ORANGE CITY, Iowa – It wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty, but the end result was just what the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team needed. The Bulldogs showed the toughness to persevere through another rough perimeter shooting performance while emerging with an 81-74 overtime win at Northwestern on Saturday (Jan. 2). Junior Carter Kent produced eight of his team high 17 points in the extra session.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s program has won back-to-back trips to the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa. Concordia bounced back from its Wednesday loss at Peru State College to move to 11-5 overall (8-3 GPAC).
“It was a tough offensive night overall,” Limback said. “They did a great job defensively and limited our ability to get easy stuff to the paint. We talked after the Peru State game about how you have to continue to play hard defensively and compete through whatever adversity you have at the offensive end. Sometimes games are going to be like that. I was proud of our guys. We fought at the defensive end and made it very difficult for them.”
A turnover margin of plus-nine (17-8) helped the Bulldogs overcome their 37.1 percent (26-for-70) shooting from the floor. Key efforts were also made off the bench by the likes of Grant Wragge (seven of nine points in the first half) and Thomas Young, who buried eight critical points when called upon late in the ballgame. Kent (17) and Justin Wiersema (12) eventually got going as the team’s only double-figure scorers.
Neither team could ever feel comfortable in a contest that never had a spread greater than seven points. Trailing 57-51 midway through the second half, Concordia put together a 10-0 run that featured five points from Young. The Red Raiders (10-5, 5-5 GPAC) rallied and led 64-62 in the final minute of regulation before Sam Scarpelli’s bucket forced overtime.
Unlike the OT loss at Jamestown just a couple weeks earlier, the Bulldogs got on top early thanks to back-to-back treys from Scarpelli and Kent. The Crete High School product Kent slashed for a back-breaker of a bucket in the last minute of overtime to push the lead to seven (76-69). Northwestern had run out of steam and fell despite shooting 47.5 percent from the floor.
“If you don’t go on the road and play defense then you’re rolling the dice with how well you shoot,” Limback said. “I felt like we understood that tonight. We were down there and Thomas Young gave us a huge spark. It was great to see him shoot with confidence and it carried over into overtime. I thought we executed and closed out the game well – other than a 3-point foul. It was a tough win on the road.”
The stars for Northwestern did much of its scoring as Trent Hilbrands led all players with 23 points. Alex Van Kalsbeek added 19 (to go with 12 rebounds) and Jay Small put home 15 points. The Red Raiders owned a 44-37 edge on the boards. Northwestern has suffered five-straight losses to Concordia, which is now 15-3 in its last 18 games versus GPAC opponents.
Scarpelli finished with nine points and a pair of steals. Gage Smith chipped in eight points and five rebounds before fouling out. Noah Schutte saw extended minutes and posted five points and four rebounds while Ryan Holt collected six points and five boards.
Life on the road carries on into next week with the Bulldogs set to head to 18th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (12-1, 8-0 GPAC) on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff inside the Corn Palace. It will be the first meeting between the two programs since Concordia clipped the Tigers, 68-66, in the 2020 GPAC tournament title game in Mitchell, S.D. DWU has won 12 games in a row since a nonconference loss to begin the season.