MOORHEAD, Minn. (2/14/15)—For the second time in the past three years Concordia used Memorial Magic to pull off an improbable upset over top 2-ranked St. Thomas.
In 2013 the Tommies were ranked No.1 in the country and the Cobbers won 54-52. The Tommies entered Saturday's game ranked No.2 in the nation and on a 16-game winning streak. Concordia proceeded to use a hard-nosed defense, the second half scoring of Jordan Bolger and the huge heart of Ryan Rude to come away with a 72-66 victory.
Bolger scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half and Rude refused to let the Cobbers get out of reach in the first half and finished with a season-high 14 points.
Not only is the win a big lift for the Cobbers' confidence but it is a huge shot in the arm for their playoff hopes. Concordia is now 10-7 in league play and still in sole possession of fifth place. CC is still only two games out of third place but now is a full two games ahead of seventh place with only three games remaining in the regular season. The Cobbers are now 14-8 in all games and assure themselves of a winning season record for the fourth time in the past six seasons.
St. Thomas (20-2/15-2 MIAC) was in control of the entire first half and threatened to run away with the game on a trio of occasions. The Tommies held an 11-point lead three times during the first 20 minutes of play and each time Concordia was able to come up with huge baskets to get the lead under double digits.
The second half started the same way with St. Thomas entering the final half with a 40-31 lead. UST would push its lead back to 11 points with 17:19 to play but then the Cobbers caught fire and started to limit the Tommie offense.
Concordia went on a 13-2 run and tied the game at 48-48 with 12:11 remaining. The run was finished off courtesy of Rude who made a traditional 3-point play and then put the crowd on its feet with a long-distance shot to bring the teams even.
Concordia Final Possessions and Postgame Celebration vs. St. Thomas
For the final 12 minutes of play the score would be tied five different times and the lead would change on five different occasions. The Tommies took the biggest advantage of the final stretch when they got inside for a lay-up to grab a five-point lead at 64-59 with 4:53 to play. A pair of Brandon Giese 3-pointers and suddenly the Cobbers were in the lead with 3:02 left in regulation.
The decisive stretch came in the final minute of play. With the score tied at 66-66, Concordia was able to get a turnover and then Bolger drained a jumper from the free throw line to put CC up by two with 31-seconds remaining in regulation. St. Thomas then missed a good look from in close before Bolger closed it out with an uncontested lay-up. Giese finished off the scoring with a pair of free throws and the Cobbers had once again pulled off a top-2 upset.
The shooting stats were very even for the two teams. Concordia shots 52.8% (28-for-53) from the floor and 43.8% (7-for-16) from 3-point range while St. Thomas made 42.1% (25-for-58) of their shots from the field and 57.1% (8-for-14) of their tries from outside the arc. The Tommies made nine free throws as compared to eight for CC.
Concordia's defense was once again able to force at least 10 turnovers while the offense only committed seven miscues. It is the second straight game that CC has had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game and fourth time in the last five games that has happened.
The Cobbers held a 30-16 advantage in points in the paint. Bolger's 20 points accounted for a majority of that statistic while senior Scott Flotterud had eight points. Bolger finished with a game-high nine rebounds while Flotterud shipped in five.
Rude was 5-for-7 from the floor and posted his second double-digit point total in the past five games. He didn't score in double figures in the team's first 17 games.
Giese and Tom Fraase both had 11 points to give the Cobbers four starters in double figures in scoring.
Concordia will now enter the final week of the regular season needing a combination of two wins or two losses by Augsburg to clinch a spot in the MIAC playoffs. CC will start their postseason trek on Monday, Feb. 16 when they play at Carleton at 7 p.m.