SEWARD, Neb. – A return to the home court brought a return to high level play for the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team on Wednesday (Nov. 17). The Bulldogs were back to operating efficiently, shooting 54.0 percent from the floor in the process of claiming an 80-63 win over Midland inside Friedrich Arena. The Bulldogs constructed a lead as large as 20 and absorbed an 11-1 second half run by the Warriors.
Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad shook off what occurred four days earlier at Briar Cliff and earned its first GPAC win of the season. Concordia boosted its record to 6-1 overall (1-1 GPAC).
“I thought our guys played really hard defensively tonight and limited some of their clean looks,” Limback said. “The whole team was hungry. We wanted to play well today. It helps to be at home. Gage (Smith) was really good tonight and I thought Sam Scarpelli did some nice things off the bench. Those three guys (Carter Kent, Justin Wiersema and Smith) had really good nights offensively and it’s good to see them get back in a rhythm.”
It would certainly appear that last week’s rough shooting performance at Briar Cliff was an outlier. After going 1-for-21 from 3-point range last time out, the Bulldogs heated up to 12-for-23 from distance on Wednesday. Concordia never allowed Midland to grab a lead at any point and had control all evening. The Warriors did have a flicker of hope when they cut a 19-point deficit (63-44) down to nine (64-55) with 7:47 left. Back-to-back treys from Wiersema and Smith restored order. Midland could not stop Smith down the stretch.
The Elizabeth, Colo., native led all players with 24 points on the strength of 9-for-12 shooting from the floor. Wiersema added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He returned to the game after receiving a blow to the jaw. In addition, Kent chipped in 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals. Kent knocked home 11 points in the second half.
“We had a rough game on Saturday with Briar Cliff. You just have to forget about it and have a next-game mentality,” Smith said. “We came out and executed. We just trust each other. When we move the ball around the key, we’re hard to stop. Anyone of us can score.”
Concordia hopes this was the springboard to plenty more conference wins. Said Limback, “It’s a tough league. That team right there is going to win a lot of games. To come out here and defend home court is important. We want to keep that momentum going on Saturday.”
Midland (5-2, 0-1 GPAC) was held to 36.4 percent (20-for-55) shooting from the floor. Offensive output was tough to come by outside of Bo Sanquist (21 points) and Laurence Merritt (15 points). To make matters worse, the Warriors were outrebounded, 35-26.
Noah Schutte got his first career start and notched eight points on 3-for-5 shooting for the Bulldogs. Scarpelli went 2-for-2 from 3-point range off the bench and Tristan Smith contributed five points. Wiersema’s career point total now stands at 998.
Another conference road test is coming up on Saturday when the Bulldogs will be in Sioux Center, Iowa, to take on Dordt (6-2, 0-1 GPAC). The two sides split last two 2020-21 regular season meetings with the home team winning in both instances. The Defenders will be fresh off an 88-75 loss to No. 12 Morningside on Wednesday.