Bulldogs fall to No. 6 Northwestern in overtime heart stopper

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 10, 2016 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team gave sixth-ranked Northwestern, the GPAC frontrunner, everything it could handle in an overtime contest that made it tough on the ticker. Ultimately, Colton Kooima and the Red Raiders put a blemish on the Bulldogs’ previously perfect home record and escaped Walz Arena with a 93-89 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The defeat halted a nine-game home win streak for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s program. After another GPAC shootout, Concordia sits at 7-6 overall and at 2-5 in league play.

“We knew coming in that someone would have to step up (with starting guard Chris Johnstone sidelined),” Limback said. “I thought Tanner Shuck really stepped up tonight and did some things he normally doesn’t do. And Eli (Ziegler) was outstanding. I was proud of the whole team. There were moments during regulation where we had to gut out three or four stops in a row against a very good offensive team.

“But it’s disappointing. We’re all kind of quiet in that locker room. I told the guys to keep their heads up.”

Both Shuck and Ziegler put forth career high scoring totals on Saturday. Shuck rained home three of his 24 points on a buzzer beater at the end of regulation, bringing Walz into an uproar. The overtime-forcing shot was heavily guarded and came just seconds after Parker Mulder drained two free throws to push the Red Raider lead to three.

In the extra session, Concordia had brief leads on two occasions and hovered within one point of Northwestern in the final minute. That’s when Kooima surfaced with the back breaker. He missed a trey, but got another opportunity when Nathan Wedel got the offensive board and kicked it back out to Kooima. The star junior guard from Sioux Falls didn’t miss the second time around and the Red Raiders led, 92-88.

The Bulldogs got most of their offense from three players. Chandler Folkerts (14), Shuck (24) and Ziegler (28) combined for 66 points. Ziegler went 6-for-12 from 3-point range and Shuck nailed 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc. The scoring adept Bulldogs made 14-of-30 (.467) attempts from long distance.

Offensive firepower isn’t a problem for Concordia. The sharpshooting Shuck carries a season 3-point shooting percentage of 57.7 (30-for-57).

“He’s just scratching the surface,” Limback said of Shuck. “He’s getting better every game. He’s a hard worker and a tremendous kid and I think he’ll do a lot more things as he gets older. He was a stud tonight. We’re not afraid to go to him for a game winner.”

Northwestern (14-1, 7-0 GPAC) keeps on rolling. The Red Raiders have not lost since their season opener at No. 14 Dakota State University. Three teammates joined Kooima in double figures: Riley Francis (15), Derek Buysse (12) and Mulder (12). Northwestern shot 47.4 percent compared to 48.5 percent shooting by Concordia. The Red Raiders held a decisive edge (43-32) on the boards.

After finishing final exams next week, the Bulldogs will make a trip to Sioux Center, Iowa, for a GPAC road tussle with Dordt (6-9, 0-6 GPAC) on Friday (Dec. 16). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT. Concordia remains in search of its first true road victory of the 2016-17 season.