SEWARD, Neb. – It’s a week about taking care of business at home against two foes situated at the bottom of the GPAC standings. In a return to action on Wednesday (Feb. 17), the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team routinely poked holes in the Hastings 1-3-1 zone on the way to a 106-73 victory inside Friedrich Arena. The Bulldogs were the opposite of February weather in Nebraska while netting 19 treys in the rout.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad remains in the hunt for the No. 2 seed in the GPAC tournament. Concordia has moved to 16-8 overall and to 13-6 in the GPAC (currently tied for fourth).
“This team is unselfish. That’s one of the things we emphasized this year,” Limback said. “Make that extra pass. I think I’ve seen close to 30 assists (as the Bulldogs had on Wednesday) in my career, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen only seven turnovers with those 30 assists. To me that showed there was some discipline. They weren’t trying to be fancy or force things. It was just hit the open man.”
The Bulldogs took full advantage of one of the league’s most porous defensive teams. They essentially did what they wanted offensively, rotating the ball for open looks both inside and outside. Carter Kent drilled five triples in the first half alone on his way to 19 points. Five of his teammates also knocked down multiple 3-point shots on a night when hot shooting was contagious.
Hastings (6-18, 2-17 GPAC) hung with Concordia for a majority of the first half (trailed just 37-34 with at the 13-minute mark). The stops on the defensive end never came for the Broncos, who relinquished a 21-8 run to close the half and trailed, 58-42, at the break. It did not seem to matter what type of defensive look Hastings threw at the Bulldogs.
“We had talked a little bit about how they might go zone, they might go man,” said senior Sam Scarpelli. “They switch up their defense a lot. When they threw (the 1-3-1) at us we had kind of prepared for it. We had a couple plays in mind that we wanted to get into. The shots were falling.”
While Kent led the way with 19 points (5-for-9 from 3-point range), starters Gage Smith (17), Justin Wiersema (16) and Scarpelli (12) also reached double figures. Those four Bulldogs combined to go a super human 14-for-22 from beyond the arc. Four Concordia players posted four or more assists: Kent (seven), Wiersema (six), AJ Watson (five) and Smith (four). In addition, Smith collected 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double this season.
The Bulldogs shot 58.0 percent (40-for-69) from the floor and 46.3 percent (19-for-41) from 3-point range. Off the bench, Thomas Young nailed three triples and Jackson Hirschfeld put home two of his own. Meanwhile, Cory Davila (eight points on 4-for-5 shooting) and Grant Wragge (six points on 3-for-3 shooting) were efficient from inside the arc.
The Broncos have dropped 11 straight matchups versus Concordia. Mason Hiemstra paced Hastings with 20 points. Leading scorer Karson Gansebom did not play. The Broncos shot 46.0 percent from the field and were outrebounded, 40-25.
In order for Concordia to claim the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, it needs to win on Saturday and have Morningside defeat Northwestern and Dakota Wesleyan defeat Jamestown. That would create a four-way tie for second place. The Bulldogs would have the tiebreaker for the second slot.
The Bulldogs will close out the regular season on Saturday when they host Doane (6-18, 3-16 GPAC) in a matchup set to tip off at 4 p.m. CT. Prior to game time, the program will honor four seniors: Ryan Holt, Sam Scarpelli, Grant Wragge and Thomas Young. Concordia will be seeking a season sweep of the Tigers, an opponent it defeated, 83-66, on Nov. 30.
Limback now owns 250 career victories as a collegiate head coach. Said Limback, “At this point in the year, the seniors have to drive home the importance of every game, and I think they’re ready for that. It will be an awesome day on Saturday to honor the seniors. This senior class doesn’t want that to be their final home game. They want to keep playing as long as they can.”