SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Gage Smith produced a triple-double on Wednesday (Nov. 30) evening at Morningside, but even that wasn’t enough for the 19th-ranked Concordia University Men’s Basketball team to claim victory. Host Morningside benefited from a plus-seven turnover margin while pulling out the 69-62 victory at Allee Gym in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs had tried to overcome 4-for-18 shooting from the perimeter.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad has dropped back-to-back conference games while slipping to 6-2 overall (3-2 GPAC). There were some positive takeaways, but Concordia felt like it shot itself in the foot too often.
“Defensively we were good enough tonight,” Limback said. “Offensively, when you shoot 52 percent and you hold the other team to 69 points, you win a lot of those games. We just turned it over too much. I thought that was the bottom line. Down the stretch is when we made some critical ones, the last four minutes. We have to be better on the execution side of things. It’s tough, but I thought the effort was there. We just didn’t take care of the ball.”
The effort from Gage Smith is never a question. His nonstop motor revved up like a diesel engine while he totaled 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a performance that marked the first triple-double by a Bulldog during Limback’s tenure that began with the 2013-14 season. The toughness inside of the Smith brothers and Noah Schutte (who played through pain) gave Concordia a shot. The Bulldogs hung within striking distance all night and fought back to tie the game in the second half after trailing by nine.
Then came a rash of turnovers and empty offensive possessions in the final four minutes. Morningside’s Will Pottebaum stepped up and drained a back-breaking trey at the 2:05 mark to push the home team lead to 67-58. Missed free throws by the Mustangs left the door open just a crack – Concordia had an open look at a three down 67-62 with just under 30 ticks left on the clock. Morningside (7-2, 3-1 GPAC) earned its third win over a top 25 team on the strength of 17 points from Ely Doble.
Tristan Smith equaled his brother in the scoring column with 18 points (on 8-for-10 shooting). Schutte grinded out 10 points while playing 34 minutes. The backcourt of Brad Bennett and Garrett Seagren combined for 13 points. A stellar defensive stopper, Seagren swiped two steals. The Bulldogs lost despite advantages in shooting percentage (51.9 to 50.0) and rebounding (31-27).
Said Limback of Gage Smith’s outing, “He had an amazing effort and defensively he played his tail off. I thought Noah gave us some good stuff even though he’s banged up. Certainly T-Ray was a big part of our run. I thought when he picked up his fourth foul that was a big moment. We have to bounce back. It was a good road test for us.”
The Bulldogs will return home to host Northwestern (7-2, 2-1 GPAC) at 3:45 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Red Raiders received votes in the NAIA poll earlier this season after reaching the national tournament this past March. Concordia and Northwestern split their two regular season meetings last season with the home team triumphing by double-digit margins in both contests.