Co-GPAC leaders up next

By Jake Knabel on Feb. 5, 2018 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – Coming off back-to-back GPAC losses last week, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will have no break in its schedule. In the midst of playing four ranked opponents in their final five games of the regular season, the Bulldogs (16-9, 7-7 GPAC) now face a pair of road games against GPAC co-leaders Briar Cliff and Morningside. Concordia will have an opportunity to play the role of championship spoiler while also hopeful of enhancing its chances of a top four conference finish.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 7 at No. 4 Briar Cliff (22-5, 11-4 GPAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 10 at No. 9 Morningside (19-6, 11-4 GPAC), 4 p.m.

Twenty-five games into the season, head coach Ben Limback is still looking for more consistency from an offense that has run hot and cold. From a defensive standpoint, the Bulldogs performed well enough to win both games last week. They held Midland (41.1 percent) and Northwestern (45.8 percent) well below their season averages in scoring and shooting percentage. Concordia has been one of the GPAC’s best defensive teams, sporting conference rankings of first in field goal percentage defense (.434) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.310) and second in scoring defense (75.9).

Sophomore Clay Reimers continues to top the GPAC in rebounding with an average of 8.7 per game. The Lincoln East High School product enjoyed a solid week of action while putting up 14 points and 12 rebounds at Midland and 16 points and 10 rebounds versus Northwestern. Reimers has pushed his GPAC best double-double total to nine this season. Cordell Gillingham went off for a career high 20 points versus Northwestern. He made 8-of-10 shots from the floor and added six rebounds and two steals. Off the bench, freshman Noah Valasek played a season high 16 minutes and totaled six points.

After starting out 8-1 in conference play, Briar Cliff is 3-3 over its past six games. The Chargers suffered their first home loss of the season last week at the hands of No. 18 Dakota Wesleyan. Briar Cliff shot an uncharacteristically low 35.9 percent in that defeat. First-year head coach Mark Svagera’s squad has typically been a prolific offensive team behind the likes of Erich Erdman (19.4 ppg), Jay Wolfe (18.1 ppg) and Jackson Lamb (15.6). The Chargers lead the nation in 3-point field goals per game (12.3). They sank 11 treys in their 78-65 win at Concordia on Jan. 10.

Morningside is right in the mix atop the conference along with Briar Cliff. The Mustangs missed out on an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place when they fell at Hastings, 91-80, on Feb. 3. An efficient offensive squad, Morningside ranks third nationally in field goal percentage (.514). In this season’s first meeting, the Mustangs held the Bulldogs to 31.0 percent shooting in an 80-57 victory for Morningside. Four Mustang starters average more than 12 points per game, including team leader Brody Egger (15.5 ppg), who ranks in the top 40 nationally in free throw shooting (.882) and 3-point shooting (.450).

Next week will be the final week of regular-season action. Concordia will host Doane (12-14, 6-9 GPAC) on Feb. 14 and then Dakota Wesleyan (19-8, 9-6 GPAC) on Feb. 17. The finale will serve as senior day for the program. Kyle Pierce is the team’s lone senior.

Projected lineups

Concordia (16-9, 7-7)
G – Jake Hornick: 14.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.2 apg, .482 fg%, .381 3-pt fg%, .793 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 8.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, .479 fg%, .329 3-pt fg%, .657 ft%
G – Tanner Shuck: 13.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, .450 fg%, .392 3-pt fg%, .721 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, .461 fg%, .353 3-pt fg%, .815 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 bpg, .607 fg%, .406 3-pt fg%, .667 ft%

Briar Cliff (22-5, 11-4)
G – Erich Erdman: 19.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.7 spg, .519 fg%, .375 3-pt fg%, .890 ft%
G – Dylan Janecek: 3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, .416 fg%, .261 3-pt fg%, .652 ft%
G – Jackson Lamb: 15.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 spg, .463 fg%, .383 3-pt fg%, .836 ft%
G – Jay Wolfe: 18.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.9 spg, .533 fg%, .477 3-pt fg%, .836 ft%
F – Blake Wiltgen: 9.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, .613 fg%, .531 ft%

Morningside (19-6, 11-4)
G – Pierce Almond: 6.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .323 fg%, .299 3-pt fg%, .692 ft%
G – Alex Borchers: 13.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, .568 fg%, .460 3-pt fg%, .792 ft%
G – Brody Egger: 15.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, .490 fg%, .450 3-pt fg%, .882 ft%
G – Zach Imig: 12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.2 spg, .505 fg%, .257 3-pt fg%, .638 ft%
C – Tyler Borchers: 14.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .662 fg%, .657 ft%