SEWARD, Neb. – After a rough start to conference play, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team will seek to bounce back this week as it looks forward to matchups at home with Midland and on the road at Dordt. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad had improved to 5-0 with a dramatic win over Peru State College prior to suffering a 65-48 defeat at Briar Cliff in the GPAC opener. The Bulldogs remained ranked third in the official GPAC ratings released on Monday on the NAIA website.
By the numbers
· The 5-0 start equaled the best five-game stretch to begin a season during Limback’s tenure that began with the 2013-14 season. Through six games, Concordia is averaging 79.8 points per game while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor, 29.1 percent from 3-point range and 69.2 percent from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Bulldog opponents are averaging 68.2 points per game and shooting 43.3 percent from the field, 38.6 percent from the foul line and 63.9 percent from the free throw line. Concordia’s offensive numbers took a hit with a 1-for-21 effort from 3-point range in the loss at Briar Cliff.
· The victory over Peru State featured a comeback from eight points down in the second half (after the Bulldogs led by 12 points in the first half). It was a career day for fifth-year player Ryan Holt, who poured in 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. Holt emerged as the hero when he drained the game-winning trey in the final seconds of the 91-90 home win over the Bobcats. Four teammates joined Holt in double figures in scoring: Carter Kent (19), Gage Smith (18), Noah Schutte (13) and AJ Watson (10). Schutte followed it up with 16 points and seven rebounds at Briar Cliff.
· Justin Wiersema enters the week with a chance to add his name to the program’s list of 1,000-point scorers. His current total stands at 980 through 89 career collegiate games. Wiersema’s game took off last season when he averaged 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game and was named First Team All-GPAC. Among active players, Kent’s 1,238 points are the most. That total puts Kent 19th in program history, just behind current graduate assistant coach Brevin Sloup (1,246).
· Three GPAC conference games took place over the weekend with Briar Cliff, Doane and Morningside producing wins. Concordia entered this season believing it could contend for the GPAC regular season title after tying for third place in 2020-21. Last season’s team equaled a program record for GPAC wins in a single season with 14. A new set of NAIA national rankings will be released on Wednesday. Currently, No. 12 Morningside and No. 19 Jamestown are the lone GPAC teams ranked inside the NAIA top 25.
Midland has started out 5-1 with the lone loss being a double overtime defeat at Grand View University (Iowa). The Warriors are averaging 85.2 points per game behind top scorers Laurence Merritt (16.0) and Bo Sandquist (15.7). Midland last reached the national tournament in 2017 but has finished below .500 in the GPAC in each season since then.
Dordt has won six in a row since falling in overtime to William Penn University (Iowa). The Defenders will get a stiff test on Wednesday with a trip to No. 12 Morningside. Three Defender players are averaging 14.0 or more points per game: Bryce Coppock (15.7), Cade Bleeker (14.1) and Jacob Vis (14.0). Brian Van Haaften’s program is coming off an 18-8 (13-7 GPAC) campaign last season.
The Bulldogs will welcome No. 19 Jamestown to Friedrich Arena on Nov. 23 for a 7:45 p.m. CT tipoff. Concordia will have the remainder of Thanksgiving week off from game action.