Concordia University avenged an earlier season loss with a big 86-85 overtime win over Doane College on Wednesday evening in Seward. The Bulldogs improved to 13-7 overall and 7-5 in the GPAC with the victory. Concordia is now alone in sixth place in the conference standings. Doane slipped to 11-9 overall and 5-6 in conference play with the loss.
The first half remained close throughout. Doane built an early five point lead and led by as many as seven, while Concordia led by as many as six in the opening half. The visiting Tigers led by one (36-35) at halftime.
Doane was a perfect 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field in the opening half of play, but Concordia stayed in the game with four makes from behind the arc and 7-of-9 shooting at the foul line.
The Tigers again built an early six point lead in the second half, but Concordia continued to keep it close. The second half featured 10 ties, and neither team could pull away. With just over a minute remaining in regulation, Doane took a 75-73 lead on a layup by Taylor Oltjenbruns.
Following a timeout, Concordia tied the game at 75-75 on a layup by Porter Birtell (Madison, Neb.). On Doane’s following possession, Joshua Riser, who caused the Concordia defense trouble all night, scored in the paint to give the Tigers a 77-75 advantage with 15 seconds left in regulation.
Needing a score, Concordia looked to junior point guard Tyler Byrd (Bennington, Neb.) to make a play. With just three seconds left, Byrd scored on a tough jumper in the paint to tie the score at 77-77 and send the game to overtime.
“I saw the defense switch, and I knew I had to make a play,” remarked Byrd. “If nothing else, I wanted to at least get to the foul line. They played me tough. I was fortunate to make the shot and send it to overtime.”
The overtime period featured two ties and four lead changes. The Tigers scored the first four points of the period, but as was the case all night, Concordia continued to battle back.
Sam Huebner (Aurora, Colo.) had a huge night and controlled the overtime period, scoring seven of the nine Bulldog points. Huebner’s three point play gave Concordia an 82-81 lead with just under two minutes remaining. Following a pair of Doane College free throws, Byrd hit a jumper to give the Bulldogs an 84-83 advantage with a minute to go.
Following a pair of misses by Doane College, Huebner connected on two free throws to increase the Bulldog lead to three at 86-83 with 10 seconds left in the overtime period. Riser hit two free throws to pull Doane back within a point at 86-85 with five seconds remaining. Concordia missed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds. However, Riser missed a desperation 3-pointer, and Concordia held on for the dramatic win.
“We couldn’t afford to lose this game, and this really starts our week off right,” said Concordia head coach Grant Schmidt. “We still only have one loss at home, and this win gives us a little breathing room over a few teams in the conference standings.”
Concordia finished the game 30-of-62 (48.4 percent) from the field. The Bulldogs were 7-of-21 (33.3 percent) from long range and 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) at the foul line. Concordia completely controlled the glass and held a 45-28 rebounding advantage in the win.
Huebner had a career night with 29 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks in 43 minutes of action. The senior forward was 10-of-13 from the field and 9-of-12 at the foul line. “We were in a little bit of a slump heading into this game, so this is a big win in a rivalry game for us,” said Huebner. “We were angry after our first game against Doane earlier this season, and we really fought hard to get this one tonight.”
Byrd added 21 points, and Ryan Shrum (Allen, Texas) delivered 12. Porter Birtell, in his first game back from injury, scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Doane was 30-of-64 (46.9 percent) from the field in the loss. The Tigers were 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) from deep and 20-of-25 (80 percent) at the foul line. Doane, however, hit just 1-of-5 shots in the overtime period.
Riser scored a team-best 25 points and added seven assists for the Tigers. Nick Reed and Trent Schlautman added 18 and 15 points. Taylor Oltjenbruns scored 11, and Jake Johnson added 10 for Doane in the loss.
Concordia will take part in the CIT on Friday and Saturday in Michigan.
“Playing in the CIT is all about pride,” added Coach Schmidt. “We want to play well and hopefully build some confidence before we return for the final stretch of conference play.”