Bulldogs conclude Big Island Classic with double OT win over top 25 foe

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 18, 2023 in Men's Basketball

HILO, Hawaii – In many ways, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team got what it wanted out of its trip to Hawaii – two highly competitive games that would not have looked out of place at an NAIA National Championship tournament. Game No. 2 for the Bulldogs at the Big Island Holiday Classic featured all the drama anyone could want. A regular season classic on Monday (Dec. 18) saw Concordia pull it out of the fire and outlast No. 19 Olivet Nazarene University, 108-103, in double overtime. Freshman Tyler Harre splashed home the contest’s biggest shot with just over a minute left in the second extra session.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad was narrowly defeated, 74-73, by NCAA Division II San Francisco State University the previous day in action inside Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo, Hawaii. The Bulldogs will return to Nebraska with an 8-3 overall record.

“It was a battle between two very physical teams,” Limback said. “It was two teams that get to the free throw line and rebound well. I think the difference was that we made threes while they made their free throws. We didn’t shoot free throws like we normally would. That was a tough team to guard for 40 minutes, let alone two overtimes. Both teams wore out and it became a battle of wills. Tyler Harre hit some big threes, Brad Bennett played a great game and Lukas (Helms) had a big bucket to send it to double overtime.”

This was going to be a heartbreaker for whichever side came up on the short end. Concordia owned a second half lead as large as 14 points while the Tigers of Bourbonnais, Ill., waited until the last minute of regulation to claim their first advantage of the afternoon. To force the first overtime, the always dependable Noah Schutte got fouled and evened the score, 84-84, with two free throws. The Bulldogs then needed a bucket from Harre and a defensive stop to survive the first overtime. With the game tied, 101-101, Harre hit a cold-blooded triple that finally gave Concordia the lead for good.

Somehow, the Bulldogs found a way even after Schutte fouled out with four minutes left in the first overtime. Before leaving the contest, Schutte notched the 31st 20-point game of his career in going for 25 points and nine rebounds on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor. Concordia showed it has other scoring options as four players joined Schutte in double figures: Tristan Smith (22), Bennett (16), Jaxon Stueve (15) and Harre (12). The Bulldogs actually shot a higher percent from the field (.544) than they did from the foul line (.541 – 20-for-37) and went 14-for-31 (.452) from long distance.

Said Limback, “It was a battle of wills in a game like that. For us to sustain it despite some free throw shooting woes and our best player fouling out shows the character of this team. We talked before the game about the ‘rise up’ theme. As tides get higher, we have to raise our level. The two teams we played out here brought out the best in us. We answered the bell with our effort and execution. I was pleased with both games on our attention to detail – these games came down to toughness and will.”

Olivet Nazarene (8-3) is a program that has made three-straight trips to the national tournament and features NAIA Second Team All-American Tyler Schmidt. The workhorse Schmidt nearly went the distance (47 of 50 minutes played) and tallied 22 points. He was backed by 23 points from Landon Pfederer and 21 from Sam Emich. The Tigers shot a solid 48.7 percent from the floor but were not as effective as Concordia from the 3-point arc, where they went 6-for-16 (.375).

The contributions for the Bulldogs went beyond their top scorers. Stueve stepped in nicely in his first career start, Helms contributed seven points, eight rebounds and five assists and Hayden Frank drained three treys off the bench. Smith’s stat line included eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.

With two hard-fought games in the books, Concordia will enjoy a couple more days in Hawaii. The plan is to do more sightseeing, venture to Honolulu and to take in a real live volcano. Be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram for a look at the remainder of their stay in The Aloha State.

Following a break for Christmas, the Bulldogs will look forward to playing at St. Ambrose University (6-6) on Saturday, Dec. 30. That contest will tip off at 2 p.m. CT from Lee Lohman Arena in Davenport, Iowa. The Fighting Bees compete as a member of the NAIA’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

All-Classic Team
#10 Sam Emich, Olivet Nazarene
#22 Tristan Smith, Concordia
#23 Demarcus Hall-Scriven, Alaska
#11 Kalique Mitchell, Hawai‘i Hilo
#23 Jailen Daniel-Dalton, San Francisco State