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Delta State knocks off Concordia

Concordia dug too deep a hole to climb out of in a 105-91 loss to Delta State on Thursday.

With Concordia (6-2) coach Shepherd Skanes absent due to a football recruiting trip, assistant coach Derrick Hodges filled his stead. It was his first game as Concordia’s acting head coach.

“It didn’t go like I thought it would,” said Hodges. “I thought we were going to win. They played a little harder on defense.”

With nine minutes remaining in the first half, the Statesmen took a 30-29 lead on an Eric Spencer 3-pointer and didn’t trail the rest of the way.

Spencer’s shot sparked a 12-2 run that put Delta State (6-2) up 41-32. A Joe McCray 3-pointer from midcourt at the buzzer sent the Statesmen to the locker room with a 58-45 lead.

In the second half, Delta State’s lead grew to as much as 21 as Concordia’s 3-point shooting turned ice cold.

Down 94-72 with six minutes remaining, the Hornets regained their shooting touch. A 5-2 run, including 3-pointers from Sherman Black and John Nixon, cut the deficit to to 96-87 with 1:17 left.

“Teams like this are very difficult,” said Delta State coach Jason Conner. “The way they play — we don’t face many teams that play their style.”

But the Hornets couldn’t hit crucial shots down the stretch, and Delta State sealed the win from the free throw line.

“When you play a motivated team and they get in a groove, it can be a long night,” said Conner. “I thought our kids did well in a difficult place.”

McCray led the Statesmen with 33 points. Arian Maligi added 22, and Eric Spencer had 13.

Curtis Cowan led Concordia with 21, Nixon had 13 and Zach Williams added 15.