ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/10/15) --- Senior Jordan Bolger made sure Concordia wouldn't need a third chance to clinch a playoff spot as he answered the bell against Hamline and helped Concordia clinch its second straight MIAC postseason berth.
The senior from Eastview scored a career-high 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds dished out seven assists and added a huge swat to help lift the Cobbers to an 88-79 win against the Pipers.
Concordia clinches a birth in the six-team MIAC tournament field and at the same time keeps pace with the league leaders. They now stand at 15-8 overall and 12-6 in conference while Hamline falls to 4-18 overall and 2-15 in league play.
CC raced out to a 10-4 lead after an Isaac Anderson inside hoop, but Hamline scored on four of their next five possessions that included a trio of 3-pointers to take a 15-12 lead with 12:11 to play in the opening 20 minutes.
The Pipers tied it at 36-36 with 3:38 in the first half but Concordia responded by scoring on the final four possessions of the half, including long balls from Tom Fraase and Austin Nelson to give the Cobbers a 46-39 lead at the intermission.
Both teams shot over 50% in the opening half. Concordia went 19-for-33 (57.6%) from the floor while Hamline shot 17-for-31 (54.8%). Each team went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Bolger was nearing a triple-double at halftime. He had scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting and added eight rebounds and six assists while playing all 20 minutes.
Heins was impressive off the bench for the Cobbers. The sophomore saw extended minutes due to an injury to senior Brady Syverson and made the most of his opportunity. He shot 4-for-5 in the first half and had a career-high eight points by the half. Heins finished with his first career double-digit scoring game as he ended with 10 points.
The Pipers cut the lead early in the second half to just five points, but Anderson, making his second career start, went on a quick 6-0 run with an elbow jumper and a pair of inside buckets.
Bolger scored at the 15:25 mark to make it 57-47, but went on a scoreless drought for nearly four minutes. He ended that streak at 11:41 when he knocked down a jumper to make it a five-point game.
Hamline's Bret Lukes tried to keep the Pipers in it by scoring seven straight but Bolger countered with eight of the next 16 for the Cobbers.
Forced to play the fouling game down the stretch, Hamline was forced to foul one of the top throw shooters in the MIAC – Dylan Alderman.
Coming off an ankle injury from the previous game, Alderman had been more of a distributor throughout the contest. At the 4:50 mark of the second half he headed to the charity stripe with four points, but went a perfect 10-for-10 down the stretch to end up with 14 points and hold off the Pipers.
CC shot 58.9% (33-of-56), including 5-of-13 (38.5%) from distance and 17-of-21 (81%) from the foul line.
Concordia was outrebounded 31-28 by Hamline, but outscored the Pipers 38-26 in the paint and used an 18-7 difference in bench points to their advantage.
DOING WELL IN THE M-V-P PRIMARIES
If Jordan Bolger was a politician he would have scored big wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Since he plays in the MIAC he is stating a pretty impressive case to be the league's MVP candidate. Bolger went off for a career-high 32 points on 14-of-19 shooting and came close to achieving a triple-double for the second time this season. The two-time MIAC Player of the Week has now scored in double figures in all 21 games he has played this season and has seven double-doubles. He is averaging a league best 19.2 points per game in MIAC games to go along with 8.8 rebounds (second in the league). Bolger is also leading the conference in field goals made and minutes per game. If Bolger were to be named the conference's top player, he would be the first Cobber to garner the honor since Luke Linz did so in the 2008-09 campaign.
ICE RUNS IN HIS VEINS
There aren't many other players you'd rather trust with the basketball in the closing minutes than Dylan Alderman. The Fargo-Shanley product went a perfect 10-for-10 from the stipe and 8-for-8 in the game's waning minutes. He is 39-for-43 from the foul line in the final four minutes, and in overtime, of games this season. He is shooting 88.8% from the line for the season, which is second in the conference (he has shot eight more free throws than the top player in the league, who has an average of 93.1%).
BIG GUYS STEPPING UP BIG
With the absence of Brady Syverson, Isaac Anderson and Austin Heins stepped up in a big way for the Cobbers in a must-win game. They combined for 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting in 40 minutes split between them.
The win at Hamline secured the program's tenth season with 15 wins or more in its 93-year history. The current class of eight seniors has been part of three of those 15+ win seasons.
Concordia will travel to Collegeville to take on the Johnnies in one of the biggest games of the season. The Johnnies (16-6 overall/11-6 MIAC) are currently 0.5 games back of the Cobbers in the league standings and are coming off a one-point loss to conference champion St. Thomas on Saturday. CC beat SJU 83-65 back on January 9, but Concordia has lost the last two seasons at St. John's.
BONUS – SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last three games at St. John's have been decided by exactly three points. Last season the Johnnies nipped Concordia 79-76. The year before that it was 71-68. The Cobbers went down to Collegeville and defeated SJU 70-67 in the 2013-14 season.