HASTINGS, Neb. – An 11-point halftime lead melted away and turned into a double-digit second half deficit on Wednesday (Jan. 9) for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. Instead of going quietly into the night, Tanner Shuck spearheaded a thrilling comeback that was highlighted by the game-winning step back trey from the left wing. The Bulldogs walked away from Lynn Farrell Arena an 87-84 victor over Hastings.
Shuck’s heroics provided the sort of confidence booster desperately needed for sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. Concordia has snapped a seven-game GPAC skid while moving to 9-10 overall and to 2-9 in conference play.
“There were a lot of exciting moments on both sides,” Limback said. “Tanner Shuck had an amazing second half and just did a great job. He hit big shots. There were so many moments where the guys could have just given up. They were hitting some inside stuff. I loved the heart down the stretch. It’s tough to get these road wins so we’ll take it.”
The Bulldogs received a break early on when Hastings star point guard Kevin Miller went down with an injury not long after tipoff. He left the game and never returned. Concordia seemingly took full advantage by leading nearly the entire first half on the strength of the low post scoring punch of Sammy Adjei and Chuol Biel.
Hastings got things rolling in the second half, first taking the lead (52-51) at the 12:28 mark, and led by double digits as late as the 5:07 mark. The Broncos (12-7, 5-6 GPAC) shot an impressive 57.4 percent (31-for-54) for the game, including 66.7 percent in the second half. It was going to take a herculean effort to outdo the efforts of Bart Hiscock and Brendan Lipovsky (21 points apiece).
Enter Shuck, who was playing near his hometown of Grand Island. This was quite the way to break out of a recent funk. Over the final 10:34 of game time, Shuck exploded for 17 of his game high 23 points. His triple with 4:41 left made it a six-point deficit. He was just getting warmed up. He knocked in another triple with under a minute remaining to pull the Bulldogs within one.
Then down two (84-82) with the clock ticking under five seconds, Shuck received the ball from Brevin Sloup, created space with the step back and drilled it. For good measure, Shuck added two free throws after a Hastings turnover on the ensuing possession.
“It’s nice to see him come back and have that great second half,” Limback said. “We got some balance with that. Justin Wiersema had a good game off the bench and Chuol had a nice spurt in the first half. Those Grand Island guys love coming here. I’m just proud of the guys to get the win on the road.”
Shuck knocked down 5-of-10 shots from beyond the arc while running his career point total to 994. Four other Bulldogs reached double figures: Biel (14), Sloup (13), Adjei (12) and Wiersema (11). Biel also hauled in 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Concordia outrebounded the Broncos, 38-23.
Shuck and company earned a regular-season sweep of Hastings having also edged the Broncos, 92-87, in overtime on Nov. 14. Hastings had just come off a close battle (106-103 OT loss to Briar Cliff) in its previous outing.
The Bulldogs will take their shot at seventh-ranked Briar Cliff (15-3, 9-2 GPAC) on Saturday when action tips off at 4 p.m. CST. Back on Nov. 10, the Chargers handed Concordia an 81-64 defeat. Briar Cliff built a large lead with the help of 16-for-35 shooting from 3-point range.