Concordia men 80 Augsburg 74
Concordia took an early 11-4 lead as 6-6 senior forward John Fraase hit 3 high-arching fall-away jump shots. Augsburg took its 1st lead of the night at 13-12 and then stretched it to 17-13 as 6-4 junior forward Cory Polta powered his way to the rim for 5 of the Auggies 1st 6 buckets.
Concordia took the lead back--for good, as it turned out--at 18-17 on reserve Erik Lien's only bucket of the 1st half, and the lead got into double figures for the 1st time 4 minutes later at 29-19 on another Fraase hoop.
Augsburg got within 32-26 at 0:57 but turned the ball over inside 10 seconds. Yet another Fraase hoop on a steal and assist by Karl Olson made it 35-26 at the half.
Polta scored 16 of the Auggies' 26 1st half points as his teammates shot 2-for-15. Fraase scored 10 and had plenty of help as the Cobbers shot 58 percent from the field.
Augsburg finally got senior Matthew Quammen and junior Andy Grzesiak-Grimm going for 9 points between them to bring the Auggies within 37-36 at 16:36. Then Quammen missed a 3, the only shot of the 2nd half that could have given the Auggies the lead. Concordia steadily widened its lead to 49-40 and back into double figures at 58-48. The closest Augsburg would get was at 78-74, but that was with just 0:15 left to play.
Augsburg won the possession game with 10 offensive boards to 7, and just 7 turnovers to 11, but Concordia simply out-shot them 50 percent to 40 from the field.
Fraase finished with 25 points and 11 boards for the Cobbers. Fellow senior Darren Olmscheid, whom you may remember from Buffalo's 2007 state AAAA champions, is the 2nd option, also mostly on the inside. The 2 of them got to the FT line 19 times and made 15 between them. 6-4 junior Ebo Nana-Kweson, a junior from Coon Rapids, is explosive on the dribble drive but a little careless protecting the basketball. 6-4 senior Erik Lien scored 10 points off the bench. Concordia's guards try hard not to get in anybody's way.
Polta was a man among boys at times and finished with 20 and 10 and 3 assists for the Auggies. He got lots of help in the 2nd half as Quammen finished with 18 points and Grzesiak-Grimm and junior Brett Sorenson with 12 each. Freshman point guard Parker Hines failed to score and turned it over 3 times.
All in all, the Augsburg offense seemed a bit out of sorts, their shots a little hurried, other than when Polta was operating down low. The idea that Augsburg assisted on 19 of 26 buckets, and Concordia on just 11 of 25 seems entirely at odds with the Cobbers superior ball movement. With an assist edge of 19-11, you'd guess that Augsburg got more assists on Polta's 9 buckets than the Concordia did on Fraase's 8 which, again, seems wrong. Even inside of 8 feet, Fraase is a catch-and-shoot type of scorer while Polta puts it on the deck and backs it down until he's at point blank range.
Without looking at the stat sheet, Polta was the more impressive of the 2, but Fraase ended up with 5 more points on 4 fewer shots, plus 1 more rebound, so he's our MVP.
Concordia women 71 Augsburg 45
This one was over at the opening tip, we just didn't know it yet. Augsburg shot 18 percent in the 1st half, 29 percent for the game, and turned the ball over 28 times. Concordia led 15-0, 24-2 and 36-8 before the Auggies scored the last 5 points of the 1st half.
The Concordia lead got back to 28 points at 50-22 at about 13:30 and peaked at 66-31 at 6:20. Augsburg scored the last 7 points of the game to make the final closer than it really was.
4 of Concordia's starters are seniors who have won 55 MIAC games, up through and including this one, while losing just 17. The coaches picked them to finish 3rd, but at the moment they're 6-0 and tied with St. Thomas for 1st place, a half-game ahead of St. Ben's. They're at St. Ben's on Saturday, and get St. Thomas at home next Wednesday, so the MIAC pecking order will shortly clarify itself for the time being.
The bottom line is Concordia doesn't do anything spectacular, and they make darn sure their opponent doesn't either. They move the ball, they move without the ball, they space the floor, they're like clockwork. After 6-4 freshman post Alexandra Lippert, the tallest starter is 5-9. Guards Erica Nord and Lindsay Schultz really make it happen, averaging 14 and 9 points and sharing 6 assists between them while Schultz, who is 5-9, is the top rebounder at 7 per game. Nord scored 15 tonight while Schultz scored 8 with 7 assists.
Senior forward Maggie Baurenfeind is next averaging 11 points, 6 boards and 2 assists. Last night she had a tough time, leaving the game at one point with a bloody nose and finishing with 7 points. Sophomores Tricia Sorenson and Emily Thesing are solid reserves who contributed 20 points, 12 boards and 9 assists (all 9 going to Thesing) between them.
But the key to their success overall may be Lippert who is averaging 7 points and 6 boards but last night had 10 points, all in the 1st half, and 8 boards. We'll see how she does against the MIAC's strongest posts, Heather Gillund of St. Ben's and Rachel Booth and Maggie Weiers of St. Thomas. Last year Concordia was upset in the 1st round of the MIAC playoffs, losing to #6 seeded St. Kate's at home as the Wildcats pounded the ball inside, shot 54 percent from the field and protected the ball. All of which were things that Augsburg simply couldn't do tonight.