SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – If the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team is to reach the heights it seeks in 2021-22, it must find ways to persevere on the road. A sharp performance offensively and a career high outing from Noah Schutte were just enough for the Bulldogs to hold off Dordt, 84-82, in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday (Nov. 20). Fittingly, it was Schutte who picked off an inbounds pass to seal the victory in a tension-filled final few seconds.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad failed to pass its first GPAC road test a week earlier, meaning Saturday's win at Dordt was an important step forward. Concordia has jumped out to a 7-1 overall record (2-1 GPAC).
“They’re a really good team. They wouldn’t go away,” Limback said of Dordt. “I felt like we were really good offensively tonight, and thankfully so because we didn’t guard consistently. Then Gage (Smith) gets in foul trouble and our depth inside is thin right now. I’m really proud though. Noah had a great game overall. Defensively, I thought AJ (Watson) did a nice job on their point guard. What a gutsy performance by both teams – and we were fortunate to win the game tonight.”
It’s rarely a picnic for any visiting team at De Witt Gymnasium. The Defenders roared back from a 10-point deficit with less than seven minutes remaining and had a look for a potential game-tying bucket in the closing 10 seconds. It was Schutte’s layup on a pretty feed from Watson with just over a minute left that provided enough cushion for the Bulldogs to eventually breathe a sigh of relief.
This was fun basketball featuring few turnovers (13 combined) for either side and a whole lot of shots that found the bottom of the net. Concordia shot 50 percent or better in both halves. Schutte is a rising star. Without two key posts (Ryan Holt and Klay Uher), Schutte came through with a career high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. Justin Wiersema also enjoyed a fine night in supplying 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Bulldogs shot 50.7 percent (34-for-67) from the floor and made 10-of-26 (.385) attempts from 3-point range.
Dordt (6-3, 0-2 GPAC) kept on coming. The Defenders were just as hot, shooting 50.8 percent (32-for-63) overall. Jacob Vis powered in 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while Cade Bleeker (15 points and 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double. Considering the lack of frontcourt depth, Concordia did well to only be outrebounded, 37-33.
Said Limback, “We knew it was going to be a physical game. We made some mistakes, but we played through it. I’m just so proud of the guys and how they weathered the storm. You have to find ways to get road wins. Tonight our offense won the game for us. Justin gets his 1,000th point – what a fun day.”
Entering the night, Wiersema needed just two points to become the program’s 33rd member of the 1,000-point club. That group includes teammate Carter Kent, who contributed 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting on Saturday. Meanwhile, Smith posted 16 points and five rebounds despite being limited to 19 minutes due to foul trouble. Watson added 10 points and four assists without a single turnover. Their collective offensive firepower had the Bulldogs in control for the majority of the night.
A major opportunity to make a splash awaits on Tuesday when Concordia will host No. 10 Jamestown (7-0, 1-0 GPAC) at 7:45 p.m. CT inside Friedrich Arena. The Jimmies went on to reach the NAIA national quarterfinals last season behind conference player of the year Mason Walters. The two sides split the two 2020-21 matchups with the home team holding serve in both cases.