MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/15/17)---Grant Hemmingsen was named the Concordia head coach for the 2017-18 on Dec. 19 and Hollywood couldn't have written a much better script for his first collegiate game.
The Cobbers erased a three-point halftime deficit with their hard work, passion and offensive execution to give Hemmingsen an 80-71 win over Minn.-Morris in the very first game of the season.
"We had guys that had to step in because of foul trouble and step up to their role," said Hemmingsen. "It was a lot of passion, a lot of effort and they just stayed with it and executed. That was huge for us and it was a great start to the season."
The game turned into a stop-start, foul and free throw contest. The teams combined for 55 fouls and shot 65 free throws. Three players fouled out in the game and three others finished with four fouls.
It was a tale of two halves for the Cobber offense. Concordia scored 31 points, shot 46.4% (13-for-28) from the field and 22.2% (2-for-9) from 3-point range in the first half and then went off for 49 points and shot 60.0% (15-for-25) from the floor and 50.0% (5-for-10) from long range in the second period of play.
The Cobbers trailed 34-31 at the break but then used a 10-1 run starting at the 14:44 mark to turn a three-point edge into a 12-point advantage. During that stretch CC went 4-for-4, including a pair of 3-pointers, and held the Cougars to a single foul shot in five trips down the floor.
The Concordia defense also limited Morris to just 1-for-13 (7.7%) shooting from outside the arc in the second half.
The Cobbers shot 52.8% (28-for-53) from the floor and 36.8% (7-for-19) from 3-point range for the game. Morris connected on 32.3% (21-for-65) of their shots from the field and 23.1% (6-for-26) from outside the arc.
Concordia was able to overcome a six-point deficit at the free throw line. The Cobbers made 17of their 30 (56.7%) foul attempts while Morris went 23-for-35 (65.7%).
Senior big man Austin Heins was a difference maker for Concordia. Morris was unable to handle his size inside and Heins went for a team-high 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He was 7-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-8 from the free throw line.
Heins was one of four starters to finish in double figures for the game. Sophomore forward Jacob Pazdernik scored 12 points while the guard tandem of Collin Larson and Thomas Schyma each had 11 points. Both players did their damage in the second half. Larson scored 10 of his 11 points in the second period and Schyma put up nine if his 11 in the second half.
Jordan Davis and Andrew Holen came off the bench and both recorded a hard-nosed eight points. Davis was 3-for-4 from the floor while Holen was a perfect 4-for-4.
COBBER COACHING DEBUT WINNERS: Hemmingsen becomes the second straight Cobber coach to win his debut game for Concordia. Former coach Rich Glas won his Cobber opener in 2008. Glas also beat Minn.-Morris for his first win in maroon and gold.
DOUBLE DOUBLE DEBUT: Austin Heins recorded one double-double in all of last season and he equaled that feat in the opener vs. Morris. Heins scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Heins was one point shy of his career high for points and put up his career high in rebounds by one board. He had 20 points last year vs, Valley City St. and 10 rebounds against Bethel.
CAREER HIGH COBBERS: Joing Heins in posting a career-high point total in the season opener were Jacob Pazdernik, Collin Larson and Thomas Schyma. Pazdernik's 12 points eclipses his old mark of seven which he had last year at St. Thomas. Larson's previous career high was eight points and he recorded 11 vs. Morris while Schyma played in only three games last year and had two points at Hamline.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will continue its non-conference slate against UMAC opponents when it travels to Mankato to take on Bethany Lutheran on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. The Vikings lost 85-82 to Buena Vista in their season opener on Wednesday.
CONCORDIA vs. MINN.-MORRIS POSTGAME CELEBRATION/INTERVIEW:
CONCORDIA vs. MINN.-MORRIS HIGHLIGHTS: