Dawgs clamp down defense transitions to easy win over Lancers

By Chase Benton on Jan. 24, 2024 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – In the wake of an upcoming Concordia Invitational Tournament (CIT), the Bulldogs started their week with a conference foe square-off against Mount Marty. Concordia kept their eyes focused on the opponent in front of them and annihilated the Lancers on both ends of the floor, for a 92-63 triumph. Tristian Smith paced the team with 18 points and 12 rebounds while sitting down early, with 14 minutes to go in the second half. Hayden Frank came off the bench and picked up 13, after a perfect 4-of-4 from the field.

After attaining another GPAC win, the Bulldogs have reached a 13-5 overall record and 8-4 in conference play. Head Coach Ben Limback commented on every player putting in effort and the game plan against Mount Marty.

“We set the tone early, defensively. I was proud of our effort. Once we got a lead, we kept the momentum going. I loved our bench. Every guy we put in tonight gave effort. We wanted to let our defense lead our offense and get out in transition. It was very evident in the first half and we finished that way in the second half.”

The home team relished takeaways on the defensive side of the floor, forcing nine turnovers leading to 13 points in the first half. Tied at five, Concordia went on a 13-0 scoring frenzy, getting the ball to Smith en route to multiple rack attacks early. By the end of the run, Smith had already seized 10 points and 5 rebounds, with less than seven minutes off the clock.

Smith said, “With the amount of shooters we have on the floor, it was easy for me to get to the rim. It’s a blessing when you have four guys around you they have to worry about. We got out in transition early and ran, which is kind of my forte. Our emphasis coming into the game was to let our defense transition to our offense. We wanted to force turnovers and have clean rebounding.”

Noah Schutte wanted in on the buckets, linking up with Brayson Muller for a give-and-go slam, pushing the lead back into the double digits midway through the first frame. When it rains, it pours, and Zac Kulus helped continue a mountain of a run (24-4) with five quick points (10 total), after entering the game less than a minute before.

Everyone who stepped on the floor seemed to get a basket, but Schutte and Bennett took control late in the first, trading buckets with each other, piling on the 32-point lead (49-17) at the break. They finished with 12 and 15, respectively. Using spacing and moving together on the offensive side of the floor, the Bulldogs shot 54 percent (19-of-35) from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range. Mount Marty was held to an ice cold 21 percent (6-of-29).

In the second half, Frank came on and didn’t disappoint, hitting 3-of-3 from downtown. Never surrendering the double-digit lead as 14 different players got minutes, the Bulldog bench kept putting the pressure on with the same defensive mentality as the starters. Schutte and Mueller finished with six rebounds apiece, as Lukas Helms had a team-high four assists.

CUNE (13-5) will turn their sights to the 71st CIT this upcoming weekend (Jan. 26-27). The Bulldogs are scheduled to face off against Concordia University Ann Arbor (6-12) on Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The CIT will be hosted by Concordia University Wisconsin at R. John Buuck Field House. The Bulldogs have won the last two CIT titles (2023, 20’), as Covid-19 canceled the 2021 and 2022 tournaments.