Pazdernik scores a dozen in Cobbers’ victory
Former Laker and starting sophomore forward Jacob Pazdernik scored a career-high dozen points as the Concordia Cobbers erased a three-point halftime deficit to give head coach Grant Hemmingsen an 80-71 win over Minn.-Morris in the season opener.
Hemmingsen was named the Concordia head coach for the 2017-18 on Dec. 19 and Hollywood couldn't have written a much better script for his first collegiate game.
"We had guys that had to step in because of foul trouble and step up to their role," said Hemmingsen. "It was a lot of passion, a lot of effort and they just stayed with it and executed. That was huge for us and it was a great start to the season."
The game turned into a stop-start, foul and free throw contest. The teams combined for 55 fouls and shot 65 free throws. Three players fouled out in the game, including Pazdernik, and three others finished with four fouls.
It was a tale of two halves for the Cobber offense. Concordia scored 31 points, shot 46.4% (13-for-28) from the field and 22.2% (2-for-9) from 3-point range in the first half and then went off for 49 points and shot 60.0% (15-for-25) from the floor and 50.0% (5-for-10) from long range in the second period of play.
The Cobbers trailed 34-31 at the break but then used a 10-1 run starting at the 14:44 mark to turn a three-point edge into a 12-point advantage. During that stretch CC went 4-for-4, including a pair of 3-pointers, and held the Cougars to a single foul shot in five trips down the floor.
The Concordia defense also limited Morris to just 1-for-13 (7.7%) shooting from outside the arc in the second half.
Senior big man Austin Heins was a difference maker for Concordia. Morris was unable to handle his size inside and Heins went for a team-high 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He was 7-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-8 from the free throw line.
Heins was one of four starters to finish in double figures for the game. Pazdernik's 12 points eclipses his old mark of seven which he had last year at St. Thomas.
Hemmingsen becomes the second straight Cobber coach to win his debut game for Concordia. Former coach Rich Glas won his Cobber opener in 2008. Glas also beat Minn.-Morris for his first win in maroon and gold.
Concordia will continue its non-conference slate against UMAC opponents when it travels to Mankato to take on Bethany Lutheran on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. The Vikings lost 85-82 to Buena Vista in their season opener on Wednesday.