ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University Men’s Basketball team picked an opportune time to play one of its most complete games of the 2022-23 season. A 13-0 run early in the game and then a 15-2 spurt in the second half made for a surprisingly dominant GPAC quarterfinal outing on the road for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs. The visitors nailed 20-of-37 shots from 3-point range and vanquished fourth-seeded Northwestern, 90-77, inside the Bultman Center on Wednesday (Feb. 22). Noah Schutte continued his destruction of opposing defenses with a career high 38 points.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad played with urgency knowing it resides on the national tournament bubble. As a program, Concordia (18-11) has won nine postseason games since the start of the 2019-20 season.
“Coach (Kris) Korver and I were talking before the game about how valuable it is to simply make shots,” Limback said. “If a team shoots like we did in the first half, it’s hard to overcome that. Noah Schutte kept it going in the second half, and I think our team fed off that. We came out ready to play and kept the momentum going. Second half, Garrett (Seagren) hits a big three. When we started to lose a little momentum, Noah answered the bell. He was big-time tonight.”
It’s not hyperbolic to call this one of the most impressive statistical games ever for a Bulldog Men’s Basketball player. Schutte poured in a school record nine 3-point field goals (on 11 attempts) while grabbing a personal best 18 rebounds in addition to five assists. It has been more than 15 years since the program had a player put up 40, something Schutte nearly accomplished. Every time Northwestern found some glimmer of hope, Schutte was there to squash it with a trey. He filled it up with 16 points in the first half and then 22 in the second half.
Schutte and Gage Smith were like a two-man wrecking crew. Gage played like he didn’t want his career to end in tallying 21 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots. It was that duo that paved the way for Concordia to build a 53-35 halftime advantage and then grow the lead to as large as 26 points (71-45) during the second half. Just when the Red Raiders closed to within 80-66 with six-and-a-half minutes to play, Schutte buried a triple to quiet the home crowd and settle his side back in.
Said Limback, “Everybody was excited for Noah. He’s just got that humble smile that lights up the room. When we told him he had nine threes, everyone was shocked. It wasn’t like he was hoisting them tonight. He was efficient. We were kidding him that he was worse from two than he was from three. These are the moments where you’re fighting for your season and big-time players step up.”
Schutte and Smith combined to go 12-for-17 from beyond the arc, but they also had help. From downtown, Garrett Seagren canned 3-of-5 shots, Zac Kulus went 3-for-7 and Jaxon Weyand and Logan Wilson were both 1-for-1. Kulus and Seagren finished with nine points apiece. There are five Bulldog players on record to have sank eight 3-point field goals in a game, but Schutte is the first to ever drop in nine.
Northwestern (20-9) had been 11-1 at home this season prior to Wednesday’s loss. Just about a month prior, the Red Raiders had beaten the Bulldogs soundly, 79-65, in Orange City. Not even a 29-point outing from Craig Sterk could save the Red Raiders, who now await the national tournament selection announcement. It also wasn’t star guard Dillon Carlson’s night. He went 3-for-13 from the floor and netted 10 points. To compound Northwestern’s struggles on the defensive end, the Bulldogs owned the boards, 47-28.
“Our guys set a goal to win this tournament,” Limback said. “This team is going to give it everything we got. I love the leadership right now. We have guys that are going to keep fighting. We’ll build on it and carry that momentum to Jamestown.”
That’s right, the road now leads up to North Dakota for the GPAC semifinals. Saturday’s matchup at 11th-ranked Jamestown (24-5) is set to tip off at 3 p.m. CT from Newman Arena. The Jimmies took care of eighth-seeded Hastings, 76-61, in the quarterfinals. Jamestown twice defeated Concordia during the regular season, winning by scores of 90-59 in Seward and 69-64 in North Dakota.
Updated #GPACMBB Tournament Bracket with the Quarterfinals Completed on Wednesday Night. Semifinals on Saturday for @JimmieAthletics, @MsideMustangs, @dordtdefenders, and @cunebulldogs— Great Plains Athletic Conference (@GPACSports) February 23, 2023
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