Series win streak ended in pulse-pounder at Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 10, 2022 in Men's Basketball

HASTINGS, Neb. – Two clutch treys in the closing minute allowed rival Hastings to erase a four-point deficit and break up the series stranglehold the Concordia University Men’s Basketball program previously held. Phil Cisrow’s 3-point field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining provided the final tallies as the Broncos won, 70-68, inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Saturday (Dec. 10). The Bulldogs had won 13 straight meetings with Hastings.

Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 8-3 overall (5-3 GPAC) while up against a vastly improved Bronco squad. No. 19 Concordia went 1-1 during a week that included an 86-64 home win over Mount Marty.

“Certainly we had some fight in that second half, but our message was that we just can’t come out that way in this league,” Limback said. “I give a lot of credit to Hastings. They outplayed and outcoached us in all areas in the first half.  Second half, we settled in but they hit a big shot down the stretch and we didn’t. We didn’t deserve this one. You hate to keep learning those lessons, but we have to be better from the start.”

The deficit ballooned to as many as 13 points before the Bulldogs stormed back and eventually took the lead (58-55) on Brad Bennett’s trey at the 7:21 mark of the second half. It became a GPAC white knuckler from there. In the final few minutes, both Gage Smith and Noah Schutte powered their way to three-point plays. The latter one by Smith made it a 68-64 Concordia lead heading into the final minute.

That’s when the Broncos broke Bulldog hearts with a triple apiece from Grady Corrigan and Cisrow. Concordia had one last chance down by two but had a potential game-tying shot blocked at the buzzer. Hastings point guard Reggie Thomas (24 points, eight rebounds and five assists) emerged as the star of the night. Not since Jan. 20, 2016, had the Bulldogs suffered a loss to the Broncos.

A switch to zone defense helped Concordia gain some traction, but Limback still left disappointed by the first half performance. Hastings led at the break, 37-26.

Said Limback, “We were just trying to get some momentum. Their point guard was doing really well and we were having problems keeping him out of the lane. We just tried to switch some things up, and it gave us a little momentum and allowed us to get in transition a little bit easier. It wasn’t enough. We still had too many turnovers and we have to look at what that was about. Valuing the ball is going to be a big key going forward and we have to fight through some of those screens defensively.”

The Broncos (10-2, 4-2 GPAC) overcame a 20-point outing for Schutte, who went 7-for-8 from the floor. Gage Smith finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Bennett and Garrett Seagren also reached double figures with 10 points apiece. Tristan Smith added seven points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots while AJ Watson contributed seven points and three assists. Concordia fell despite shooting 50 percent (27-for-54) from the floor and holding a 33-29 rebound advantage.

Hastings has already gone well beyond its total of seven wins in 2021-22. The starters played nearly all of the minutes for the Broncos, who got 14 points from Corrigan, 11 from Evan Kingston and 10 from Cisrow.

The Bulldogs will have a bit of a breather before entertaining Doane (7-5, 4-2 GPAC) inside Friedrich Arena on Thursday. Game time is set for 7:45 p.m. CT. In their most recent GPAC outing, the Tigers upset sixth-ranked Jamestown, 83-79, in North Dakota. Concordia defeated Doane in two of the three 2021-22 matchups with both victories coming at home.