CRETE, Neb. – It’s sometimes akin to pulling teeth and it seems to always come down to the final minute when Concordia University Men’s Basketball visits Crete, Neb. The emotional highs and lows of the second half on Wednesday (Feb. 8) were felt in the form of a 10-point lead transitioning into a nine-point deficit for the Bulldogs. Behind milestone man Noah Schutte, Concordia pulled this one out of the fire, 85-79, defeating Doane, which entered the contest with a 7-4 home record.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad has won five of its last six outings with the only loss being this past Saturday’s 74-71 nail-biting defeat at the hands of Dordt. Concordia (16-10, 10-8 GPAC) hopes to make a push that will improve its chance of a national tournament at-large spot.
“This is a tough place to play. They’ve beaten some good teams here,” Limback said. “I thought in the first half we did some good things. Brady Timm was good in both halves. That second half, they had the big run. Even through that, Garrett Seagren had another great game. He just continues to build confidence offensively. Kelly Vyhnalek showed some great stuff and played really hard. Noah Schutte hits that big three, has a big momentum play and scores 1,000 points. He does the gritty work for us – I’m so proud of this team to come on the road and do this tonight.”
It took some switching of defensive tactics and impressive efficiency inside the arc for the Bulldogs to white-knuckle their way to victory. Concordia shot 62.5 percent (35-for-56) from the floor as the likes of Schutte and Garrett Seagren carved up the Tigers. Every bit of their production was needed on a night that saw the Bulldogs fall behind, 67-58, with less than eight minutes to play. Thankfully, Doane had no answers defensively.
Schutte and Seagren combined to score 20 of the team’s next 22 points over a game defining surge that put Concordia in front, 80-77, with just over a minute to play. Schutte curled in a 3-point field goal at the 2:27 mark to make it a 78-77 advantage (following a Schutte steal). The Bulldogs got one critical stop in the final 60 seconds and sealed the win as Brad Bennett and Schutte both went 2-for-2 from the foul line. Schutte finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds while Seagren piled up 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Said Limback, “They hit some threes in the second half and that really hurt us. We stayed with the zone and we were able to get some rebounds out of it. That led to some good transition for us. It was a fun game to be part of. Both teams had some runs but nice to see us close it out.”
During the first half, Schutte became the 34th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points (currently at 1,021). He’s scored at least 19 points in six-straight games. Bennett (16 points on 7-for-10 shooting) and Gage Smith (12 points and five assists) joined Schutte and Seagren in double figures. Vyhnalek chipped in with six points (3-for-3 from the floor) off the bench.
Meanwhile, Doane (10-15, 7-10 GPAC) shot 50.8 percent (30-for-59) from the field. Timm racked up 27 points on 10-for-20 shooting and fellow standout Alec Oberhauser posted 14 points and seven rebounds. The Tigers also dropped the matchup with Concordia in Seward, 74-61. Doane was hoping to knock off the Bulldogs at home as it did last season by a 54-50 score.
The Bulldogs will enjoy a weekend off from game action while looking forward to their final home game of the regular season, which will take place next Wednesday (Feb. 15). Briar Cliff (12-11, 6-10 GPAC) will be in town for a 7:45 p.m. CT tipoff inside Friedrich Arena. Last year’s contest in Seward between the two sides resulted in a memorable finish that saw Tristan Smith score the game winner at the buzzer.