Bulldogs suffer first loss in shootout with No. 19 Morningside

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 15, 2023 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – Stops were difficult to come by on a night when defending GPAC regular season champion Morningside rolled into Friedrich Arena. Arch villains Ely Doble and Joey Skoff combined for 60 points as they toppled the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team, 101-89, in the GPAC opener for both squads on Wednesday (Nov. 15). The Bulldogs allowed the Mustangs to shoot 53.8 percent from the floor.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad fell for the first time this season and slipped to 3-1 overall. Concordia had been 33-3 over its previous 36 home games.

“I thought we battled, hung in there and took some punches,” Limback said. “The first half we weren’t sharp and didn’t execute defensively. Offensively, we were okay. In the second half, Doble got going and we got in foul trouble, so we had to change how we defended. There were a lot of plays during that stretch where they could have went on a run, but I was proud of how we battled. We just weren’t good enough.”

For much of the night, Concordia managed to keep up while following the lead of star Noah Schutte. Morningside finally found some separation with a late 8-0 run that turned its 80-79 advantage into an 88-79 lead with few than three minutes to play. Skoff accounted for six points during that spurt that allowed the Mustangs to regain control. Down the stretch, Morningside iced the contest at the line and shot 23-for-27 from the charity stripe overall. Twenty-one free throw makes came after halftime.

The Bulldogs mixed up defensive looks with more zone than they would normally play. Both Lukas Helms and Tristan Smith accumulated four fouls while trying to defend the paint. Off the bench, freshman Hayden Frank took advantage of extended minutes and supplied 12 points (2-for-4 from 3-point range). Concordia shot 50 percent (30-for-60) from the field and was nearly perfect from the foul line (18-for-20).

Doble was simply too much to handle. The Gretna, Neb., native dropped in a career high 34 points on 14-for-20 shooting from the floor. In the backcourt, Skoff got going with 26 points and Aidan Vanderloo added 16 points. Head Coach Trent Miller went with his starters for 178 of a possible 200 minutes.  Not only did the Mustangs (3-1, 1-0 GPAC) shoot it efficiently, they owned a 37-25 rebound advantage.

Schutte topped the Bulldogs with 23 points (7-for-13 from the floor) in his 35 minutes of action. Smith posted 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. On the perimeter, Brad Bennett (18 points) came alive with 4-for-6 shooting from long range. Off the bench, Tyler Harre and Brooks Kissinger chipped in with six points apiece.

With the top two teams in the GPAC, based on the preseason poll, on the slate for the opening week of conference play, Concordia knew it would get an early measuring stick. Said Limback, “We’ll see what we’re made of. We have a hungry group of guys. We have some young guys, but we have some depth. There are going to be times when you’re number’s called. I thought Hayden Frank did an outstanding job today. We just weren’t sharp enough. You could see they’re a very strong, very good team. There’s a reason they were picked first (in the GPAC).”

Another top 25 opponent from within the conference awaits as the Bulldogs will be headed to Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday to take on No. 18 Northwestern (4-0, 0-0 GPAC). Tipoff is slated for 6:45 p.m. CT from the Bultman Center (an adjustment from the original schedule). The Red Raiders had the middle of this week off after defeating two nonconference foes at their own classic this past weekend.