CRETE, Neb. – It was physical and it was ugly. In the end, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team couldn’t pull out the grinder on the road. The Bulldogs shot just 32.8 percent from the floor in a 54-50 loss at Doane on Wednesday (Feb. 9). The defensive might of the Tigers held down a Concordia squad that had scored exactly 92 points in both of last week’s wins.
The path to a potential GPAC regular season title got a bit bumpier for Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad. With two games left in the regular season, the Bulldogs sit at 20-6 overall and at 13-5 in the conference.
“This team knows how to score – a lot of credit to Doane,” Limback said. “They guarded our action and they’re tough to score on. I felt like we were hesitant or we were forcing it. We just didn’t get a good balance. We didn’t shoot well – thankfully we defended well. You can’t go 5-for-12 from the free throw line and miss the shots we did. We have to crave these moments. We wanted it and the effort was there, but I feel like we just didn’t handle the big moments very well tonight.”
The matchups with Doane always seem to have this same feel to them. Concordia likes to get out and run in transition, but the Tigers just didn’t allow for that to happen in a slow-paced affair. Even so, the Bulldogs had their chances. They led by two (47-45) with less than three minutes remaining after Sam Scarpelli’s clutch trey. Doane responded with an 8-0 run that provided a 53-47 spread in the final minute. Concordia clawed back and had a shot to tie it on Scarpelli’s desperation 3-point attempt that came up short in the closing seconds.
It just didn’t look like Bulldog Basketball. Concordia mounted a 19-10 lead in the opening half before enduring a drought of more than seven minutes without a point. That dry spell gave the Tigers a chance to take a 24-21 lead to the halftime break. Doane was only slightly better on the offensive end as it shot 35.7 percent (20-for-56) from the floor. The heroes for the Tigers were the likes of Alec Oberhauser (19 points and 18 rebounds) and Josiah Gardiner (19 points and three blocks).
Both teams’ top backcourt scoring options struggled. For the Bulldogs, Carter Kent went 1-for-9 from the floor while Doane’s Anthony Laravie shot 1-for-15. Gage Smith led Concordia with 17 points (to go along with eight rebounds) in a hard-nosed effort in the paint. Noah Schutte turned in a double-double that featured 10 points and 11 rebounds. Scarpelli added nine points off the bench and Justin Wiersema notched six points, nine rebounds and four assists. Schutte and company won the rebound battle, 46-36.
The Bulldogs will wait a week until welcoming No. 22 Briar Cliff (17-8, 13-3 GPAC) to Friedrich Arena for a 7:45 p.m. CT tipoff next Wednesday (Feb. 16). With Concordia and Briar Cliff situated at the top of the standings, that contest could decide the GPAC regular season champion. The Bulldogs will be out to avenge their 65-48 loss at Briar Cliff back on Nov. 13.