbers' four-game winning streak has taken the team from 10th place in the MIAC standings all the way to a tie for fourth place. CC is now 3-2 in league play and 7-3 overall. The last time Concordia was four games over the .500 mark was in the middle of the 2012-13 season.
Concordia scored 36 points in the decisive second half – 20 of which came at the free throw line. CC entered the game with a 62.6% free throw percentage but proceeded to shoot 66.7% (20-for-30) in the final 20 minutes of play.
The game-changing first-half run came after the teams traded baskets for the first 9:42 of play. The game was tied five times in the first half of the opening period. The Cobbers went on the 14-1 run by going 4-for-4 from behind the arc and making all five shots they hoisted towards the hoop. On the other end, Bethel went 0-for-3 from the field and 1-for-2 from the free throw line.
Concordia reestablished their tempo of play at the start of the second half. CC turned a nine-point edge at the break into a 14-point lead by scoring six of the first seven points of the period.
The Royals (7-3/3-2 MIAC) would make one full push midway through the second half. Bethel cut the lead to four points on two occasions but then a jumper and free throw by Jordan Bolger coupled with a 3-point field goal from Brandon Giese pushed the led to double digits and the Cobbers would never let the Royals get closer than six points for the final 5:57 of the second period.
Concordia vs. Bethel Highlights - Jan. 7, 2014
The Cobbers wound up shooting 49.0% (25-for-51) from the floor and 46.7% (7-for-15) from 3-point range for game. It is the fifth time this year that CC has shot at least 40.0% from both the floor and outside the arc. Concordia is now 4-1 when they are able to post at least 40.0% shooting percentages from the field and 3-point range.
Concordia was led by the outside-inside tandem of Giese and Bolger. Giese was 12-for-12 from the free throw line in the second half and finished with 19 points. He also had a game-high three steals. Bolger put up 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to record his third double-double of the season and second in the past three games.
One of the key factors in the Cobber win was the ability to get significant scoring output from their point guards. Freshman Zach Kinny had a career-high 10 points and senior Ryan Rude tied a season high with seven points.
Concordia will put their four-game winning streak on the line when they play at No.5-ranked St. Thomas on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. The Tommies are tied for the conference lead with a 5-1 record.