Return of the Mac
2.5 months ago I predicted last nights game between Concordia and Macalester to be the one to watch for the men's Basketball team. After last years 185 point explosion on campus in Moorhead, I was hoping for an encore. The guy's game fell short of that high bar but that game and it's precursor were far from disappointing.
After two quarters the Cobbers women seemed to be on track for another one sided loss. The memo never reached the players though, as they closed the game to a single point going into the fourth. Hawley's Mira Ellefson lead the way on the comeback trail with 10 points in the second half but that still left them in a tug-of-war on the scoreboard.
With seconds left in the game, Macalester was up two but Concordia had the ball and the hero of the game went to work. The ball moved swiftly from player to player before landing in the open hands of Rachel Hoernemann who made the play to tie the game at 60 with under 10 seconds left. As if that wasn't enough, a couple steps pass mid court she was hounding the ball handler. As had happened several times already in the game, the pressure defense caused problems for the visitors and Hoernemann finished on the steal. But instead of dribbling it out to get to overtime, she had enough space to take the ball all the way to the hoop for the final score of the game. Four game changing points off the bench. It was the sort of moment that make sports so special!
And that was just game one, the main event was yet to come.
As if last year's game wasn't enough to juice the two teams, each had players from the area to bring fans into Memorial Auditorium. The guys game had echos of the one before, with Concordia starting slowly & falling behind. The Cobbers didn't wait until the second half to spring their comeback thanks in large part to the play of Bryden Urie & Collin Larson. In a stark contrast of styles, Macalester went 13 players deep while Concordia got all their offense from the starters and only 30 minutes of play time went the way of the bench. That tops the short list of oddities in the game but the most unusual thing that I saw was that Mac never tried for rebounds on free throws. It was clearly more important to the coach to talk to his players instead of try for the ball on missed shots. I don't know if I've ever it but that was just a little bit of bonus information to think about during the game.
So the game was knotted at 35 at the half, and the dog fight was just getting started. Urie & Larson were both limited in their effectiveness over the final 20 minutes of the game, especially Larson as Urie got to 9 points in the final frame. To pick up the slack, Concordia turned to Jordan Davis who chipped in 14 big points to keep his team in the game. Fittingly it was Davis whose mid-range game put the Cobbers up four with under a minute remaining in the game. As with the game before, it was again closed to a one shot lead after a big three by Macalester's Jackson Henningfield. Concordia looked to answer but came up empty, which gave the visitors a chance to even the slate of game winning shots. With time winding down, the Cobbers responded with defense that was every bit as tenacious by the guys as it had been by the gals, forcing a shot that went nowhere to seal their victory
It wasn't an offensive explosion, not even close. It took nearly 30 minutes of play for the teams to combine for half as many points as last year but both games still managed to be every bit as exciting as they could have been. My predicting prowess will be tested again when St. Olaf comes to town a month from now for the ladies, In the meantime, it was a doubleheader the likes of which may not be seen on the little campus in Moorhead again this year!