Baker cooks Jimmies, Bulldogs complete 2-0 week in the GPAC

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 2, 2023 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – A frenetic pace early on favored visiting Jamestown before the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team used a game-defining 21-0 run to take control of Saturday (Dec. 2)’s clash inside Friedrich Arena. Joel Baker enjoyed a white-hot shooting stretch in the first half while Noah Schutte produced his second-straight double-double as the Bulldogs toppled the Jimmies, 99-78. Concordia netted 12 tries from 3-point range and shot 48.6 percent from the field overall.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad won twice this week by double digits within conference play. The Bulldogs pushed their season record to 5-2 overall (2-2 GPAC).

“I’m really proud of the bench,” Limback said. “We didn’t get off to a good start. We’ve been challenging the guys all year, and especially the last couple of weeks, to be ready when your name’s called. I feel like we have good depth on this team, and it was evident tonight. We needed that spark. Joel Baker, a senior leader, I’m just so proud of him. All of our guys fed off of that.”

Offensively, Concordia got the shots it wanted all afternoon. And without 2022-23 NAIA National Player of the Year Mason Walters, Jamestown no longer rules the boards like it used to. Schutte (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Tristan Smith (17 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) made their presence known in the paint and helped the Bulldogs to a commanding 48-33 rebound advantage. Concordia’s lead grew to as many as 22 points and never dipped below 10 throughout the second half.

The cushion was made possible by the Baker-led surge in the middle of the first half. The Alliance, Neb., native emerged with the Bulldogs trailing 20-14. In a stretch of just over two minutes that followed, Baker drained three treys, scored on a layup in transition and dropped a dime to Tyler Harre for another triple. By the time the 21-0 run had finally been snapped, Concordia led, 37-20. Baker’s microwave oven-hot stretch riled up his teammates.

“My teammates were finding me,” Baker said. “It’s always good to see that first three go through. After that, it just kind of spiraled. Tyler (Harre) hit a couple there that were big. It was just a really great run by our second unit.”

While Schutte and Smith are the usual suspects leading the charge, the Bulldogs got seven or more points from five others, including the 11 from Baker, nine from Hayden Frank, eight apiece from Lukas Helms and Brooks Kissinger and seven from Jaxon Weyand. Limback used 10 players for at least 10 minutes in a display of the team’s strong bench.

Said Limback, “I thought Tristan did a good job of attacking. Their big fella caused problems at the rim – I thought he was aggressive. We started to attack him stronger. That first half spurt was really the story of the game. We pushed the lead out and then it was back and forth at times. Our message was that we have to be better defensively in terms of our focus. To learn lessons while you’re winning is important.”

Jamestown (2-7, 1-4 GPAC) has found itself in a unique situation with a coaching change having taken place after the season began. Former women’s basketball coach Greg Ulland has stepped into an interim role. His squad was led on Saturday by the 16 points and seven assists from Cole Woodford. The team’s featured big man, Jimmy Llinas, posted eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Silas Bennion also reached double figures with 14. Jamestown won each of the three meetings last season with Concordia.

The Bulldogs will not make another public appearance inside Friedrich Arena until after New Year’s. GPAC play will continue on Wednesday as Concordia heads to Yankton, S.D., for a 7:45 p.m. CT matchup with Mount Marty (2-6, 0-4 GPAC). The Lancers are still in search of their first GPAC victory this season after their 72-57 home loss to Briar Cliff on Saturday. The Bulldogs split last season’s two meetings with Mount Marty.