Kent leads offensive fireworks as home dominance continues

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 4, 2021 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – It was an especially dizzying first half of action as both teams shot better than 58 percent from the floor. Behind Carter Kent, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team kept up its offensive pace while increasing its defensive intensity in the process of earning a 95-78 home win over Northwestern on Saturday (Dec. 4). Kent sizzled on his way to a career high 32 points and the Bulldogs built a lead as large as 21 points in the second half.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad effectively bounced back from the nail-biter loss at No. 18 Morningside three days earlier and has moved to 9-2 overall (4-2 GPAC). A re-commitment to defensive effort made the difference in the latest outing.

“That was our whole talk at halftime,” Limback said. “Offensively, we were really good. We were moving it and sharing it, and Carter was really good in both halves. Our message was that we have to defend. We were up 13 at one point in the first half and I thought we started to relax and get a little bored on the defensive end. Those are two really good players – (Trent) Hilbrands and (Alex) Van Kalsbeek. It’s tough to stop them, but we needed to slow them down a little bit better.”

The message was taken to heart. A 15-2 run to begin the second half blew open a 15-point lead (67-52). Five different Bulldogs scored during that run that included a three-point play by Justin Wiersema in transition. Unlike the first half, Concordia protected the lead by playing stout in its man-to-man. The Red Raiders slipped from 58.8 percent shooting in the first half to 29.0 percent in the second half.

Kent was impressive on both ends of the floor. It took him roughly 21 minutes of game time to reach the 20-point mark. He made 11-of-19 shots from the floor, grabbed five rebounds and two steals and managed to contain Hilbrands in the second half. Northwestern (8-4, 1-3 GPAC) did not get much production outside of Hilbrands and Van Kalsbeek.

Said Kent, “Coach came in and talked to us at halftime and said that we need to buckle down on the defensive end. They have great players. We just really locked in and tried to get stops and turn that into offense on the other side.”

All five starters scored at least eight points for the Bulldogs. Noah Schutte posted 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting, Wiersema finished with 14 points and four rebounds and Gage Smith collected 11 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. When it’s clicking, the Concordia offense is a thing of beauty. The Bulldogs wound up shooting 55.7 percent (34-for-61) overall and a near perfect 19-for-20 from the foul line. Kent and company also started the first half hot, racing out to a 19-6 advantage to start the game. Northwestern closed the gap to two (52-50) at halftime.

Limback couldn’t say enough about Kent after the game. Said Limback, “That was one of the best two-way performances I’ve ever seen from Carter. We decided in the second half, even though he was doing well offensively, to move him to Hilbrands, and I thought he did an outstanding job on him. You see the points, but there are a lot of other things Carter Kent can do.”

Van Kalsbeek paced Northwestern with 23 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Hilbrands posted 22 points on 7-for-17 shooting from the floor. The Red Raiders shot 44.6 percent for the game.

The Bulldogs now look forward to their final home game for the month of December. Concordia will welcome Mount Marty (3-10, 0-5 GPAC) to Friedrich Arena for a 7:45 p.m. CT tipoff on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have won each of the past three matchups with the Lancers, who are still in search of their first GPAC victory of the season.