Bulldogs rally to win GPAC opener - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Bulldogs rally to win GPAC opener

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Concordia used a 15-5 run to end the game to pull out a 66-63 victory over Mount Marty in the GPAC opener for both teams on Saturday. Head coach Marty Kohlwey's Bulldogs, who fell 61-51 to the Lancers in last season's conference opener, came up big down the stretch to improve to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the GPAC.

Junior guard Adam Vogt's hard drive to the rack with 31 seconds remaining resulted in a 3-point play to edge Concordia out in front 63-60 and propel the Bulldogs to the winner's circle. However, Concordia could not breathe easy until Mount Marty's Joe Hieb's 35-foot bank shot at the buzzer hit the backboard and rimmed out.

"It was the upperclassmen leadership that was key," Kohlwey said. "You saw what Adam did with that big drive and foul shot when we were tied. We also had great senior leadership.

"We had a lot of great contributions from a lot of different guys. That's something we can take away from this and feel good about."

The Lancers appeared poised to get the road victory when a Chris Richardson steal and pass up court to Salidin Smith produced an easy two points and a 58-51 Mount Marty lead with 6:15 left in the game. The seven-point advantage following an 11-3 Lancer run was the largest lead of the game for either team.

The Bulldogs gutted out the win despite being outshot 44.6 percent to 37.5 percent. Concordia star senior post Porter Birtell tallied 10 of his game high 16 points in the second half. He added four points during the game-deciding final push while getting help from Vogt, who put up five of his 11 points in the last 31 seconds.

Senior forward Brent Houchin came off the bench to provide a personal season high of 13 points in 15 minutes of action. The native of Bruning, Neb., made 5-of-6 shots from the field, giving Concordia a reliable scoring option on an afternoon in which the Bulldogs struggled at times to find the bottom of the net.

Concordia overcame a below average shooting performance by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line. The Bulldogs went 19-for-28 from the charity stripe compared to 8-for-11 foul shooting by Mount Marty. Concordia also outrebounded the Lancers 40-32 and had 19 offensive rebounds.

"Our defense wasn't that great, but our rebounding was," Houchin said. "We had to keep them off the offensive rebound, because they got a lot of penetration on us. Our rebounding was probably what got us the win."

Kohlwey praised backup point guard Joey Werning for his ability to run the offense with starter Charles Dunbar saddled on the bench with foul trouble. Werning's only bucket ignited Concordia's 15-5 game-finishing run.

"Joey Werning played a huge game," Kolwey said. "The shot he hit at the elbow started the run that turned the game around."

Sophomore guard Joel Haywood enjoyed a big first half that included 11 points and 3-for-5 shooting from long range to help the Bulldogs gain a 32-31 advantage at the break. In a game that saw 20 lead changes, Concordia's largest lead was five.

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