SEWARD, Neb. – On an evening when neither team shot the ball well from the perimeter, the 23rd-ranked Concordia University Men’s Basketball team outmuscled Midland on the interior. A 64-43 rebound advantage helped the Bulldogs roll to another dominant home victory. Noah Schutte powered home a game high 20 points as Concordia won, 83-47, inside Friedrich Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 16).
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad looked the part of a nationally ranked team once again as it improved to 4-0 this season and extended the home win streak to 23.
“I saw that number (of rebounds) and thought that was how many threes we missed,” Limback joked. “It kind of goes hand in hand. I told our team afterwards, it’s really hard when you’re not offensively in rhythm to still guard. I felt like our effort defensively and on the glass was really good tonight. That takes discipline and mental toughness. Midland’s a team that had some nice wins and played some good competition. Despite the shooting woes, I felt like we controlled the game from start to finish.”
This was a second straight conference game that saw the Bulldogs wrangle the opposition into an early vise grip. The 3-point shots weren’t falling (8-for-35 for the game) for Concordia, but it didn’t matter because the frontcourt of Schutte and the Smith brothers (Gage and Tristan) ate well on Wednesday. Offensive rebounds were a major theme in the first half as the Bulldogs built a 27-7 lead by the 8:16 mark of the first half. Schutte came up one rebound shy of a double-double while double-double machine Gage Smith posted 10 points and 12 rebounds. Tristan Smith contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
The final score may not show it, but this was a helter-skelter high possession affair. Concordia went 27-for-73 (.370) from the floor while Midland went 17-for-72 (.236). The aggressiveness of the Bulldogs resulted in 24 free throw tries (made 21) and seven blocked shots on the defensive end. On a normal night, Concordia likely gets into triple digits in this type of contest. These Bulldogs can play in a track meet, and they can play in a slugfest.
Said Schutte, “I like where we’re at. Defensively, I think we’re where we need to be, but we have to take it one game at a time. We have a tough one on Saturday to prepare for … We all know rankings right now don’t really matter. We just have to bring it every game and prove to people what we’re about.”
The Laurel, Neb., native Schutte has been about as efficient as any player in the nation in averaging 20.3 points on 74.4 percent shooting through the first four games of this season. There were plenty of other contributors on Wednesday. Eleven different Bulldogs grabbed at least one rebound. AJ Watson posted nine points while Brad Bennett (nine points, four rebounds) and Joel Baker (eight points, five rebounds) chipped in significantly off the bench. In addition, Garrett Seagren continues to draw praise from Limback for his defensive play.
Midland (4-2, 0-1 GPAC) did not have a single player score in double figures. Emanuel Bryson and Ryan Larsen both had nine points. Said Limback, “We wanted to keep them out of the paint. Larsen is a great scorer, and we wanted to make him make some tough shots. Garrett’s defense sets the tone for us. We knew coming in they were going to use a lot of ball screens and try to get it in the paint, and I thought we did a good job protecting a lot of that.”
The Bulldogs will be back on the road on Saturday for a trip to Sioux Center, Iowa, and a 3:45 p.m. CT matchup with Dordt (5-1, 0-1 GPAC). The experienced Defenders bring back all five of their 2021-22 all-conference award winners. Concordia swept last season’s two regular season meetings from Dordt.