Concordia University secured an 82-71 men’s basketball win over Dakota Wesleyan University on Saturday evening in Seward. The Bulldogs led for most of the way, but had to hold off a late rally by DWU to pick up the win. Concordia improved to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the GPAC with the win, while Dakota Wesleyan slipped to 7-3 overall and 2-2 in GPAC play with the loss.
The first half was close throughout. The Bulldogs led by as many as six on two separate occasions, but the visiting Tigers hung around and pulled within one at 35-34 with 20 seconds remaining in the half. Concordia’s Andy Banahan (Steele City, Neb.) scored with two seconds left to put the Bulldogs on top by the score of 37-34 heading into the halftime break.
Concordia built a 46-38 lead with just over 16 minutes to play in the contest, but DWU rallied. The Tigers pulled within one (50-49) with just under 12 minutes remaining. Concordia again had an answer, as Adam Vogt (Syracuse, Neb.) and Barrett Braun (Lakeside, Calif.) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead back to seven at 56-49.
After Concordia built a double digit lead, Dakota Wesleyan used pressure defense to get back into the game. With the Bulldogs leading 73-59 with about four minutes left in regulation, the Tigers used a quick 8-0 run to pull within six at 73-67.
A pair of made free throws by Tyler Byrd (Bennington, Neb.) pushed the Concordia lead back to eight at 75-67. DWU’s Demetrius Davis then connected on two free throws to trim the Concordia lead back to six at 75-69. Kristopher Wilson followed with two more made free throws for DWU to pull the Tigers within four (75-71) with 1:40 left in regulation.
Byrd was fouled and made 1-of-2 at the line to give the Bulldogs a 76-71 advantage. The Tigers went cold down the stretch, and solid free throw shooting by Concordia sealed the 82-71 victory.
“This win shows we have a resilient team,” said Bulldog junior Tyler Byrd. “We had a tough loss the other night, but we learned some things in that game. It was great to bounce back and defend our home court.”
Concordia was 28-of-61 (45.9 percent) from the field overall. The Bulldogs were 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from deep, and that was a huge difference in the game. A total of five different Concordia players hit 3-pointers in the game, and several key makes from long range snapped scoring runs by Dakota Wesleyan. The Bulldogs were strong at the foul line, connecting on 15-of-19 for 78.9 percent. Concordia held a slim 37-33 rebounding advantage in the win.
Byrd led a balanced Concordia scoring attack with a game-high 22 points. He was 7-of-14 from the field, 3-of-5 from deep and 5-of-6 at the foul line. Byrd also added five rebounds and four assists. Ryan Shrum (Allen, Texas) added 15 points, and Braun poured in 14 to go along with five boards. Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.) scored 11 points and added a team-best eight rebounds. Sam Huebner (Aurora, Colo.) filled the stat sheet with seven points, six rebounds and six assists.
“This is our first win over Dakota Wesleyan since I’ve been here,” noted Bulldog senior Ryan Shrum. “We lost to these guys last year, and it’s big to pick up this win over one of the top teams in the conference.”
Dakota Wesleyan was 25-of-58 (43.1 percent) from the field in the loss. The Tigers went just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from long range and were 16-of-20 (80 percent) at the foul line.
Brady Wiebe scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead DWU. Larry Swann and Jake Kneeland added 12 points apiece for the Tigers.
Concordia hosts Hastings College on Wednesday evening. Tip is scheduled for 8 pm at the Health, Human Performance and Athletic Center.