Misfires mess up Finlandia

HANCOCK – Like many of the cars in the parking lot afterward probably did on such a cold night, the Finlandia men’s basketball team’s offense didn’t start well and ran rough Monday, and it was no way to get past Concordia (Wis.).

The visiting Falcons led wire-to-wire and pulled away late for the 86-64 win at Paavo Nurmi Gym.

“I think sometimes when the ball goes in, you look like your execution is a lot better, but sometimes you can execute and not make the shots. You can get everything going except the finish,” Lions coach Terry Smith said.

Finlandia (2-13) fell short of 50 percent from three-point range, from two-point range and even from the free-throw line, though it played well enough defensively to remain in contention until a 19-1 run in the latter stages of the second half snuffed their chances.

“We didn’t take advantage of chances we had, like finishing around the basket, free throws, and too many turnovers,” Smith said.

Concordia knocked down three treys (including a four-point play) and an and-one in the first 5 1/2 minutes. On the other end, Finlandia had eight points in the same span and went 1-for-6 from the line, leading to an 11-point gap.

Finlandia pulled to within three with help from triples by Brandon Robinson and Keith Arnold, only to stutter again as Concordia made a 10-1 run midway through the half leading to a 41-29 margin at the break.

The resurgence of post bruiser Dominic Morrow in the middle of the second half gave Finlandia a lifeline back into the game. He scored seven points on three plays in the space of less than a minute, which put the Lions back within single digits midway through the half.

Morrow solidified the interior with his 21 points and 12 rebounds, which led his team in both categories.

At the other forward position, Keith Arnold struggled shooting (2-for-11) but had a game-high six assists.

“We did do probably one of our better jobs this game of passing the ball out of the post and circling the ball, reversing it, so we got some decent looks. We’ve got to make them,” Smith said.

In the backcourt, the threes never fell consistently (6-for-25), but Robinson had 18 points off the bench, primarily by aggressively going to the basket.

Robinson scored on a cut to keep the gap eight with 6:27 left, but the wheels came off for the Lions from there. Eric Kittel had 10 of Concordia’s points in a 19-1 run, including two threes.

Finlandia also struggled to contain Keith Kahlfeldt, who was 6-for-8 from three en route to a game-high 29 points.

“When you don’t score, your defensive confidence drops, and I think if we could’ve scored a couple of those easy baskets and free throws it would have kept us in a tight game and it helps your defensive intensity somewhat,” Smith said.

The Lions are back at it today as the tail end of a home doubleheader with Lakeland.