Bradley Bennet makes a drive for the basket
Photo credit to Kayla Korb
By Darien Semedo
A strong performance by Gage Smith helped the Bulldogs pull away from the Briar Cliff Chargers in the second half of Wednesday night’s game for an 85-56 win.
The final home game of conference play for the Bulldogs did not disappoint. The game was tied at 30 at the half, but Concordia went on a 35-3 run early in the second half. Smith posted 22 points and 10 rebounds on the night, along with six assists, four coming in the extended run.
Smith and the Bulldogs have played hot heading into the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament, winning six of their last seven games. Smith said that he and the team have had a lot of confidence the last couple weeks while executing their offense.
“I feel like we have really figured out our offense. We get what we wanted. We have been playing with each other throughout the year,” Smith said. “I’m excited for the tournament.”
The Bulldogs started the game fast, going on an early 17-0 run before letting the Chargers back into it before the half. Assistant Coach Ryan Tegtmeier said the team relaxed too much on the offensive side of the ball and called on Smith to make plays in the second half.
“We had to a better job of getting some movement, and Gage did a really nice job initiating offense at the top of the key,” Tegtmeier said. “Our defensive effort was really good, which led to a lot of offense on the other end.”
Smith said the seniors talked about this being their last home game at Friedrich Arena.
“We always just want to finish strong, you know?” he said. “We came out and really wanted it. Last year we won on the buzzer beater, and we did not want to go 1-1 against them.”
Concordia held the Chargers to 35.8% from the field and 31% from 3-point line.
The team played with high energy and were vocal when playing their defensive scheme. On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs were hot from the 3-point line in the second half, going 10 of 17 and shooting 54.5% from the field overall. Concordia still found shots inside, scoring 48 points in the paint, compared with 18 for the Chargers.
The team finished with four starters scoring in the double figures, including 16 points from both Noah Schutte and Bradley Bennett.
As they prepare for their final game before the tournament, Tegtmeier added that the team is young and they are trying to improve daily.
“We are playing four freshmen right now; we are playing a lot of new faces, so right now there is a lot to improve on,” Tegtmeier said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on offensively and we’ve got to continue to share the ball and shoot with confidence.”