SEWARD, Neb. – Freshly ranked as the No. 2 team in NAIA Division II, Morningside came out blistering hot and rode that start to a 77-70 victory over the Concordia University men’s basketball team inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night (Nov. 28). The Mustangs made 5-of-7 attempts from long range to begin the game, but then had to withstand a second half push by the Bulldogs after the well ran dry.
The fight displayed after digging a big early hole is something sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad can build upon. Concordia now stands at 6-4 overall and at 1-4 in conference play.
“They were on fire in the first half,” Limback said. “I didn’t like the way we were playing defensively inside against them. We fouled them a lot in the first half. It was close, but not close enough. We have to get better and we have to execute better if we expect to beat these types of teams.”
Morningside (8-0, 5-0 GPAC) may even be a national title contender in the 15th season of Jim Sykes’ head coaching tenure. The Mustangs certainly looked the part while blowing open a 27-11 lead by the 12:01 mark of the first half. Sophomore guard Zach Imig was feeling it. He poured in 11 of his team’s first 22 points. Morningside never trailed at any point on this particular night, but it got tight down the stretch.
Trailing 70-59 with less than 3:30 left on the clock, the feisty Bulldogs mustered up a 7-0 run with the first five points being rattled off by Tanner Shuck. Ryan Holt then added the sixth and seventh points of the spurt by intercepting a pass and then finishing a layup in traffic. Suddenly, Concordia’s upset hopes had sprung to life with if facing just a four-point deficit (70-66).
Alex Borchers then surfaced with the biggest bucket of the night. He buried a dagger of a triple from the left corner. After Chuol Biel slammed home a two-handed dunk, Tyler Borchers sealed the game with a three-point play in the closing minute. The 6-foot-7 Tyler Borchers is arguably the top post player in the league. He finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Said Limback, “They’re a very good defensive team. They’re No. 2 in the country for a reason. We have to get better at taking care of the ball.”
Shuck is developing into one of the GPAC’s most prolific scorers. He led all players with 22 points while going 7-for-14 from the floor. He added one of the night’s biggest highlights by smothering a shot attempt against the backboard on a breakaway. Carter Kent enjoyed a fine night, adding 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Brevin Sloup (12 points, seven rebounds) also surpassed double digits in scoring.
The Mustangs cooled off from 56.0 percent shooting in the first half to a 42.9 percent clip in the second half. Imig led his squad with 19 points and four steals. Alex Borchers chipped in 10 points and three steals. The seven-point margin of victory actually represented the closest contest Morningside has played through eight games.
The Bulldogs will dip back outside of conference play on Saturday when they will host National Christian College Athletic Association Member Nebraska Christian College (3-5). Tipoff from Walz Arena is set for 4 p.m. CT. Concordia is 5-0 so far against nonconference opponents.