SEWARD, Neb. – It was Noah Schutte’s birthday bash and he wasn’t sharing any of the cake with Hastings. The Laurel-Concord-Coleridge High School product outscored the Broncos by himself in the opening half while surgically picking apart the opposition. The Concordia University Men’s Basketball team limited Hastings to 31.5 percent shooting in the 80-42 demolition inside Friedrich Arena on Wednesday (Jan. 25). The Bulldogs successfully avenged their mid-December loss at Hastings.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad shook off what had been a three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs (12-9, 8-7 GPAC) will carry positive vibes into the Concordia Invitational Tournament.
“Guys were locked in,” Limback said. “I told them after the game – that response is what champions do. We had a couple games where we didn’t get it done. We had some great meetings and some great talks. This was the response we all expected. I’m just proud of – especially defensively – how hard we competed. The attention to detail was outstanding today.”
It was Noah Schutte 17 and the Hastings Broncos 15 at halftime. Concordia owned an insurmountable 38-15 at that point. At the conclusion of 20 minutes, the Broncos were a miserable 6-for-23 (.261) from the floor and star guard Reggie Thomas had only two points. Schutte was mostly a spectator during the second half but finished with a game high 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor. Less than seven minutes after tipoff, the Bulldogs already owned a double-digit advantage.
Concordia made it a priority not to let Thomas get loose like he did in the first meeting when he tallied 24 points and led Hastings to a 70-68 victory. He did manage to total 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting, but none of his teammates reached double figures. The Bulldogs have stood out as one of the GPAC’s top defensive teams this season, and it looked like it again on Wednesday.
Said Schutte, “We kind of switched our game plan on Reggie from the first time we played them, but I think our defense was suffocating on them. They got frustrated and we forced 19 turnovers. We were able to get out and run a lot and get easy buckets.”
In strong outings, Gage Smith tallied 10 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds and Garrett Seagren collected 10 points and two steals. Notably, Jaxon Weyand made his first career start and contributed eight points, including four in the very early stages of the game as Concordia quickly build a sturdy advantage. In addition, Brad Bennett snared eight rebounds, Trey Scheef went 3-for-5 from 3-point range and Zac Kulus (seven points, two steals) and Kelly Vyhnalek (six points, four rebounds) pitched in off the bench. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent (28-for-56) from the floor and were an impressive 16-for-17 from the foul line.
After riding a bit of a rollercoaster over the past four weeks, the Bulldogs hope they’ve found a way to calm the waters. It doesn’t hurt to feed Schutte, who is fewer than 100 points away now from 1,000 in his Concordia career.
Said Limback, “Obviously Noah, birthday boy today, was good in both halves. He made the plays and got us going. I thought Jaxon took advantage and helped us get a lead early. He provides us with some speed. I really liked what he did for us. Gage looked healthy today. You can see his ability to pass and move. He’s so versatile. He’s kind of that unsung hero sometimes.”
The 70th Concordia Invitational Tournament will tip off on Friday from Friedrich Arena. In round one of the event, the Bulldogs will take on Concordia University Chicago (8-2) at 8 p.m. CT on Friday. CUNE will be attempting to claim the program’s 29th all-time CIT championship. For more details on CIT 2023, including ticket information, click HERE.