ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (12/5/15) ---Concordia continued their brutal road stretch to start MIAC play as they dropped their second straight game to a top 3 conference opponent.
The Cobbers trailed the majority of the contest at Bethel but then managed to get the game within six points in the final two minutes and lost 75-66. The Royals went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the last 1:20 of the game to put the game on ice.
Bench production and points off of turnovers proved to be the key as the Royals bench outscored Concordia's non-starters 30-12 and scored 18 points off of turnovers compared to the Cobbers' six points.
The Royals remain perfect on the year, improving to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in conference while the Cobbers fall below .500 at 3-4 overall.
Concordia jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the first 90 seconds. Tom Fraase back cut his defender for the easy layup and then found Brady Syverson for the lefty hook on the following possession.
The teams came up empty on the next six possessions and then Fraase canned his first triple of the game off a double screen to push the lead to 12-8 with 14:31 to play in the opening half.
Aden Casey then sparked a Royal run. He broke out in transition for a layup then got a quick steal on the ensuing possession and found freshman Derek Magnuson for the elbow jumper to tie the game.
Trevor Hall, Jared Nelson and Casey connected on 3-pointer's on consecutive possessions and a few minutes later Bethel found themselves ahead 30-17.
Fraase answered a three-minute scoreless drought with a layup and Austin Nelson hit a wing-jumper a minute later to cut the deficit to 32-21.
Casey hit another long ball before Fraase caught fire at the end of the half. The Bismarck native drilled triples on back-to-back possessions to give the Cobbers some life heading into the intermission.
The Royals took a 41-27 lead into the half.
Bethel scored the first four points of the second half off a Bridgeport Tusler transition layup and another elbow jumper from Magnuson to give the Royals a 45-27 lead.
For the following eight possessions the two teams would exchange baskets. Nelson canned a 3-pointer then found Fraase on a back-cut. On the following possession Fraase dropped in another three of his game-high 22 points that made it 52-39.
Fraase took 17 shots from the floor, connecting on nine of them, including 4-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The Royals continued to outshoot Concordia. Nelson and Hall dialed and connected from long-distance on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 58-46.
Concordia connected of 6-of-15 shots from 3-point range, but Bethel knocked down 10-of-21 triples taken in the contest.
The Cobbers continued to chip away at the Royals lead late. Nelson and Bolger scored on back-to-back possessions and then Bolger drilled his first trifecta of the season to make it 70-63 with 2:55 to play.
Zach Kinny knocked down a free throw that made it 70-64 but Concordia would get no closer.
DIALED IN: Tom Fraase poured in 22 points on Saturday, a season-high and the second most point total in his career. The sharpshooter has now totaled 20+ points three times in his career.
THE DAILY DOUBLE: Jordan Bolger did not necessarily have his way offensively on the block on Saturday but he still managed to contribute. The 6-6 senior went 3-for-9 from the field and finished with 11 points but he also hauled down 11 boards. With his eight rebounds in Wednesday's game at St. Thomas Bolger eclipsed the 500-rebound barrier for his career. With his 11-and-11 performance, Bolger also recorded the 11th double-double of his career.
WHAT'S NEXT? The schedule does not get any easier in the near future. The Cobbers will travel to Northfield to take on a battle-tested St. Olaf squad on Wednesday. The Oles sit at 2-3 overall, but traveled to defending national champion Wis.-Stevens Point and dropped a tightly contested 68-65 game to the Pointers.