Four-game GPAC win streak snapped in game of catch-up at Jamestown

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 3, 2024 in Men's Basketball

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – The Concordia University Men’s Basketball team never could recover from a rough start in its first outing of the year 2024. The Bulldogs faced an 18-4 deficit right out of the chute, trailed by as many as 22 points in the opening half and played catch-up all night in what resulted in an 89-79 loss at red hot Jamestown on Wednesday (Jan. 3). While a four-game GPAC win streak ended for Concordia, the host Jimmies moved their win streak to six.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad was unable to continue this season’s road success (now 5-2 in true road games). The Bulldogs slipped to 9-4 overall (4-3 GPAC).

“That’s a good basketball team,” Limback said of Jamestown. “Their guards are all upperclassmen and strong. We knew that coming in, I just don’t think we played well offensively early in the game. We didn’t take good shots and settled for too much from the perimeter. We let that affect our defense and they got it going. They’re really good at home and shoot it well. We dug a huge, huge hole.”

Behind another double-double from Tristan Smith (20 points, 13 rebounds), Concordia attempted to pull off a feat similar to the one it achieved in February of 2020 when it rallied from 18 points down in the second half to win in overtime at Jamestown. In the latest matchup, the Bulldogs sprung to life with a frenetic 7-0 run in the final 20 seconds of the first half. Instead of trailing by 20-plus, Concordia found itself down 48-33 at the break.

A bucket by Smith at the 5:47 mark of the second half slashed the Jamestown lead to just five (71-66). Seconds later, a steal by Smith led to a pair of free throws by Brooks Kissinger, closing the Bulldogs within three (73-70). Concordia then endured a scoreless stretch of more than three minutes and allowed the Jimmies to go on an 8-0 run and seal the victory.

Jamestown (8-7, 3-4 GPAC) got 20 points from Silas Bennion and double figures from a total of five players. The Jimmies made seven of their first 10 attempts from 3-point range and finished shooting 50 percent (31-for-62) from the floor and 86.4 percent (19-for-22) from the foul line. Jimmy Llinas notched a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for a squad that has not lost since it left Friedrich Arena on Dec. 2.

Despite being whistled for three fouls in the first half, Smith managed to play 28 minutes as he recorded a second double-double in a row. The always reliable Noah Schutte posted 18 points, six rebounds and two steals. Off the bench, freshmen Tyler Harre and Jaxon Stueve both dropped in 12 points. Stueve also added four assists and four steals to his stat line. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 41.2 percent (28-for-68) from the floor and 28.6 percent (10-for-35) from long distance. Rebounds and turnovers were roughly even among the two sides.

Said Limback, “We started to get some momentum in the second half and got hot from three and got to the free throw line. I’m pleased with the effort in the second half. I thought we played much better. You just can’t start like that on the road. We have to bounce back.”

The team’s first home game since Dec. 2 will take place on Saturday when Dakota Wesleyan (8-7, 3-4 GPAC) makes a visit to Friedrich Arena. Tipoff is slated for 3:45 p.m. CT in what will be the first of two meetings this season between the two sides. In Wednesday’s action, the Tigers were clipped, 90-89, by nonconference opponent Viterbo University (Wis.).