Bulldogs aim to stay hot at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 16, 2020 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – The only thing that has slowed down the Concordia University men’s basketball team lately was a break in the action. The Bulldogs were idle in the middle of this week following last week’s victories over Hastings and Jamestown. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad owns the GPAC’s second longest active win streak with six-straight triumphs. Concordia will take its act on the road this Saturday for a matchup with Briar Cliff.

Saturday, Jan. 18

at Briar Cliff (11-9, 2-8 GPAC), 4 p.m.
Live Webcast | Live Stats | 104.9 Max Country

A sign of the team effort it has taken to get this season back on track, three different Bulldogs have been named GPAC Players of the Week over the past three weeks: Brevin Sloup (Dec. 31), Carter Kent (Jan. 7) and Tanner Shuck (Jan. 14). Those three have played a starring role in leading Concordia to its longest win streak since the 2016-17 season. During the streak, the Bulldogs have averaged 86.0 points while allowing 66.2 per game. Over that run, Kent is averaging 19.0 points and has shot 45.2 percent from 3-point range. Concordia has drained at least 10 3-point field goals in five-consecutive games – all victories by double-digit margins. Sam Scarpelli, Gage Smith and Justin Wiersema are also threats from long range.

Currently in fourth place in the GPAC standings, the Bulldogs (13-5, 6-4 GPAC) will be especially dangerous moving forward if senior Tanner Shuck continues to play the way he did last week when he put up a combined 39 points and 14 rebounds and went 14-for-24 (.583) from the field. Shuck now ranks in a tie for 13th in program history with 1,346 career points. He’s also knocked down 263 treys in Concordia colors. Not only is the 13-5 record the team’s best record after 18 games during Shuck’s career, it’s the top 18-game mark for the program since the 2008-09 season.

Outsiders have started to take notice of what the Bulldogs have been doing. The NAIA Hoops Report referred to Concordia as the hottest team in the conference other than top-ranked Morningside. Also for the first time since the close of the 2016-17 season, the Bulldogs are now receiving votes in the national poll. Concordia was listed fifth among “receiving votes” teams in the coaches’ poll released on Wednesday. It will have six more games before the next national poll is unveiled on Feb. 5. A good showing during that stretch could land the Bulldogs inside the top 25 for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.

Limback’s crew will try to settle a score from back on Nov. 16 when Nick Hoyt’s trey lifted Briar Cliff to a 70-69 win in a game Concordia led for virtually the entire second half. Since then, the Chargers have gone 4-9 and are currently on a three-game skid within conference play. On a positive note, head coach Mark Svagera’s squad recently got Ethan Freidel (934 career points) back after he had been sidelined since late November. Senior guard Jackson Lamb leads the team with an average of 23.3 points per game. Briar Cliff remains a prolific 3-point shooting team, ranking fourth nationally in 3-point percentage (.408). The Bulldogs have not won at Briar Cliff since February 2009.

Before heading to CIT (Jan. 24-25) next week, Concordia will also host top-ranked Morningside on Jan. 22.

Projected Lineups

Concordia (13-5, 6-4 GPAC)
G – Brevin Sloup, Sr., 5-9 (14.5)
G – Justin Wiersema, So., 6-3 (8.4)
G – Carter Kent, So., 6-2 (15.1)
F – Tanner Shuck, Sr., 6-4 (12.4)
F – Chuol Biel, Sr., 6-8 (5.8)

Briar Cliff (11-9, 2-8 GPAC)
G – Jaden Kleinhesselink, So., 6-2 (11.9)
G – Nick Hoyt, Fr., 5-11 (9.2)
G – Jake Carley, So., 6-0 (1.7)
G – Jackson Lamb, Sr., 6-4 (23.3)
F – Austin Roetman, Jr., 6-8 (9.7)