GPAC win streak moves to four with gutsy OT squeaker at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 9, 2023 in Men's Basketball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – There have been some Concordia-Briar Cliff heartstoppers of the recent past. Chalk this one up as another classic down-to-the-wire affair in the series history. In Saturday (Dec. 9)’s clash inside the Newman Flanagan Center, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team relinquished a late lead in regulation and then scored the first five points of overtime while claiming an 86-82 road win over the Chargers. Noah Schutte did his usual Noah Schutte things in tallying 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad has won four-straight outings inside conference play while moving to 7-2 overall (4-2 GPAC). The week on the road also included an 82-54 blowout of Mount Marty.

“We were joking, Coach (Mark) Svagera and I, before the game about how we’ve had some wild finishes and some blowouts,” Limback said. “Certainly this was a very entertaining game. I give them a lot of credit. I thought they were tough in tough moments and hit some big threes. Noah Schutte was relentless. He was gassed in overtime and kept grinding. Tristan (Smith) made some big defensive plays. We had others step up – Jaxon (Weyand) with the big three and Zac Kulus was awesome today. This was a gutsy win on a day when we had 25 turnovers.”

‘Gutsy’ is a good way to put it considering the Bulldogs were minus-12 in turnover margin and went a modest 7-for-24 (.292) from 3-point range. Concordia also lost hold of the lead in the final minute of regulation when Quinn Vessey tied the game, 67-67, on a trey. However, the most consequential triple of the afternoon came from Weyand, who delivered a perimeter jumper to push Concordia’s overtime lead to 72-67. Down the stretch of OT, Schutte played like the superstar he is. He broke a 78-78 deadlock with a triple and later put home two more on a crucial basket in the paint.

Down three at the end of the extra session, the Chargers (9-4, 3-3 GPAC) had one last gasp. Leading scorer Matthew Stilwill missed a jumper that was fittingly rebounded by Schutte, who then made one free throw to seal it. The result marked Concordia’s first overtime win as a program since taking an 81-74 decision at Northwestern on Jan. 2, 2021.

Both Schutte (11-for-15 from the floor and 11-for-13 from the foul line) and Smith (14 points, 11 rebounds, four steals) came away with double-doubles. Their production combined with solid defensive play (40.8 percent shooting for Briar Cliff) and a large rebound advantage (39-25) made the difference. Charger guard Matthew Stilwill entered the night leading the nation in scoring but was limited to five points on 2-for-13 shooting. The defensive assignment on Stilwell went to Brad Bennett and Lukas Helms.

Said Limback, “I thought first half we were really good defensively. In the second half, we got a little tired. I thought our gaps got a little more strung out and they got more paint touches. Any time you give up paint touches to these guys, they’re getting kick-out threes. They made us pay for that. They’ve had four guys score over 30 points this year, so they can fill it up. We just found a way on a day when we weren’t great taking care of the ball.”

Bennett finished with 12 points and three assists in 38 minutes of action. Off the bench, Kulus supplied 10 points while going 4-for-8 from the floor. On the other end, Briar Cliff got a team high 23 points from Wil Lugar and Blake Sindelar posted 18 points. The Chargers made 11-of-32 (.344) tries from long range.

The Bulldogs will have a break from game action as final exams become the focus of next week. Up next on the schedule is the Big Island Holiday Classic. While in Hilo, Hawaii, Concordia will go up against NCAA Division II San Francisco State University on Dec. 17 and NAIA member Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) on Dec. 18. This will be the program’s first appearance in Hawaii since December 2019.