MOORHEAD, Minn. (2/1/17) --- The calendar rolled over to February and the six remaining game on the schedule suddenly take on the feeling of "must wins" in order to make the conference playoffs.
That was the case on Wednesday when sixth-place Concordia battled seventh-place Augsburg with only one-half game separating the teams in the standings.
Concordia responded by having four of five starters score in double figures as they outscored Augsburg 47-35 in the second half and won 81-68.
Dylan Alderman scored 15 of his game-high 20 points after the break to pace the Cobbers. Austin Heins and Austin Nelson each added 14 points while Zach Kinny recorded his first career double-double by chipping in 10 points and snagging 10 rebounds.
The Cobbers improve to 11-8 overall and 9-7 in league games and are in a two-way tie with Hamline for fifth place in the league standings. Augsburg slips to 8-11 overall and 6-8 in MIAC games and is now a 1.5 games out of the sixth, and final, playoff spot.
Heading into the break the game was still a toss-up. The opening 20 minutes featured three ties and 10 lead changes but CC entered the half leading 34-33 thanks to a late bucket from Kinny – a lead they would never relinquish.
The Cobbers opened up the second half on a 12-2 run. They scored on five of the first seven trips down the floor – capped by a Collin Larson triple - to force an Auggie timeout.
After a transition layup with eight minutes left, Augsburg managed to chip the score down to five points at 55-50.
Austin Rund answered on the other end of the floor by netting a 3-pointer to push the lead back up to eight points.
The Auggies missed a layup on the other end and Alderman peeled out and finished through contact, then stepped to the foul line and completed the old-fashioned 3-point play to push the lead back to 11 points.
Minutes later Augsburg inched closer with a jumper from Collin Olmscheid to cut the deficit to six points - but Nelson had the answer. He drilled a deep 3-ball to push the lead back to nine points.
The Auggies played the fouling game over the last four minutes with Concordia already in the bonus. The Cobbers hit nine free throws down the stretch to keep Augsburg at bay to hold on for the win.
CC dominated the glass from start to finish. The Cobbers outrebounded Augsburg 42-25 and scored 24 points in the paint compared to the Auggies' 14 points.
Concordia was nearly equal in percentages of shooting the basketball. CC outshot Augsburg 48.3% - 45.8% by going 28-of-58 compared to 27-of-59 – and both teams knocked down six trifectas.
The Auggies actually outshot the Cobbs from the foul line by a couple percentage points – however, Concordia made 16 more trips to the stripe than their opponent.
CC went 19-of-27 from the charity stripe while Augsburg went just 8-of-11.
Alderman made his way the free throw line just as many times as Augsburg's roster did on Wednesday night. The Fargo native went 8-for-11 for the game.
Concordia also limited the conference's second leading scorer to just 11 points. Olmscheid had his way with the Cobbers the first go-around as he pumped in 28 points. He entered the night averaging over 20 points per game but the stingy Cobbers forced him to shoot 4-for-11 from the floor.
HAPPY AT THE HALF – Concordia improves to 9-1 in games where they take a lead into the locker room at the half.
SENIOR STRONG – Wednesday was the seventh time this season the senior trio of Nelson, Kinny and Alderman all scored in double figures on the same night. Concordia is 5-2 when they accomplish the feat.
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS – The Cobber "bigs" did their job on Wednesday as CC dominated the rebound column on the stat sheet. After outrebounding Augsburg by 17 boards, the Cobbers have now outrebounded their opponent 14 times in 20 games this season. They have been outrebounded in just five contests.
FREE THROW FANATIC: Dylan Alderman continues to lead the MIAC in getting to the free throw line. Alderman got to the foul line 11 times on Wednesday and has now put up 152 free throw attempts this season. That is 22 more than the next best player in the league. His total is also 14th most in Division III this year.
WHAT'S NEXT? Concordia will wrap up a tough stretch of five conference games in 11 days on Saturday at Macalester. The Scots had Wednesday off from competition and currently sit at 7-12 overall and 3-11 overall. Macalester nipped the Cobbers 70-65 two weeks ago in Moorhead.
CONCORDIA vs. AUGSBURG HIGHLIGHTS: