2017-2018 Men's Basketball

17-13 Overall | 8-10 GPAC | Season Stats


Men's basketball pegged eighth in GPAC preseason poll

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Just 11 days out from the opening of the 2017-18 Concordia hoops season, the GPAC released its preseason men’s basketball coaches’ poll on Thursday (Oct. 19). The Bulldogs picked up 28 points in the poll, slotting them in at the No. 8 position. Last season head coach Ben Limback’s squad tied for fifth in the conference.

Concordia returns two starters, junior guard Chris Johnstone and sophomore wing Tanner Shuck, from the 2016-17 team that went 21-10 overall for the program’s most wins since the 2004-05 campaign. The current roster is filled with youth. Just one senior and one junior make up this winter’s squad. The Bulldogs said goodbye to senior starters Seth Curran, All-American Chandler Folkerts and sharpshooting guard Eli Ziegler.

Under Limback, Concordia has been on an upward trajectory, going from eight wins in 2013-14, to 16 in 2014-15 to 18 in 2015-16 to 21 last season. The program continues to seek its first national tournament berth since 2005.

The season is set to open up Monday, Oct. 30 with a trip to Kansas Wesleyan University. Tipoff from Salina, Kan., is set for 7 p.m. CT.

2017-18 GPAC Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Northwestern – 78 (7)
2. Dakota Wesleyan – 73 (2)
3. Briar Cliff – 61 (1)
4. Morningside – 57
5. Midland – 54
6. Hastings – 38
7. Dordt – 33
8. Concordia – 28
9. Doane – 18
10. Mount Marty – 9

Season preview: 2017-18 Concordia men's basketball

2016-17 Record: 21-10 overall, 10-8 GPAC (T-5th)
Head Coach: Ben Limback (at Concordia: 63-58, four years; career: 178-216, 13 years)
Returning Starters: Chris Johnstone (Jr.); Tanner Shuck (So.)
Other Key Returners: Jake Hornick (So.); Kyle Pierce (Sr.); Clay Reimers (So.)
Key Newcomers: Ryan Holt; Alex May; Noah Valasek
Key Losses: Seth Curran; Justin Damme; Chandler Folkerts; Eli Ziegler 
2016-17 GPAC All-Conference: Chandler Folkerts (first team; defensive player of the year); Eli Ziegler (second team); Seth Curran (honorable mention)
2016-17 NAIA All-America: Chandler Folkerts (second team) 

The days of All-American Chandler Folkerts roaming the paint or sharpshooting guard Eli Ziegler slinging treys are now in the rearview mirror. Folkerts and Ziegler helped make the Bulldogs one of the top offensive teams in the nation in 2016-17. Down the stretch, Concordia won nine of 10 games, including a memorable overtime upset at seventh-ranked Dakota Wesleyan.

Only one senior (Kyle Pierce) and one junior (Chris Johnstone) make up this season’s varsity roster. A youth movement has taken hold, bringing about a rotation loaded with sophomores. Things will look a bit different in head coach Ben Limback’s fifth season leading the program.

“This team is going to be different,” Limback said. “We don’t have The Chanimal. We don’t have some of the guys that have been around for three or four years to depend on. I don’t like using youth as a crutch. I feel like youth can be used as an incentive to have a chip on your shoulder. I think this group is very hungry.”

Combatting the lack of upperclassmen is a well-stocked sophomore group. Its development will be crucial in regards to whether the Bulldogs can outperform the expectations of outsiders (picked eighth in the GPAC preseason poll). Though Folkerts and Ziegler have graduated, Concordia packs potential star power in the form of 6-foot-4 wing Tanner Shuck and 6-foot-7 long-armed Clay Reimers. One of the top shooters in the nation as a redshirt freshman, Shuck ranked 13th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.463) last season.

A Grand Island High School product, Shuck recorded 74 of his 103 field goals from behind the 3-point line last season. Expected to take on an increased scoring role this winter, Shuck is focused on morphing his game in the way that Ziegler did. The Bulldogs will need him to be a more versatile scorer and an improved defender.

“He had a tremendous summer,” Limback said. “He stuck around here in Seward and worked on his strength and conditioning levels. He’s in really good shape right now. He knows he’ll be more of a marked man this year without Chandler and Eli out there. I think he’s ready for that challenge. I think he’s developed his game beyond just shooting threes. He’ll need to provide some scoring for us. He’s versatile. He’s 6-4, he’s long and he can defend multiple positions.”

Reimers appears to possess the most tantalizing potential of anyone on the roster. After feeling his way through the early part of his rookie season, Reimers turned a corner late in the campaign. He took off over the final eight games, averaging 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting an otherworldly 75.9 percent from the floor. The Lincoln Southeast High School product isn’t afraid to throw it down with authority.

“Clay Reimers is an extremely dynamic player,” Limback said. “He has the ability to get a rebound and take it the length of the floor. He has the ability to defend point guards all the way to the five man. He’s a special kid. He’s starting to learn and understand the daily competition, how to compete every day and get the most out of his game. I’m really excited about Clay. He did really come on at the end of the year.”

Reimers is fully capable of running the floor in an up-tempo style. Some within the program have hinted that the Bulldogs may try to push the pace even more than last season when they averaged a school record 88.7 points per game. In order to run such a frenetic style, a reliable point guard must emerge. Chris Johnstone gave it a whirl at times last season, but he is more likely to play off the ball. He shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range in his first campaign at Concordia after transferring from Chaminade University.

Perhaps the point guard spot will also be filled by a sophomore. One candidate is Jake Hornick, a gritty defender who averaged 5.1 points and played 18.5 minutes per game as a freshman. Pierce has seen enough progress in practice to believe the pieces have been assembled to allow for some necessary stylistic tweaks.

“This year we have a much different style of play,” Pierce said. “We’ve always had an up-tempo style of play. I think we’ll be even more up-tempo this year. Our four- and five-men this year are going to be a lot smaller this year. For me personally, it’s just been a learning process to learn the new offense that we’ve gone through. It’s not so much to throw it in the post. We want to get the ball moving and get up and down.”

We’re not yet through discussing those sophomores. Several others that saw time last year could be in line for increased roles, such as: 6-foot-2 Cordell GIllingham, 5-foot-9 Brevin Sloup and 6-foot Riley Tegtmeier. They all got acclimated to the college game last season, though none of them played in more than 21 of the team’s 31 games. The large group of second-year players forms the backbone of the team for 2017-18 and beyond. Said Pierce, “They’re only going to get better. They’re only going to get stronger and more confident. We’re going to expect big things from them this year for sure.”

The roster is chalk full of two guards and wings after the departures of the 6-foot-8 Folkerts and 6-foot-10 Justin Damme. Openings abound in the post. That means 6-foot-9 freshman Alex May from Arvada, Colo., will get a shot. The same goes for 6-foot-7 sophomore Zach Friel.

If the post players need time to develop, Limback could choose to go with more of a guard-oriented lineup. It won’t be easy to duplicate last season’s 3-point field goal percentage (.414) that ranked second best among all NAIA Division II teams, but the 2017-18 Bulldogs still appear to have several threats from long range. Even the big guy Reimers likes to step out and shoot. He made each of his last five attempts of last season from beyond the 3-point arc.

There are certainly plenty of unknowns entering the new season. The questions will begin to be answered on Monday, Oct. 30 when Concordia opens up the campaign with a trip to Kansas Wesleyan University. The program is still hankering for a national tournament bid that has eluded it since 2005.

Says Limback, “We’re competitive and we’ll play hard. That’s the expectation. The execution side of the things is what we’re struggling with right now. For us to be a great basketball team we’re going to have to have a better understanding of the details that go into that preparation and not just expecting to compete and play hard and that’s going to take care of it. I think it’s in there. The biggest keys are staying healthy and being detailed enough to execute with a young group.”

Bulldogs rally for season opening victory at Kansas Wesleyan

SALINA, Kan. – Staring at a 10-point second half deficit, a sophomore-laden Concordia University men’s basketball team got an immediate dose of adversity on the road. Despite a cold shooting first half, the Bulldogs snatched a 75-72 win at Kansas Wesleyan University in a wire-to-wire season opener for both squads in Salina, Kan., on Monday evening. Concordia sophomore point guard Jake Hornick dropped in a career high 23 points for the victors.

This is exactly the type of start fifth-year head coach Ben Limback would have hoped for after saying goodbye to three starters from last season’s 21-win team.

“I was proud of our guys for hanging in there,” said Limback in a postgame interview with 104.9 Max Country. “Certainly, offensively we didn’t shoot well tonight. In the first half we got sped up a little bit and were rushing through some things. You expect that early in the season. Second half, I thought we did better. We got the ball inside more.”

The Bulldogs fell behind 57-47 with under 10 minutes remaining in a sluggish opening to the second half. That’s when the likes of Hornick and fellow sophomore Clay Reimers emerged with big performances. Reimers tallied nine of his 21 points over the final eight minutes. Meanwhile, Hornick helped seal the game at the free throw line down the stretch.

A quick 8-0 spurt that turned a 66-59 deficit into a 67-66 Bulldog lead proved absolutely critical. That run ended when junior Chris Johnstone beat the shot clock buzzer with a long triple. Next trip down the court, sophomore Brevin Sloup buried a trey deep on the left wing for a 72-68 lead with less than 30 ticks showing on the clock. Allen Rashun of Kansas Wesleyan followed with a three of his own, but the Coyotes mustered just a single point in the waning seconds.

“We had to regroup,” Limback said of the slow start after halftime. “We came out of the half and didn’t execute what we had talked about. We wanted to go inside more to Clay and Kyle (Pierce) because we felt like they had some good moments in the first half. That’s going to be a learning process for these guys.

“I really loved how Jake Hornick handled consistent full-court pressure and got us into our offense. He made a lot of things happen for us.”

The lion’s share of the offensive production came from three players. Hornick, Reimers and Pierce (16 points) combined for 60 of the team’s 75 points. Concordia went 3-for-19 from 3-point range before Johnstone and Sloup sunk its final two attempts from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs shot 44.3 percent (27-for-61) from the field compared to 47.5 percent (29-for-61) by Kansas Wesleyan.

Hornick also added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in 37 minutes of action. His play in the backcourt will be a key moving forward. Said Limback, “He’s a guy who has really stepped up this preseason. He’s really becoming a leader. He’s just a competitor. He wants to win.”

Kansas Wesleyan finished at 13-17 overall last season but has a whole new look in 2017-18 with a roster heavy on transfers. Cloud Community College transfer Jordan McNelly enjoyed a big debut for the Coyotes, going for game highs of 25 points and eight rebounds. Though McNelly and company outrebounded Concordia 39-28, their biggest problem was a minus-eight (18-11) turnover margin.

The Bulldogs will make their home debut this weekend as part of the 18th annual Cattle Classic on the Concordia University campus. As part of Friday’s action, the Bulldogs will take on Mount Mercy University (Iowa), a member of the NAIA’s Heart of America Athletic Conference. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT.

Previewing the 18th annual men's basketball Cattle Classic

SEWARD, Neb. – The 18th annual Cattle Classic is set to tip off on Friday afternoon inside Walz Arena. The basketball classic features a total of four men’s games and four women’s games over the course of the two-day extravaganza. The event, co-sponsored by Concordia and The Cattle National Bank & Trust Co., raises money and food for the Blue Valley Community Action's Food Pantry. Pac N Save of Seward will match all canned food donations.

Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods in exchange for admission. Ten canned items will get an adult a weekend pass. Complete admission information for the Cattle Classic can be found HERE.


Friday, Nov. 3

  • Women: Doane University vs. University of St. Francis (Ill.), 1 p.m.
  • Men: Midland University vs. Evangel University (Mo.), 3 p.m.
  • Women: Concordia vs. Viterbo University (Wis.), 6 p.m.
  • Men: Concordia vs. Mount Mercy University (Iowa), 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 4

  • Women: Doane University vs. Viterbo University (Wis.), 10 a.m.
  • Men: Midland University vs. Mount Mercy University (Iowa), 12 p.m.
  • Women: Concordia vs. University of St. Francis (Ill.), 3 p.m.
  • Men: Concordia vs. Evangel University (Mo.), 5 p.m.

The Men’s Field

Concordia University
Head coach: Ben Limback, 5th season
2017-18 Record: 1-0
2016-17 Record: 21-10
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference
Location: Seward, Neb.
Top Player: This is to be determined for a team that started four sophomores and one senior in its season opening win at Kansas Wesleyan University on Monday. Based on that outing, second-year players Jake Hornick (career high 23 points) and Clay Reimers (21 points) have a leg up on their teammates. Reimers simply carried over his impressive play from the end of his freshman campaign. Another sophomore, Tanner Shuck, could also jump into the conversation. He did not score at Kansas Wesleyan, but finished last season as the nation’s 13th best 3-point shooter (.463).
Overview: That large sophomore class will have a big say as to whether Concordia outperforms its eighth-place slotting in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs are still feeling things out after saying goodbye to one of the program’s all-time greats in Chandler Folkerts in addition to sharpshooting guard Eli Ziegler. The good news is that Hornick looked comfortable in his new role at the point and Reimers appears primed to realize his star potential. The lone senior is Kyle Pierce, who equaled a career best with 16 points at Kansas Wesleyan. This weekend will provide a good barometer for head coach Ben Limback, who is beginning his fifth season leading the Bulldogs.

Evangel University
Head coach: Steve Jenkins, 36th season
2017-18 Record: 0-0
2016-17 Record: 13-17
Conference: Heart of America Athletic Conference
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Top Player: The Crusaders graduated 2016-17 second team all-conference performer Nick Yocum, leaving senior wing Cody Geiger as the team’s lone returning player that earned some form of all-conference accolades last season. In his first three seasons at Evangel, Geiger has totaled 737 points and 243 rebounds over 61 career games. He was the team’s second leading scorer last season with an average of 12.5 points per game. Geiger owns a career field goal percentage of 55.4.
Overview: It’s difficult to get a read on any team that has yet to play a game this season. Head coach Steve Jenkins’ squad was picked by league coaches to finish 10th out of 13 teams in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Under Jenkins, Evangel has been a consistent winner, capturing seven conference championships while reaching the national tournament 13 times. A 36-year veteran leader of the Crusaders, Jenkins owns a career record of 651-468. Jenkins brought in 10 new players, including Missouri Baptist University transfer guard Luke Call, who averaged 9.8 points last season.

Midland University
Head coach: Oliver Drake, 3rd season at Midland (spent five seasons at Ashford University)
2017-18 Record: 0-0
2016-17 Record: 21-10
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference
Location: Fremont, Neb.
Top Player: Midland lost a boatload of its scoring from last season’s national tournament qualifier, but has restocked its roster with transfers. A new top player seems likely to emerge from that group. The leading returner scorer is guard Chase Parsons, a key piece off the bench in 2016-17. Parsons averaged 9.0 points and shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range.
Overview: We’ll know a lot more after this weekend. The Warriors lost a combined 48.0 points per game due to the departures of Alex Starkel (16.2), Diamontae McKinley (16.0) and Damon Overton (15.8). Midland was picked fifth in the GPAC preseason poll, which means league coaches are banking on Oliver Drake’s ability to reload with transfers. One transfer to watch is former Marygrove College (Mich.) guard T.K. Dixson. He averaged 13.1 points and shot 39.6 percent from 3-point range last season at Marygrove. Dixson and company figure to be competitive within the GPAC once again.

Mount Mercy University
Head coach: Aaron Jennings, 3rd season
2017-18 Record: ­0-0
2016-17 Record: 21-12
Conference: Heart of America Athletic Conference
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Top Player: First team all-conference forward Ben Struss and second team all-conference forward CJ Parker have moved on after leading the Mustangs to the NAIA Division I national tournament last season. Those departures will likely lead to more of a starring role for junior guard Antwain Strong, who averaged 10.0 points and shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range while mostly coming off the bench in 2016-17. Of course, the wild cards are the many transfers that make up the 2017-18 roster.
Overview: The Mustangs have won 74 games over the past three seasons as a nationally respected program within the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Mount Mercy will pose a significant challenge for the Bulldogs on Friday night. Head coach Aaron Jennings actually guided the Mount Mercy women’s program for seven seasons before coming over to the men’s side. Last season the Mustangs were 3-point happy, making 305 of them for the 12th most in NAIA Division I. While Jennings often went 10 or 11 deep in his rotation, the majority of those players have departed. Mount Mercy was picked ninth in the preseason HAAC poll after finishing in a tie for second in 2016-17.

Sophomore flurry wipes out Mount Mercy

SEWARD, Neb. – A white hot 10-minute stretch of action during the second half provided flashbacks of the offensive efficiency the Concordia University men’s basketball team showed off throughout the 2016-17 season. It’s been only two games, but this Bulldog sophomore bunch appears to have crazy potential. The likes of second-year players Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers piloted Concordia to a 96-81 win over visiting Mount Mercy University (Iowa) on Friday evening (Nov. 3) in what was day one of the 18th annual Cattle Classic.

Four days after rallying from a 10-point deficit for victory at Kansas Wesleyan University, fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad knocked off a Mustang squad that earned a bid to the 2017 NAIA Division I national tournament.

“Offensively we started to make some shots and really open it up,” Limback said. “Defensively we had to go zone on them because they were too athletic and quick. We were getting beat in the first half with some easy buckets. I thought the zone helped us play a little harder on the wings and get more deflections. We came out with a nice win over a good team.”

A product of Lincoln East High School, Reimers appears ready to fill the role of star post player that had been vacated by All-American Chandler Folkerts. Reimers put up 25 points and 10 rebounds while throwing down several emphatic flushes. At the point, it was a second-straight stellar outing for Hornick, who totaled 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

For Concordia (2-0) to enjoy a successful season, it will have to get plenty of production from a sophomore class that holds down four spots in the starting lineup.

“We are a young team and I think we can use that as an advantage,” Reimers said. “We’re not going to be the ones to be punched first. We’re going to go out there and punch them first. We’ve got a lot of fight and we’re going to prove that throughout the whole game.”

The second half treated fans to an offensive display that got started with a 10-0 run punctuated by a Kyle Pierce drive and flush. Concordia led 52-45. Seven minutes later, the lead bulged to 19 (75-56) at the 9:50 mark. Included in that sequence were three possessions that went: Hornick trey, Brevin Sloup trey, Zach Friel trey. It was a knockout blow to the Mustangs (1-1).

After being held scoreless at Kansas Wesleyan, sophomore Tanner Shuck got going in the second half and finished with 14 points (4-for-7 from 3-point range). Off the bench, Friel contributed nine points and four rebounds and Sloup chipped in eight points. Piece recorded nine points and seven rebounds for a team that shot 53.7 percent (36-for-67) compared to 50.0 percent (33-for-66) by Mount Mercy.

Individually, it was Reimers that stole the show with his moves in the post. Said Limback, “He had a great second half. He had some foul trouble, but I felt like he played through that and just attacked the basket. He’s got the ability to do a lot of things for us and he’s got to continue that.”

The Mustangs, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, got a team high 18 points from Jake Anderson. Mike Evans added 15 points and five rebounds.

In the final game of this year’s Cattle Classic, the Bulldogs will go head-to-head with Evangel University (Mo.), a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. In the Crusaders’ season opener in Seward on Friday, they dropped a 74-70 battle with Midland. Saturday’s tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. CT inside Walz.

Hornick pilots Concordia to 3-0 start

SEWARD, Neb. – Through the first three games of the early season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team has proven it can win in a variety of ways. Even when the offense went stale, the Bulldogs tightened the screws on defense and held off a late rally from visiting Evangel University (Mo.) in a 75-69 win on Saturday evening (Nov. 4) as part of the 18th annual Cattle Classic.

So far so good in regards to sophomore Jake Hornick’s new role as a point guard. The native of Loveland, Colo., has now steered fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad to a 3-0 start. This one was a grinder.

“We really rely on our defense a lot,” Hornick said. “About the five-minute mark, our offense really wasn’t getting anything at all, but we really got on the defensive end. Riley (Tegtmeier) did really well locking down 15 (Luke Call). Cordell (Gillingham) had a good game defensively and Tanner (Shuck) as well when he guarded 24 (Justin Washington).”

With 12:10 remaining in the game, Concordia held a 59-49 lead. With just 28 seconds left, that advantage had been whittled down to just two (71-69) after a pair of Jalen Norman free throws. With the calmness of a veteran, Hornick followed by knocking down two from the charity stripe and a stop on the other end sealed a second-straight victory over a NAIA Division I opponent.

Hornick and fellow sophomore Clay Reimers have been undeniably impressive in the early going. Both were named to the All Cattle-Classic team on Saturday. In the latest victory, Hornick contributed 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He’s now averaging exactly 20 points per game. Meanwhile, Reimers collected 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

The budding sophomore class was responsible for 65 of the team’s 75 tallies.

“Looking back a year ago, some of these guys weren’t even getting any varsity time at all,” Hornick said. “We all got together this summer and worked really hard together. We just want it bad. I think we’re a special group and we’re going to go a long way.”

Evangel (0-2), a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, is coming off a 13-17 season in 2016-17. The 6-foot-5 Washington kept the Crusaders close. He poured in 20 points and hauled down 11 rebounds for a squad that shot 43.5 percent (27-for-62) from the field but just 46.7 percent (7-for-15) from the foul line.

Concordia ended up at 47.1 percent (24-for-51) from the field and 66.7 percent (18-for-27) from the free throw line. Shuck dropped in 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Gillingham had a nice night, putting up nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes. Tegtmeier tossed in eight points off the bench.

The Bulldogs will road trip it to Kansas next weekend for contests at Sterling College (Nov. 10) and at Tabor College (Nov. 11) in two matchups with Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference teams. Concordia already owns one road victory over a KCAC team having come back to defeat Kansas Wesleyan University, 75-72, in Monday’s season opener.

All-Cattle Classic Team
Mychael Brawner-Henley, Mount Mercy
Jake Hornick, Concordia
Clay Reimers, Concordia
Justin Washington, Evangel
Nick Wood, Midland


Reimers spurs second half surge in road victory

STERLING, Kan. – After a sluggish offensive first half for both sides, the Concordia University men’s basketball team turned on the jets in the second half while turning to budding star sophomore Clay Reimers in the post. The result was a 79-75 win at Sterling College (Kan.) as part of the Warrior Classic on Friday night (Nov. 11). The Bulldogs led by as many as 21 points in the second half.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad remains unbeaten at 4-0. Concordia has picked up a pair of road wins over opponents from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“This team finds a way to get to the free throw line and make some plays when they need to,” Limback said. “Clay Reimers was a beast in the second half. He really carried us for a 10-minute stretch. We weren’t sharp tonight, but to come away with a win was nice. We’re going to have to play better and be more consistent on Saturday.”

The first four games have shown Concordia to have a dynamic sophomore trio in Reimers, point guard Jake Hornick and 3-point sniper Tanner Shuck. They combined for 49 points on the evening. With senior Kyle Pierce out of the lineup, Limback went with a lineup of sophomores only. He inserted Riley Tegtmeier into the starting group and he responded with 11 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

The time capsule that defined this game started at the 13:54 mark of the second half when Reimers converted a three-point play to turn a two-point lead into a five-point advantage (41-36). A 29-10 spurt gave the Bulldogs a seemingly commanding 67-46 lead with less than four-and-a-half minutes remaining. Reimers had eight of his game high 19 points during the splurge. Shuck also got hot, dropping in 14 of his 16 points after halftime.

At the point, Hornick continues to provide steady play. He chipped in 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Reimers posted a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with his 19 tallies. The only negative offensively for a team that shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) in the second half was its 21 turnovers. Limback also could have done without the late Sterling run that made the final score appear much closer than how the game was played.

The Warriors (2-2) dropped a 105-81 decision at Doane four days earlier. They were paced on Friday by the 15 points of Tim Hendrixson. Sterling put up a final record of 7-23 in 2016-17.

Day two of the Warrior Classic features the Bulldogs and 16th-ranked Tabor College (Kan.) (0-3) going head-to-head. Saturday’s tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT in Sterling, Kan. It will be Concordia’s first matchup with a top 25 opponent this season. The Bluejays got clipped by Hastings, 72-67, on Friday.

Lead slips away in first defeat of 2017-18 campaign

STERLING, Kan. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team was right there with a chance to run its record to 5-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Sixteenth-ranked Tabor College simply made more plays down the stretch, ending Saturday’s (Nov. 11) game with the final six points to eke out an 82-77 win over the Bulldogs on the second and final day of the Warrior Classic hosted by Sterling College.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad had been in similar positions already this season having won three games by margins of six points or less. Concordia will look ahead to conference play with an overall record of 4-1.

“We ran a really good offense minus a few turnovers here and there that we have to get cleaned up,” Limback said. “I thought the story of the game was we fouled too much in the second half. They shot 26 free throws in the second half and made a lot of those. That really allowed them to stay in the game. Down the stretch they made some plays where they got to the free throw line.”

A sophomore-laden Bulldog bunch certainly hasn’t backed down during pressure-packed moments in the clutch. It appeared Concordia might pull another one out of its hat when Jake Hornick drove for a layup, drew a foul and converted a three-point play to give the Bulldogs a 77-76 lead in the final minute. Jordan Horstick then picked a good time for his only four points of the game, sinking four free throws in the last 32 seconds. On the other end, Concordia came up empty on its two closing possessions.

The Bluejays (1-3) picked up their first win of the season while riding guard Julian Winton, who put up a game high 26 points and was nearly automatic from the free throw line (11-for-12). As a team, Tabor went 23-for-29 (.793) from the charity stripe compared to 14-for-22 (.636) free throw shooting by the Bulldogs. The Bluejays were also a plus-10 in turnover margin (17-7).

Sophomore Clay Reimers helped Concordia make a second half push just as it did in Friday’s 79-75 win over Sterling. Reimers has established himself as a force in his second season. He’s averaging 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds after posting 15 and eight on Saturday. Three other sophomores joined him in double figures: Tanner Shuck (14), Hornick (13) and Cordell Gillingham (12). The Bulldogs shot 51.9 percent (27-for-52) from the field and led by as many as eight points in the second half.

Through the first five games that will lead into GPAC action, there’s a lot to like for a program that endured significant losses from graduation.

“The big message was that when we’re locked into what we can control and take care of the basketball, we have a good chance this year to be competitive in our league and compete with the best,” Limback said. “We’re all pretty jacked for our next game on Wednesday.”

Wednesday’s (Nov. 15) matchup will feature Concordia hosting Midland (4-1) at 8 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs are 2-0 at home this season with the wins coming at last week’s Cattle Classic over Mount Mercy University (Iowa) and Evangel University (Mo.).

Conference play arrives for 4-1 Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – The opening week of conference play has arrived for the Concordia University men’s basketball program, which came up just shy of its first 5-0 start since the 2004-05 season. While riding rising sophomores Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers, the Bulldogs have won four of their first five games with the only loss coming by an 82-77 score to No. 16 Tabor College (Kan.) over the weekend.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday vs. Midland (4-1), 8 p.m. CT
Saturday at (10) Dakota Wesleyan (4-2), 4 p.m. CT

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad will need continued production from its sophomore class while going up against two opponents that reached the national tournament back in March. The 6-foot-8 Reimers enters the week averaging 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as Concordia’s new star post player. At the point guard spot, Hornick has been rock steady, posting averages of 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Tanner Shuck (11.4) is the team’s third double-figure scorer. He’s shooting 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The early-season run has included wins over Kansas Wesleyan University, Mount Mercy University (Iowa), Evangel University (Mo.) and Sterling College (Kan.). The Bulldog offense is averaging 80.4 points and sports shooting percentages of 48.4 from the field, 33.3 from beyond the arc and 69.5 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, its opponents are averaging 75.8 points while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from 3-point range. Concordia has scored at least 75 points each time out this season.

The Bulldogs got a look at Midland when it visited Walz Arena for the Cattle Classic (Nov. 3-4). The Warriors have a very different team this season under head coach Oliver Drake. The holdovers in the starting lineup are leading scorer Ryan Williams and top rebounder Nick Wood. The other three starters are transfers in guards Darrin Clark (Eastern Arizona College), TK Dixson (Marygove College) and Marti Fonolla (Southeastern Oklahoma State University). After a 4-0 start, the Warriors suffered an 86-67 loss to Grand View University (Iowa) last week.

Dakota Wesleyan features one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation thanks to the terrific trio of Ty Hoglund, Jason Spicer and Trae Vandenburg, who average a combined 55.9 points per game. Nationally, the Tigers rank seventh in field goal percentage (.527) and 17th in scoring offense (93.0). Ranked 10th in the NAIA Division II preseason poll, Dakota Wesleyan is coming off back-to-back losses on the road (University of Jamestown and York College). Head coach Matt Wilber’s squad went 23-10 last season and tied for second place in the GPAC.

Concordia will host Mount Marty next Tuesday (Nov. 21) inside Walz Arena. It will then dip back outside of conference play during Thanksgiving break and make a trip to the Denver area for games against Colorado School of Mines (Nov. 24) and Colorado Christian University (Nov. 25).

Projected lineups

Concordia (4-1)
G – Jake Hornick: 17.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.6 spg, .617 fg%, .880 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 6.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, .448 fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 11.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, .442 fg%, .441 3-pt fg%
F – Kyle Pierce: 8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 bpg, .400 fg%
F – Clay Reimers: 18.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, .583 fg%, .680 ft%

Midland (4-1)
G – TK Dixson: 10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.0 apg, .309 fg%, .846 ft%
G – Darrin Clark: 11.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, .385 fg%, .800 ft%
G – Marti Fonolla: 4.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, .471 fg%
F – Ryan Williams: 16.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, .484 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%
F – Nick Wood: 9.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, .484 fg%, .536 ft%

Dakota Wesleyan (4-2)
G – Trae Vandenberg: 14.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.8 apg, .403 fg%, .189 3-pt fg%
G – Ty Hoglund: 21.3 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, .536 fg%, .409 3-pt fg%
G – Tyson Smiley: 9.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, .684 fg%
F – Nygel Drury: 13.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, .520 fg%, .379 3-pt fg%
F – Jason Spicer: 19.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.8 apg, .690 fg%, .804 ft%

Hornick, Dawgs sink Midland with 15 treys

SEWARD, Neb. – Without a key piece instrumental in its 4-1 start to the season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team made up for it by canning 3-point field goals by the bushel – 15 of them to be exact. The Bulldogs even absorbed a second half push from visiting Midland and emerged victorious from their GPAC opener, 86-72, on Wednesday night (Nov. 15).

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has now claimed wins this season over two teams that earned national tournament bids last season. Concordia has won five of its first six contests in a stretch that some may find surprising for a team picked eighth in the GPAC.

“It was a gutsy performance. I feel like the guys really came together and executed everything we talked about,” Limback said. “We shot the lights out, which always helps. I was really proud of our guys with how hard they played. I feel like they really wanted this one.”

It’s fair to title sophomore point guard Jake Hornick the team MVP of the early season. The sophomore from Loveland, Colo., has been filling up the stat sheet. It seemed fitting when his long 3-pointer in the closing seconds found the bottom of the net, providing an exclamation mark. Hornick could do no wrong. He just missed a triple-double, going for 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 37 minutes of action.

Said Hornick, “When we played Tabor (on Nov. 11), we weren’t getting rebounds and making hustle plays that we were tonight. Everyone played with so much effort. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone.”

The Warriors (4-2, 0-1 GPAC) appeared in danger of being routed in the second half with Concordia leading 51-34 at the 16:03 mark. Just four minutes later, Midland trailed by two (52-50) thanks to a 16-1 splurge. Sophomore Ryan Williams did his part in trying to keep the Warriors close. He piled up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Williams and TK Dixson completed the aforementioned run with back-to-back treys.

Concordia answered impressively, pouring in 3-point bombs on three-straight possessions to regain a double-digit lead. The triples were delivered by Cordell Gillingham, Chris Johnstone and Kyle Pierce before Midland even realized what hit it. Even a late surge by Dixson couldn’t save the Warriors because the 3’s kept raining in from the other end. Zach Friel, who made his first career start as a Bulldog, dropped a dagger of a trey at the 3:09 mark that made it 78-67.

“I thought the ball was moving well,” Limback said. “We spread them out. It was great to see Chris Johnstone come out and have a great game. He really got us going offensively. They’re a good team, and I feel like we did some good things. There was just a lot of scrappiness tonight.”

Johnstone threw in 17 points while going 4-for-5 from deep. Tanner Shuck added 12 points, Kyle Pierce chipped in 10 points and six rebounds and Friel notched nine points. Riley Tegtmeier contributed eight points off the bench. Concordia shot an otherworldly 15-for-26 (.577) from 3-point land and was nearly spotless from the free throw line (13-for-15).

On the other end, Midland shot 45.6 percent (26-for-57) from the field and struggled from the charity stripe (10-for-18). Dixson (16) and Chase Parsons (14) joined Williams as Warriors to post double figures in scoring.

Clay Reimers may not have played on Wednesday, but his teammates had his back. “We just had to play our game,” Hornick said. “Obviously Clay’s a big piece to the puzzle. We love him. He’ll be back with us (Saturday).”

A difficult road test awaits on Saturday when the Bulldogs will journey to Mitchell, S.D., for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff at No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan (4-3, 1-1 GPAC). Last season’s regular-season meeting in The Corn Palace resulted in a memorable 109-106 overtime win for Concordia. The Tigers began GPAC play on Wednesday with a 73-67 loss to Dordt.

Sophomoric Bulldogs show immense growth in early season

Through six games, the top three scorers for the Concordia University men’s basketball team are all sophomores. They are averaging a combined 47.5 points per game. As freshmen, that same trio averaged a collective 22.4 points per game. As a whole, the sophomore class has accounted for 81 percent of the team’s scoring.

The sophomoric Bulldogs have jetted out to a 5-1 start that may come as a surprise to some. The graduation of All-American Chandler Folkerts and prolific 3-point shooting guard Eli Ziegler likely had much to do with Concordia being picked to finish higher than only two teams in the GPAC preseason poll. The season is still very young, but the rapid rise of the group of second-year players has provided reason for cautious optimism.

Let’s revisit what the team’s lone senior said back in the preseason in regards to the sophomore class. Offered Kyle Pierce, “They’re only going to get better. They’re only going to get stronger and more confident. We’re going to expect big things from them this year for sure.”

Remarkably, the big things came immediately. Down 10 in the second half in the season opener at Kansas Wesleyan, first-year starters Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers showed the calmness and confidence of savvy veterans. Hornick put up 23 points, seven boards and four assists while Reimers went for 21 points.

Neither one has shown any sign of slowing down. A native of Loveland, Colo., Hornick has been a revelation in his new role as a point guard after coming off the bench last season. Hornick stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Wednesday’s 86-72 win over Midland.

“He was a beast,” said head coach Ben Limback after the victory. “I got on him a little bit at the end defensively and then I realized how many minutes and how hard he was playing. Jake did a lot of things I don’t think you realized until you see the stats or watch the film. The kid is just a competitor. He hates losing. You could see it out here.”

On the interior, Reimers has a skillset you just can’t teach. Though lanky at 6-foot-8, Reimers has shown more than enough strength to throw down dunks in traffic. It was clear down the stretch last season that Reimers had star potential. He can score and defend in the post, he can step out and shoot threes and he can rebound – and he provides a bit of edginess that is a positive for a young squad. He currently ranks third in the GPAC in rebounding and seventh in the league in scoring.

“Obviously my role has changed since last year. I’m looking to take on a much bigger role,” Reimers said after a win over Mount Mercy on Nov. 3. “Right now I’m just kind of getting started. I can get points when I need to get points and my teammates will do their jobs. Everybody’s going to be themselves and I’m going to be me.”

The starting five also features sophomores Tanner Shuck (11.5 ppg) and Cordell Gillingham (6.8 ppg). Shuck is a deadly 3-point shooter and one of two returning starters from last season. Meanwhile, Gillingham has impressed Limback with his max-effort style and he can contribute offensively like he did when he canned a key trey to snuff out a Midland run on Wednesday.

Off the bench come more sophomores in Zach Friel (5.8 ppg), Riley Tegtmeier (5.7 ppg) and Brevin Soup (3.0 ppg). In all, that makes seven sophomores worthy of regular playing time.

“Looking back a year ago, some of these guys weren’t getting any varsity time at all,” Hornick said after a Cattle Classic win on Nov. 4. “We all got together this summer and worked really hard together. We just want it bad. I think we’re going to be special. I think we’re going to go a long way.”

A lot more will be learned about this group over the coming weeks and months as GPAC grinders and holiday trips play out. A significant challenge awaits on Saturday when the Bulldogs (5-1, 1-0 GPAC) venture to Mitchell, S.D., for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff at No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan (4-3, 0-1 GPAC).

Tigers overcome Shuck's career game

MITCHELL, S.D. – Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers have paced the Concordia University men’s basketball team in scoring in the early going this season, but Saturday (Nov. 18) was sophomore Tanner Shuck’s day. Ultimately, 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan outgunned the Bulldogs, 77-69, inside the Corn Palace. Concordia managed only three points over the game’s final seven minutes.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 5-2 overall and to 1-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs won their previous two true road contests (Kansas Wesleyan and Sterling).

“We weren’t finishing very strong. We didn’t shoot a very high percentage in the paint, which you have to do,” Limback said. “Tanner had an outstanding game where he was moving and freeing himself. Guys were looking for him. Offensively we just didn’t have enough guys finishing inside. Defensively we did a decent job guarding the three in the first half. Then in the second half we over helped in a couple situations. We had some mental breakdowns that gave them some threes we didn’t want to give them.”

For most of the evening, Concordia hung right with a third opponent that reached the 2017 national tournament. Shuck caught fire for a career high 29 points while tickling the net with five treys. His final trey of the night came at the 7:25 mark of the second half and staked the Bulldogs to a 66-62 advantage. The game spiraled in the opposite direction from that point on.

The potent Tigers (5-3, 1-1 GPAC) ended the game on a 15-3 rampage. Out of a timeout, Trae Vandeberg threw down a dunk that sparked the furious Dakota Wesleyan finish. On the other end, Concordia went just 1-for-9 from the field over the last seven minutes. Its only field goal during that stretch was a Hornick 3-pointer that pulled the Bulldogs to within four (73-69). The Tigers quickly responded with a Jason Spicer bucket in the paint.

Three days after sinking 15 treys in the GPAC opening win over Midland, Concordia dropped in 12 more triples at Dakota Wesleyan. The Bulldogs went just 15-for-37 (.405) on shots inside the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, the Tigers got most of the offense they needed from three players. Spicer (21), Ty Hoglund (19) and Vandeberg combined for 59 points. Dakota Wesleyan shot 46.9 percent overall and 38.5 percent (10-for-26) from distance.

Shuck didn’t quite have enough help offensively though Zach Friel (11 points, nine rebounds) and Hornick (10 points) both reached double figures. Before fouling out, Reimers totaled eight points and 10 rebounds. Shuck kept Concordia competitive on a day when the production of some of his teammates dipped.

“I felt like Tanner was a beast tonight and Zach Friel did some nice things offensively off the bench,” Limback said. “He gave us a nice spurt where we made a good push. We weren’t strong enough to overcome our offensive inefficiency down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs are set to return home on Tuesday (Nov. 21) to host Mount Marty (1-6, 0-2 GPAC) inside Walz Arena. Concordia has won its first three home contests of this season. The improved Lancers have dropped five games by margins of seven points or less, including Saturday’s road defeat at Hastings that ended with a final of 70-65. Tuesday has been declared Seward County Appreciation Night. No admission will be charged.

Three games make up this week's Thanksgiving feast

SEWARD, Neb. – The schedule does not let up for Thanksgiving week. Despite a break for students, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will be in action Tuesday, Friday and Saturday this week. Up next is Seward County Appreciation on Tuesday when Mount Marty visits for a GPAC tilt inside Walz Arena. No admission will be charged. The contest will be carried live on the Concordia Sports Network and 104.9 Max Country radio.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, Nov. 21 vs. Mount Marty, 8 p.m. CT
Colorado School of Mines Classic
Friday, Nov. 24 at Colorado School of Mines, 4 p.m. CT (Exhibition)
Saturday, Nov. 25 vs. Colorado Christian, 2 p.m. CT

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad split its first two GPAC contests of the season as conference play opened up last week. Budding point guard Jake Hornick (20 points, nine assists, eight rebounds) came up just shy of a triple-double while leading the Bulldogs (5-2, 1-1 GPAC) to an 86-72 home win over Midland on Nov. 15. Hornick and company sank 15 treys in the victory. Three days later, Tanner Shuck went off for a career best 29 points, but a 15-3 run to close the game lifted 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan to a 77-69 triumph over Concordia.

Hornick and the sophomore class have emerged as a big story in the early going for the Bulldogs. The star trio of Hornick, Shuck and Clay Reimers combined to average 22.4 points per game last season as freshmen. That figure has skyrocketed to 47.2 this season. As a class, the sophomores have accounted for 81.3 percent (453/557) of the team’s scoring so far this season. Hornick currently sports GPAC rankings of second in assists (5.1), ninth in scoring (16.7) and 10th in rebounding (5.9). Reimers is the league’s second most prolific rebounder (8.5) and Shuck ranks sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.458).

Mount Marty (1-6, 0-2 GPAC) owns a record that is a bit misleading on the surface. The improved Lancers have suffered five of their six losses by margins of seven points or less. In conference play, they have dropped games to Morningside, 75-72, and Hastings, 70-65. Augustana University (S.D.) alum Cody Schilling is in his first season as head coach. His squad feature’s the GPAC’s second leading scorer in Marcus Mathieu (22.7 ppg), a transfer from Oklahoma Christian University.

The weekend will provide two significant challenges with games against two foes from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference of NCAA Division II. Friday’s game is officially an exhibition contest for Concordia. Colorado Mines is off to a 4-0 start behind top scorers Luke Schroepfer (15.8 ppg) and Ben Sonnefeld (15.0 ppg). Colorado Christian (0-4) is still seeking its first win. The Cougars of Lakewood, Colo., went 19-16 overall last season. Both weekend games will be hosted by Colorado School of Mines at Lockridge Arena in Golden, Colo., and both will be streamed live HERE.

Following this week, Concordia will have a break before returning to action Saturday, Dec. 2 for a matchup at Dordt.

Tuesday’s projected lineups

Concordia (5-2, 1-1)
G – Jake Hornick: 16.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.3 spg, .534 fg%, .458 3-pt fg%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 5.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, .400 fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, .493 fg%, .449 3-pt fg%
F – Kyle Pierce: 8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, .417 fg%, .333 3-pt fg%
F – Clay Reimers: 16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, .593 fg%, .667 ft%

Mount Marty (1-6, 0-2)
G – Conlan Callahan: 10.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, .371 fg%, .833 ft%
G – Marcus Mathieu: 22.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, .382 fg%, .389 3-pt fg%
G – Zane Schumaker: 2.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, .412 fg%
F – Sheldon Siemonsma: 6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.8 bpg, .382 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%
F – Drew Cheskie: 11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.0 spg, .580 fg%

No Lancer answer for Concordia firepower

SEWARD, Neb. – A seven-point Bulldog lead late in the first half spiked to 23 points by the 15:46 mark of the second half in a game that spiraled out of control. The second half of Tuesday night’s (Nov. 21) contest went something like this: the Concordia University men’s basketball team placed the ball inside the cylinder a lot while Mount Marty did not. The result was a 105-63 victory for the Bulldogs, who brushed aside last week’s loss at No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has drilled a combined 31 treys in its two GPAC home victories. Concordia has improved to 6-2 overall and to 2-1 in conference play.

“Second half I thought we did a much better job of being patient and shot much better from three,” Limback said. “It was good to see a lot of guys get into this one. We continued to play hard and make shots. I’m really proud of our guys. This is a tough game on break. Mount Marty is a team that executes really well offensively, but we did a better job in the second half.”

Those last 20 minutes were a thing of beauty from the perspective of the home team. The numbers bore out an absolute blowout. In the second half, the Bulldogs shot 63.3 percent (19-for-30) from the field and nailed 11 triples while the Lancers struggled to 25.0 percent (8-for-32) from the floor, including 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. Seven different Concordia players made at least one 3-point field goal, including reserves Matteo Busnardo and Alec Johnston.

Kyle Pierce (16 points, six rebounds) and Tanner Shuck (21 points, 7-for-12 shooting) really stole the show in the second half. They put on an impressive shooting display. All four of Pierce’s treys came over the final 20 minutes. This offense has proven it can light opponents up when it operates at the level of efficiency it did on Tuesday.

“Our defense was really leading to our offense, but we were just getting good passes and really whipping it around,” Pierce said. “We were just putting them in. It was target practice in the second half.”

Pierce and Shuck were two of four Bulldogs to drop 16 or more points on the night. The consistent Jake Hornick piled up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes. In the post, Clay Reimers recorded 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The high man off the bench was sophomore Brevin Sloup with eight points.

The Bulldogs are now 4-0 at home and have made a combined 51 3-point shots in those contests. Walz has been more than friendly to the home team.

“I wish we could play every game here, but they won’t allow that,” Limback joked. “Especially in the second half, the ball was moving better and guys were looking for each other. Just proud of the way we played in the second half.”

Sheldon Siemonsma paced Mount Marty (1-7, 0-3 GPAC) with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field. Concordia limited the GPAC’s second leading scorer, Marcus Mathieu, to 16 points. He had a tough night shooting, going 4-for-18 from the floor. Both teams were deadeye from the foul line – 17-for-18 by Concordia and 20-for-23 by the Lancers.

Now it’s on to Golden, Colo., for two games at Colorado School of Mines. The Bulldogs will play an exhibition with the host on Friday before a countable tilt versus Colorado Christian University at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. Both opponents are affiliated with NCAA Division II.

Reimers and the Dawgs golden in Colorado

GOLDEN, Colo. – A beastly game by sophomore Clay Reimers and a late 13-0 run defined the day as the Concordia University men’s basketball team wrapped up its Thanksgiving weekend in Golden, Colo. After nearly upsetting NCAA Division II sixth-ranked Colorado School of Mines on Friday, the Bulldogs took care of Colorado Christian University, 79-66, on Saturday afternoon. The Cougars are a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (NCAA Division II).

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad fell by an 86-84 final score to host Colorado Mines on Friday despite 26 points from point guard Jake Hornick. The Bulldogs regrouped on Saturday and improved to 7-2 overall this season.

There were some rough patches in the middle of the latest contest, but Limback liked how his team started and finished the game.

“Defensively we did some really good things in the last five minutes to close it out,” Limback said. “I’m just proud of the guys for the whole weekend overall in regards to their level of play and the effort we saw. There were definite signs of growth this weekend. I think playing two division II teams really motivated our guys to play at a different level. When we compete as hard as we can and stay disciplined, we truly can beat anyone on a given night.”

Concordia trailed as late as the 7:34 mark before Chris Johnstone initiated the 13-0 run by sinking a pair of free throws. The Bulldogs really dug in defensively, limiting Colorado Christian (1-5) without a field goal the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the usual suspects filled it up on the other end. Reimers emerged with a tip in and Hornick followed with a back breaker of a 3-pointer during crunch time.

A product of Lincoln East High School, Reimers bounced back after fouling out of Friday’s contest. He went off for 23 points and a career high 16 rebounds. Reimers showed off his ability to score in just about every way imaginable, stepping out for a trey and dominating after catching it in the post. At the point, Hornick was at his best during the game-winning push down the stretch. He wound up with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes of action.

It wasn’t one of Concordia’s best outside shooting performances, but it still managed to net 11 triples and heated up from 40.7 percent (11-for-27) shooting in the first half to 54.8 percent (17-for-31) in the second half. The defensive effort also improved. The Cougars slumped to 35.5 percent (11-for-31) shooting in the second half.

Colorado Christian earned its first win of the season on Friday, drubbing Bethel College (Kan.), 91-72, as part of the weekend event. The Cougars are coming off a 19-16 record in 2016-17. They were paced on Saturday by the 13 points from Jeremiah Hanson.

Tanner Shuck (14 points, 4-for-11 3-point shooting) and Kyle Pierce (11 points) joined Hornick and Reimers as double figure scorers. Johnstone added seven points off the bench.

Limback came away from the weekend especially impressed with Friday’s effort against a Colorado Mines team capable of competing for the NCAA Division II national title. The Bulldogs jumped out to a four-point lead in overtime before the Orediggers came back to clip Concordia.

“It was one of those games where we were hitting on all cylinders and really competing hard,” Limback said. “Those are games you wish you could have won, but we got better that night.”

The team enjoyed its Thanksgiving meal at the Colorado home of graduate assistant coach Tate Hilgenkamp’s parents on Thursday. The varsity roster contains six Colorado natives, including starters in Cordell Gillingham, Hornick and Kyle Pierce.

The Bulldogs will be off until next Saturday (Dec. 2) when they return to conference action with a road trip to Dordt (6-5, 1-0 GPAC). Tipoff from Sioux Center, Iowa, is set for 4 p.m. CT. The Defenders opened up GPAC play with a 73-67 win at No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan on Nov. 15.

Bulldogs turn page on November with trip to Dordt

SEWARD, Neb. – The best nine-game start to a season during fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s tenure carries the Concordia University men’s basketball team into the month of December. Now 7-2 overall, the Bulldogs moved up two spots from their preseason GPAC ranking of eighth and were listed sixth in this week’s conference poll. The only defeats have come away from home to nationally-ranked opponents in contests decided by single-digit margins.

In this week’s only action, Concordia will be at Dordt (7-5, 2-0 GPAC) for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff inside De Witt Gymnasium in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday. Tyler Cavalli will call the action for 104.9 Max Country radio.

Limback’s crew enjoyed a solid Thanksgiving week, claiming a lopsided home win over Mount Marty, 105-63, and a neutral court victory over NCAA Division II Colorado Christian University, 79-66. Sandwiched in between those triumphs was an 86-84 overtime loss at Colorado School of Mines (exhibition for the Bulldogs), a squad ranked sixth in the NCAA Division II coaches’ poll. Point guard Jake Hornick went off for 26 points in the defeat. Meanwhile, sophomore post Clay Reimers totaled a combined 41 points, 24 rebounds and eight assists over the two games that counted towards Concordia’s record.

A great deal of the Bulldog firepower comes from the sophomore trio of Hornick (17.1 ppg), Reimers (17.1 ppg) and Tanner Shuck (14.8 ppg). All three standouts average more than 27 minutes per game. Reimers is the current GPAC leader in rebounding average (9.4). In the backcourt, Hornick does it all. Among conference players, he ranks No. 1 in assists (5.1), eighth in rebounding (6.1), ninth in steals (1.1) and 10th in scoring. Hornick and Northwestern’s Nathan Wedel are the only two players in the league to rank inside the top 10 in all four categories.

Dordt has started five players all listed as guards for each of its first 12 games. Only one starter stands taller than 6-foot-2. The makeup of the Defender roster has led to a perimeter-oriented offense under head coach Ross Douma. Nine different players average 6.5 points or more for a team that sports national rankings of 10th in 3-point field goals per game (11.3) and 11th in scoring average (92.9). One of only three GPAC teams without a conference loss, Dordt has begun league play with a 73-67 win at then 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan and a 101-55 home blowout of Mount Marty.

Concordia will also play only one time next week when it puts an active 10-game home win streak on the line on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Hastings (8-3, 1-2 GPAC) will serve as the opponent for a contest scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. CT.

Projected lineups

Concordia (7-2, 2-1)
G – Jake Hornick: 17.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.1 spg, .538 fg%, .467 3-pt fg%, .870 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 5.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, .388 fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, .484 fg%, .435 3-pt fg%, .813 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 9.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, .468 fg%, .448 3-pt fg%
F – Clay Reimers: 17.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, .628 fg%, .679 ft%

Dordt (7-5, 2-0)
G – Chad Barkema: 8.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, .603 fg%, .391 3-pt fg%
G – Chandler Brunsting: 8.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg, .576 fg%, .541 3-pt fg%
G – Kobe Critchley: 4.1 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, .548 fg%
G – Alec Henrickson: 12.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, .418 fg%, .367 3-pt fg%, .889 ft%
G – Marcus Winterfeld: 13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, .563 fg%, .462 3-pt fg%

Sloup money in comeback win

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The shortest player on the Concordia University men’s basketball team stood tallest when his team needed a boost. Seward High School product Brevin Sloup played the role of hero in crunch time while steering the Bulldogs back from a 15-point deficit for an 85-80 win at Dordt on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 2).

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has improved to 8-2 overall and to 3-1 in conference play. It’s the best 10-game start during Limback’s tenure.

“These guys are just competitors,” Limback said. “We might do some dumb things and lose our senses at times, but these guys just compete and they find ways to get things done. I’ll take a team any day that’s willing to fight, stick with each other and make the plays when they count. I think that’s what this team understands.”

A member of the star-studded sophomore class, Sloup entered the contest averaging 11.6 minutes per game. On Saturday, Sloup had his number called in the most critical of moments. He buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 2:34 left in the game and then added driving layups on two of the next three possessions to stake Concordia to its first lead since the contest’s early minutes. Sloup put the finishing touches on the victory by sinking free throws for his 16th and 17th points in the closing seconds.

Limback liked the matchup he saw with Sloup on the court against a smaller guard-oriented foe.

“I thought he matched up well defensively with some guys on Dordt and also offensively he was doing a great job of slowing us down,” Limback said. “He was always under control. He’s very patient offensively and he’s a gamer. In those crunch times, he’s done it before for us. He hit a big shot in Denver and he hit a big shot in our opener at Kansas Wesleyan. He has that ability.”

The Bulldogs needed the heroics of Sloup and an improved second half defensive performance to dig out of a hole that still stood at nine points (69-60) with under six minutes remaining. The ensuing 17-4 Concordia run began with a pair of free throws and continued with a crucial 3-point shot delivered by Kyle Pierce. While hanging onto an 83-80 lead in the final 30 seconds, the Bulldogs forced a missed 3-pointer by Marcus Winterfeld and then came up with the rebound.

Sloup (5-for-9 from the field) led the way for a team that placed six players into double figures in scoring: Jake Hornick (15), Clay Reimers (15), Chris Johnstone (12), Kyle Pierce (10) and Tanner Shuck (10). Concordia shot 50 percent in both halves. On the flip side, Dordt regressed from 54.8 percent shooting in the first half to a 38.5 percent clip over the final 20 minutes. The Bulldogs also finally figured out how to slow down Alec Henrickson. He totaled a game high 31 points, but none of them came in the game’s final six minutes.

Both teams made frequent trips to the free throw line, where Concordia went 29-for-36 (.806) and Dordt went 20-for-23 (.870). The Bulldogs drilled all eight of their shots from the charity stripe in the last minute-and-a-half.

The Defenders (7-6, 2-1 GPAC) began GPAC play by toppling then 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan and Mount Marty. There are now only two teams in the conference without a league defeat (Morningside and Briar Cliff). Meanwhile, Concordia has won three of its first four GPAC games for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Wednesday (Dec. 6) to host Hastings (8-3, 1-2 GPAC) in a matchup set to tip off at 8 p.m. CT inside Walz Arena. Concordia owns a home winning streak of 10, a run that includes four home victories this season.

Bulldogs-Broncos to meet Wednesday in Walz

SEWARD, Neb. – After three in a row away from home, the Concordia University men’s basketball team is set to make its final pre-Christmas appearance inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs will host Hastings at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday in a matchup between two teams with eight wins apiece. Concordia swept the two regular-season meetings from the Broncos during the 2016-17 campaign. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad will also be at NCAA Division I South Dakota State University for an exhibition on Friday.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Dec. 6 vs. Hastings (8-3, 1-2), 8 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 8 at South Dakota State (7-3), 5:30 p.m. (exhibition)

The Bulldogs picked up their third true road win of the season last week, rallying from 15 points down for an 85-80 win at Dordt. Reserve sophomore guard Brevin Sloup emerged with the key buckets during crunch time, including a game-tying 3-pointer and a go-ahead driving layup. Sloup finished with a season high 17 points. Concordia pulled it out despite a season low four 3-point field goals. Defensively, the Bulldogs ramped things up in the second half. The Defenders’ 54.8 field goal percentage over the first 20 minutes slumped to 38.5 percent after halftime.

Sloup became the fourth different sophomore to lead Concordia in scoring in at least one game this season. The team’s top three scorers, in terms of season average, are all sophomores in Clay Reimers (17.2), Jake Hornick (16.9) and Tanner Shuck (14.3). Together, they have helped the program to its best 10-game start since the 2010-11 squad also sat at 8-2 overall. The 2008-09 squad was the most recent to win nine of its first 11 contests. The Bulldogs appeared at No. 6 in the conference ratings released last week.

Hastings has been idle since a 98-86 loss at No. 9 Briar Cliff on Nov. 29. It marked the team’s second loss in a row to a team ranked inside the top 10. The Broncos opened up conference play with a 70-65 win at Mount Marty. On paper, the most impressive win was a 93-90 overtime triumph at York College (receiving votes in national poll) on Oct. 28. Bill Gavers is in his fifth season leading Hastings, which is coming off a 14-17 overall mark in 2016-17. The Broncos average 76.3 points and surrender 74.8 points per game.

Wednesday’s action will be covered live by the Concordia Sports Networkand by 104.9 Max Country radio. Access to live video of Friday’s exhibition at South Dakota State can be purchased HERE. Following Friday’s contest, Concordia will be off until a Dec. 15 trip to Northwestern.

Projected lineups

Concordia (8-2, 3-1)
G – Jake Hornick: 16.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.1 spg, .534 fg%, .438 3-pt fg%, .865 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 5.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, .400 fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, .475 fg%, .419 3-pt fg%
F – Kyle Pierce: 9.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, .464 fg%, .452 3-pt fg%
F – Clay Reimers: 17.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, .631 fg%, .692 ft%

Hastings (8-3, 1-2)
G – Jake Hansen: 13.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 403 fg%, .338 3-pt fg%
G – Eli Hunter: 2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg, .389 fg%
G – Connor Musiel: 11.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.9 spg, .468 fg%, .750 ft%
F – Drew Callaghan: 7.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 bpg, .581 fg%, .429 ft%
F – Bart Hiscock – 16.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, .494 fg%, .313 3-pt fg%

Win streak moves to four following GPAC grinder

SEWARD, Neb. – This was a GPAC grinder and the Concordia University men’s basketball team found a way to grind it out – as it has most of this season. The Bulldogs curled in 15 more 3-point field goals while protecting a home win streak that has moved to 11. The latest victory ended in a final of 81-75 with Concordia brushing aside visiting Hastings on Wednesday night (Dec. 6).

 Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback has the program off to its first 4-1 start to conference play since the 2008-09 season. The Bulldogs are 9-2 overall, also their best start since that same ’08-09 campaign.

“I feel like there’s a good balance with the guys right now,” Limback said. “There’s trust. We shot really well, which definitely helps. Hastings did a good job of containing our penetration. We just have to do better offensively in terms of taking care of the ball. There was a lot of physical play. I’m just proud of them.”

This year’s team may not have the prolific all-around scoring abilities of the 2016-17 Bulldog bunch that owns the school record for scoring average, but this group can fill it up from deep. Cordell Gillingham and Kyle Pierce knocked down four treys apiece. As a team, Concordia went a sizzling 15-for-28 (.536) from 3-point range. Now 5-0 at home, the Bulldogs have dropped in a combined 66 3-point shots this season at Walz.

Despite the raining of triples, the visiting Broncos hung right with Concordia in a nip-and-tuck affair. The Bulldogs finally took the lead for good when Clay Reimers dropped in a pair of free throws to make the score 66-65 with 4:52 left to play. At long last, Concordia got a bit of separation on its next offensive possession when Tanner Shuck knocked in the team’s final 3-point field goal of the night.

One particular play epitomized this year’s Bulldogs. A missed Hastings shot kicked long and resulted in a series of bodies hitting the floor. Concordia won the scramble and Jake Hornick shoveled the ball ahead to Gillingham for an easy two that made for a 73-67 lead with under three minutes remaining. It’s a sophomore-laden team that has learned to make winning plays.

“It wasn’t our cleanest game offensively, but we hang our hats on our defensive intensity,” Gillingham said. “Play-in, play-out, missed shot or turnover, we still have to get it done on the defensive end and that’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Late in the game, Gillingham bloodied his nose, went to the bench and quickly returned. He’s that kind of player. He led the Bulldogs with 16 points to go along with six assists. Both Kyle Pierce (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Reimers (14 points, 11 rebounds) turned in double-doubles. Two additional starters – Hornick (15 points, eight assists) and Shuck (13 points) – tallied double figures in the scoring column.

Hastings (8-4, 1-3 GPAC) held leads at various times throughout this game, until Concordia exerted its will in the final minutes. Connor Musiel paced the Broncos with 18 points. Hastings shot only 37.7 percent compared to 51.9 percent shooting by the Bulldogs.

Such cold shooting wouldn’t cut it against this Concordia team. Said Gillingham, “Every single night it seems like someone’s having a great game. One through 15 we’re all great teammates. We all have confidence in ourselves and our teammates and that’s what it makes it so fun to play.”

Concordia will hit the road its next time out for what will be an exhibition contest for the visitors. The Bulldogs will challenge themselves significantly by paying a visit to NCAA Division I South Dakota State University (7-4) for a 5:30 p.m. CT tipoff on Friday. The team’s next official game will be Dec. 15 at No. 1 Northwestern (10-2, 3-2 GPAC).

Bulldogs aim to slow down explosive Red Raiders

SEWARD, Neb. – On paper, the Concordia University men’s basketball team’s most challenging regular-season game to date is looming on Friday. Currently in a three-way tie for first place atop the GPAC standings, the Bulldogs face a road trip to play 11th-ranked Northwestern (11-2, 3-2 GPAC) in Orange City, Iowa. Friday’s game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. CT.

Live coverage: 104.9 Max Country | Webcast

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad has already played at home for the final time in the month of December. Last week Concordia (9-2, 4-1 GPAC) improved to 5-0 at home this season by fending off rival Hastings, 81-75, behind 15 treys. The fourth win in a row overall pushed the Bulldogs up a notch to fifth in this week’s official conference rating. As a result, Concordia appeared among “others receiving votes” in the national coaches’ poll released on Tuesday. The program last cracked the top 25 in December of 2010. The last time it won at least 10 or more of its first 12 games was 2004-05, a campaign that saw it open up at 13-0.

One major reason for the program’s best 11-game start in nine years has been the improvement of its perimeter defense. After allowing 78.8 points per game and 46.1 percent shooting last season, the Bulldogs have limited their opponents to 73.8 points per contest and 43.4 percent shooting so far in 2016-17. Concordia ranks among the top three of the conference in both categories while also coming in at No. 1 in the GPAC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.312). Offensively, the Bulldogs rely heavily upon the sophomore trio of Clay Reimers (16.9 ppg), Jake Hornick (16.7 ppg) and Tanner Shuck (14.2 ppg).

Prolific scoring guard Colton Kooima and his teammates will put Concordia’s perimeter defense to the test. The Red Raiders will enter the matchup ranked in the top 10 nationally in many major offensive categories, including first in free throw percentage (.839), third in field goal percentage (.526), fourth in scoring offense (95.8), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.423) and seventh in 3-point field goals per game (11.0). Kooima ranks eighth nationally with an average of 23.0 points per game. Wing Nathan Wedel went off for 46 points in an overtime win over Dordt and was named the NAIA Division II national player of the week on Tuesday. Northwestern slid back to No. 11 in the national rankings this week after a 9-0 start catapulted them to the No. 1 ranking.

Following Friday’s action, Concordia will wait two weeks before returning to action with a trek to Chicago for games against Robert Morris University (Dec. 29) and Judson University (Dec. 30).

Projected lineups

Concordia (9-2, 4-1)
G – Jake Hornick: 16.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.0 spg, .531 fg%, .444 3-pt fg%, .857 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 6.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, .438 fg%, .290 3-pt fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, .486 fg%, .430 3-pt fg%, .750 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, .457 fg%, .450 3-pt fg%, .647 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 16.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, .611 fg%, .700 ft%

Northwestern (11-2, 3-2)
G – Chris Borchers: 4.6 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.6 rpg, .563 fg%
G – Colton Kooima: 23.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, .475 fg%, .446 3-pt fg%, .893 ft%
G – Nathan Wedel: 19.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.8 spg, 1.1 spg, .627 fg%, .484 3-pt fg%, .862 ft%
F – Riley Francis: 13.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, .549 fg%, .370 3-pt fg%, .864 ft%
F – Steven Kragt: 2.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg, .452 fg%

Kooima burns Dawgs in shootout

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Starring in the role of Darth Vader, senior star Colton Kooima went bonkers. The All-American from Northwestern dropped a school record 51 points while leading the 11th-ranked Red Raiders to a 111-103 win inside the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa, on Friday evening. The Concordia University men’s basketball team drained 12 triples on the night. It just wasn’t enough to win a shootout with one of the nation’s most explosive teams.

The four-game win streak went by the wayside for fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. Tied for first place in the GPAC standings entering the night, the Bulldogs slipped to 9-3 overall and to 4-2 in conference play.

“Offensively we were good enough to win tonight,” Limback said. “I have to tip my hat to Kooima. He made a lot of tough shots. We needed to have better execution. Once a guy like that gets going it’s tough to stop him. We didn’t rebound well enough. They got more shots than us. On the road we have to do a better job on the glass. Between Kooima’s game and our rebound deficiency, that was where the game was won.”

Concordia held the lead for the majority of the first half before the Kooima show took center stage. He went a ridiculous 16-for-29 from the floor (7-for-13 from beyond the arc) and a near perfect 12-for-13 from the foul line. As a team, Northwestern (12-2, 4-2 GPAC) actually shot a lower percentage (50.0 compared to 54.7) from the field than the Bulldogs.

Offense certainly wasn’t the problem for Concordia. Five Bulldogs reached double figures with Tanner Shuck (22 points, 7-for-14 from the floor) and Kyle Pierce (20 points, seven rebounds). Point guard Jake Hornick chipped in 15 points and seven assists while piloting an offense that committed only 11 turnovers. On the boards, Northwestern owned a 40-30 advantage.

There just wasn’t any margin for error with Kooima bombing away on the other end. He also had help from teammates such as Derek Buysse (24 points) and Nathan Wedel (15 points). Together they helped the Red Raiders build a lead as large as 18 points late in the second half. A loud ovation rang out in the arena when Kooima sank a free throw for his 50th point.

Northwestern is no stranger to shootouts. It has racked up 100 or more points on eight occasions this season and in three-straight games. The Red Raiders torched a Concordia team that had entered the night limiting opponents to 43.4 percent shooting and to just 31.2 percent from the 3-point line.

“I think we had some bad communication at times,” Limback said. “We have to keep (Kooima) off the free throw line first and foremost and do a better job of communication on screens. There were times when he hit some shots where you just tip your hat and move on. Offensively, we were good enough to win. We can’t let him get going.”

The Bulldogs will wait two weeks before returning to action with a road trip to the Windy City. Their stay in Chicago begins on Dec. 29 with a contest at Robert Morris University. Concordia will also play at Judson University on Dec. 30. The Bulldogs have played just once at home during the entire month of December.

Two-week layoff to conclude in Windy City

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s time for the Concordia University men’s basketball team to knock off the rust. The Bulldogs returned to practice the day after Christmas and on Friday, they will end a layoff of two weeks without a game. In a Windy City excursion, fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad will play at Robert Morris University on Friday and then at Judson University on Saturday.

This week’s schedule
Friday, Dec. 29 at Robert Morris (5-8), 3 p.m. CT
Saturday, Dec. 30 at Judson (5-9), 5 p.m. CT

Robert Morris will provide live audio coverage of Friday’s game HERE. Saturday’s contest at Judson can viewed online HERE. Robert Morris is located in Chicago while Judson calls nearby Elgin its home.

The last time the Bulldogs (9-3, 4-2 GPAC) were in action, they fell in a 111-103 shootout at No. 11 Northwestern on Dec. 15. That defeat snapped a four-game winning streak for Concordia, which sits just one game out of first place in the league standings. Even with the loss, the team’s 9-3 record equals the best 12-game start for the program since the 2010-11 campaign. The solid start has been made possible by improved defensive effort (44.0 percent shooting by opponents) and an impressive offensive display from 3-point range (ranked sixth nationally in 3-point field goal makes per game).

Limback’s bunch has been led all season by one of the nation’s most productive sophomore classes. Sophomores Jake Hornick (16.6 ppg), Clay Reimers (16.5 ppg) and Tanner Shuck (14.8 ppg) are in a close battle for the team scoring lead. The Bulldogs own the GPAC’s assist leader in Hornick (5.42) and rebound leader in Reimers (9.2). Among conference teams, Concordia ranks third in field goal percentage defense (.440), fourth in scoring defense (76.9) and fifth in scoring offense (84.2). It has been the nation’s 17th most efficient 3-point shooting team (.404).

Robert Morris (5-8) has been a perennial NAIA powerhouse having reached the national semifinals seven times between 2002 and 2014. Othyus Jeffers is in his first season as head coach after replacing Al Bruehl, who spent 20 years guiding the program to many of its best seasons ever. This year’s squad has struggled to gain continuity, using 11 different players to fill its starting lineups. Chicago native Chelby Frazier paces the Eagles with an average of 15.4 points per game.

Like Robert Morris, Judson (5-9) is a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Eagles own a win over a familiar foe having toppled Concordia-Ann Arbor, 66-59, back on Nov. 11. Second-year head coach Brian Thrift’s squad recently put an end to a six-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over Saint Xavier University and IU South Bend, two conference opponents. Junior guard Taylor Boley (16.3 ppg) has morphed into a reliable scoring option at Judson.

Conference play will return on Jan. 3 when the Bulldogs play at Doane (7-8, 3-4 GPAC). The next home game is scheduled for Jan. 6.

Concordia (9-3)
G – Jake Hornick: 16.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.0 spg, .532 fg%, .436 3-pt fg%, .862 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 6.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, .449 fg%, .324 3-pt fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, .488 fg%, .427 3-pt fg%, .759 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, .473 fg%, .455 3-pt fg%, .739 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 16.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, .585 fg%, .667 ft%

Robert Morris (5-8)
G – Jerome Dixon: 10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg, .389 fg%, .292 3-pt fg%
G – Chelby Frazier: 15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.7 spg, .453 fg%, .725 ft%
G – Ryan Mathew: 6.3 ppg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 rpg, .385 fg%, .308 3-pt fg%
G – Jarvae Tate: 11.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.2 apg, .610 fg%, .500 ft%
F – Marquel Murphy: 6.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.8 spg, .384 fg%, .217 3-pt fg%

Judson (5-9)
G – Taylor Boley: 16.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.4 spg, .444 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%, .900 ft%
G – Jordan Johnson: 8.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.8 rpg, 0.9 spg, .417 fg%, .811 ft%
G – Brayden Royse: 10.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, .438 fg%, .450 3-pt fg%, .882 ft%
F – Teesean Patterson: 8.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg, .338 fg%, .563 ft%
C – Joshua Friesen: 3.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .385 fg%, .833 ft%

Hornick, Reimers ignite second half rally in Chicago

CHICAGO, Ill. – After two weeks without playing a game, the Concordia University men’s basketball team knocked off the rust by returning to action in the Windy City on Friday afternoon (Dec. 29). Sophomores Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers spearheaded a 17-0 second half run that allowed the Bulldogs to come from behind for a 106-101 win at Robert Morris University, a program that reached the national semifinals as recently as 2014.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad moved to 10-3 overall. Concordia had not played since a 111-103 loss at No. 11 Northwestern on Dec. 15.

“I thought they responded well (to the layoff),” Limback said. “We had a great practice yesterday. You never know what will happen when you come out to a new city, you do all these fun activities and then you throw a practice in there. This group really locked in so I felt confident coming into this game that our guys knew we weren’t just on a vacation. Some of the new guards Robert Morris has gave us some trouble but I felt like after the first half, our guys played more our style.”

Hornick and Reimers were a two-man wrecking crew, combining for 56 points. When the Bulldogs needed a big bucket to fend off the late Eagle charge, Hornick did the honors. The point guard from Loveland, Colo., poured in six crucial points over the final two minutes with Robert Morris (5-9) breathing down Concordia’s neck. A 17-point Bulldog lead melted all the way down to three (92-89) with 2:41 left as RMU guard Chelby Frazier attempted to power the Eagles back from the dead.

It was a valiant crunch time effort by Robert Morris. It just couldn’t stop a Bulldog squad that shot 56.9 percent from the floor. The crucial 17-0 Concordia splurge began with a triple from Hornick, who tallied 27 of his career high 30 points after halftime. On the next possession, Hornick dished to Reimers, initiating a three-point play to extend a lead that was never relinquished. Reimers went for a career best 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds. He recorded his fifth double-double of the season before fouling out.

The Bulldogs trailed 46-41 at halftime and faced their largest deficit (48-41) early in the second half. They still stared down a disadvantage with under 12 minutes to go before Riley Tegtmeier responded with a layup and Hornick canned one of his four 3-point field goals. Hornick had help from Reimers and three additional teammates with double-figure scoring outputs: Tanner Shuck (14), Kyle Pierce (11 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) and Chris Johnstone (10) off the bench. Limback also made special mention of sophomore guard Cordell Gillingham, who dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds.

Robert Morris has been a NAIA powerhouse, reaching the national semifinals seven times since 2002 under previous head coach Al Bruehl. The Eagles are now under the direction of first-year coach Othyus Jeffers. Frazier topped Robert Morris with 18 points on Friday. Five of his teammates also eclipsed 10 points, including backcourt mate Ryan Matthew (17).

While the Eagles went with a lineup almost exclusively of guards, Concordia’s star guard shined brightest. No. 30 got 30.

“Jake was a big part of our run,” Limback said. “Second half – he really played well. He did a better job of controlling the offense, attacking, scoring and getting to the free throw line. He was amazing in that second half and I think Clay and some other guys really fed off that.”

The Bulldogs will remain in the Chicago area on Saturday to finish up the road trip. Concordia will head to nearby Elgin for a 5 p.m. CT matchup with Judson University (6-9). The Eagles will carry a three-game win streak into the contest. The game can be viewed live online HERE.

Reimers and company conquer Win-dy City

ELGIN, Ill. – Clay Reimers showcased his ability to score in just about every imaginable way while helping lead the Concordia University men’s basketball team to an 89-74 victory in Elgin, Ill., home to Judson University, on Saturday evening (Dec. 30). During their stay in the Chicago area, the Bulldogs also claimed a 106-101 road win over Robert Morris University.

At 11-3 overall, fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has put together the best 14-game start for the program since the 2004-05 national runner up team opened up at 13-1.

“We allowed them to get some easier looks in the first half and we didn’t shoot well,” Limback said. “In the second half I thought we shared the ball better. We were finding the open guy instead of trying to force things. Although we weren’t sharp throughout the whole game, we had a really good spurt in the second half. Clay Reimers was really good. Kyle (Pierce) hit some big shots for us. He played well. To come on the road and get two wins and have some fun, I was really proud of the guys.”

The tide turned quickly on Saturday after the Eagles (5-10) had built a 10-point advantage (35-25) in the opening half. Concordia closed the half on a 13-3 run to even things up before putting together a dominant 20 minutes of play. It turned into an entertaining battle featuring the star power of Judson guard Taylor Boley and Reimers. While Boley threw in 28 points and got the upper hand early, Reimers had the last laugh.

The lanky 6-foot-8 product of Lincoln East High School presented a matchup nightmare for the Eagles. Reimers slammed an emphatic two-hand jam during the second half run and later curled home a back breaker of a 3-point field goal that provided a late 13-point lead. He ended his day with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots while going 12-for-15 from the field. The effort came a day after he posted 26 points and 12 boards at Robert Morris.

“Clay hit a three tonight and I thought that was the biggest shot of the night,” Limback said. “When he consistently runs the floor he’s very tough to guard because not many bigs can stay with him footspeed-wise. If they can, they’re probably not 6-8. He’s a unique player who’s really gifted. Tonight he showed that offensively.”

The Bulldogs never trailed during a second half that began with Tanner Shuck burying a 3-point field goal. Concordia held its first double-digit advantage (60-50) at the 12:20 mark thanks to a Riley Tegtmeier layup in traffic. Judson threatened with a quick 5-0 run, but the Bulldogs responded with a triple from Pierce and a layup from Reimers to restore order. Concordia’s largest hovered at 17 points.

Pierce (13 points, nine rebounds) came up one rebound shy of recording a second-straight double-double. Three additional Bulldogs reached double figures in scoring: Shuck (13), Jake Hornick (12) and Zach Friel (10).

Boley went 9-for-24 from the field while taking more than a third of his team’s shots (27-for-68). Teammate Jordan Johnson chipped in 15 points and Germaine Roebuck turned in a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in his first action of the season. The Eagles shot 39.7 percent – not nearly good enough to keep up with Concordia’s figure of 55.6 percent (30-for-54). The Bulldogs also outmuscled Judson on the boards, 44-30.

It’s now back to Nebraska and a return to conference play for the Bulldogs. They will head to Crete on Wednesday for a tussle with rival Doane (8-9, 3-4 GPAC) inside the Haddix Center. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT. The home team won last season’s two meetings.

Bulldogs to ring in new year at Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a successful Chicago road trip, the Concordia University men’s basketball team has returned to Nebraska. The Bulldogs will get back on the GPAC grind on Wednesday with a short trek to Doane. Concordia will finally entertain the home crowd on Saturday when No. 10 Morningside invades Walz Arena.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 3 at Doane (8-9, 3-4), 8 p.m. CT
Saturday, Jan. 6 vs. No. 10 Morningside (12-3, 4-1), 4 p.m. CT

Both of this week’s games will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country radio. A webcast for Wednesday’s contest can be found HERE. The Concordia Sports Network will provide coverage on Saturday.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback has guided his team to an 11-3 record, marking the program’s best 14-game start to a season since 2004-05. Last week in the Windy City, the Bulldogs notched road wins over Robert Morris University, 106-101, and Judson University, 89-74. Sophomore point guard Jake Hornick put up a career high 30 points at Robert Morris. Teammate Clay Reimers tallied 26 points and 12 rebounds at Robert Morris and then 26 points and 11 rebounds at Judson. Concordia is home to the GPAC’s rebound leader in Reimers (9.5) and assist leader in Hornick (5.14).

Doane has challenged itself with three nonconference contests against nationally ranked opponents over its past four games. The highlight of that stretch was an 81-70 upset of No. 22 College of the Ozarks on Dec. 20. Head coach Ian McKeithen’s headlining performer has been 6-foot-7 freshman guard Nick Kornieck, who averages a team high 16.6 points per game. The Tigers have been solid defensively, ranking fourth in the GPAC in field goal percentage defense (.438). Four of their five starters are freshmen.

Head coach at Morningside since 2003, Jim Sykes has put together a squad that stands near the top of the GPAC standings at 4-1 in conference play. Four of the Mustangs’ starters averaged at least a dozen points per game, including Brody Egger (15.1) and Tyler Borchers (15.1). Morningside is coming off of wins over York and Culver-Stockton College at the Briar Cliff Classic. It ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage offense (.505).

In next week’s action, the Bulldogs will host fifth-ranked Briar Cliff (16-2, 5-1 GPAC) on Jan. 10 and then travel to Yankton, S.D., to play Mount Marty (3-13, 0-7 GPAC) on Jan. 13.

Projected lineups

Concordia (11-3, 4-2)
G – Jake Hornick: 17.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 0.9 spg, .544 fg%, .449 3-pt fg%, .797 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.6 apg, .442 fg%, .342 3-pt fg%, .500 ft%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, .468 fg%, .413 3-pt fg%, .789 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.8 bpg, .486 ft%, .431 3-pt fg%, .800 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 17.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 0.7 bpg, .622 fg%, .656 ft%

Doane (8-9, 3-4)
G – Jaxon Harre: 5.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, .413 fg%, .575 ft%
G – Nick Kornieck: 16.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 spg, .469 fg%, .365 3-pt fg%, .714 ft%
G – Anthony Laravie: 13.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, .438 fg%, .376 3-pt fg%, .771 ft%
G – Rylee Zimmerman: 12.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg, .451 fg%, .753 ft%
C – Trace Tupper: 6.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg, .494 fg%, .581 ft%

Morningside (12-3, 4-1)
G – Pierce Almond: 7.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, .318 fg%, .309 3-pt fg%
G – Alex Borchers: 12.0 ppg, 4.2 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.9 spg, .537 fg%, .410 3-pt fg%, .690 ft%
G – Brody Egger: 15.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, .459 fg%, .422 3-pt fg%, .864 ft%
G – Zach Imig: 12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.1 spg, .517 fg%, .680 ft%
C – Tyler Borchers: 15.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .669 fg%, .634 ft%

Reimers collects national, GPAC player of the week accolades

GPAC release | NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A rising star, sophomore Clay Reimers reeled in his first career player of the week awards on Tuesday (Jan. 2). The NAIA named Reimers its National Division II Men’s Basketball Player of the Week while the conference tabbed Reimers as the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. Reimers is the program’s first conference player of the week award winner since Chandler Folkerts on Jan. 3, 2017 and its first national player of the week since Folkerts on Jan. 6, 2015.

A Lincoln East High School product, Reimers posted nearly identical stat lines in two wins last week in the Windy City. In the victory over Robert Morris University, Reimers totaled 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots on Dec. 29. A day later, he notched 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots in a win at Judson University. For the week, Reimers went an impressive 22-for-29 (.759) from the floor over a combined 55 minutes of action.

Reimers has gone from a reserve role last season as a freshman to one of the league’s top players in 2017-18. He tops the GPAC in rebounding (9.5) and ranks ninth in scoring (17.9). In 44 games as a Bulldog, Reimers has compiled 453 points and 248 rebounds.

Off to their best 14-game start (11-3) in more than a decade, the Bulldogs will be back in action at Doane (8-9, 3-4 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT in Crete.

Gillingham drops Doane with overtime buzzer beater

CRETE, Neb. – Head coach Ben Limback and the Concordia University men’s basketball team had scripted something a little bit different, but no one seemed to mind when the result was a mid-court celebration after the final buzzer had sounded at the Haddix Center. While whirling into the lane, sophomore Cordell Gillingham tossed in a shot off the glass just ahead of the horn, lifting the Bulldogs to a 79-77 overtime win at Doane on Wednesday night (Jan. 3).

The past three trips to Crete have all ended with deciding margins of three points or less. Limback’s squad was elated to have this one go its way. Concordia remains tied for second place in the GPAC standings and sits at 12-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play.

“I’m just so proud,” Limback said. “There are a lot of things to look at. We were sloppy and hesitant at times. I felt like we played not to lose down the stretch for the first time this year. With everything else, we were aggressive. I’m just proud of our guys. It was a great battle. Cordell had the guts to shoot that turnaround and make that big play.”

The Bulldogs had missed out on an opportunity to win it with possession of the ball and the shot clock turned off in regulation. The Tigers (8-10, 3-5 GPAC) clung to hopes of forcing a second extra session before Gillingham emerged. Gillingham received the ball on the left wing, then spun around into the lane after having the baseline cut off. His eight-foot shot over a leaping defender banked home and sent the visiting bench scurrying to greet him at center court.

Gillingham is not the team’s No. 1 scoring option, but he rose to the occasion on Wednesday with a bucket that could have a whole lot of meaning for a team off to its best 15-game start in more than a decade.

“I was more in shock than anything,” Gillingham said. “I just love my teammates. That shows what this team’s about. If anyone hits that shot, we’re all running out there to support each other. For it to be me today, I can’t ask for anything more. I just have to give it all to my teammates because they believe in me.”

At one point it appeared as though Concordia was the team on the verge of suffering a heartbreaking defeat. Doane went on a 12-0 run in the final four minutes of regulation and took a 69-68 lead with less than 1:30 to play. The Bulldogs edged back in front with a pair of Clay Reimers free throws before the Tigers pulled even and forced the overtime. Neither side led by more than two points the rest of the way in a true nailbiter.

The Bulldogs found a way despite shooting an uncharacteristically low 40.0 percent (30-for-75) from the floor. They made up in part by committing only six turnovers (compared to 13 by Doane) and with the work of senior Kyle Pierce, who filled the stat sheet with 20 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Pierce’s output helped overcome Doane rising star Nick Kornieck (20 points, nine rebounds, five blocks).

Limback leaned heavily upon the starting five once again. Four of them reached double figures in scoring: Pierce, Tanner Shuck (19 points), Gillingham (13 points) and Reimers (12 points, eight rebounds). Jake Hornick (nine points, 10 rebounds) just missed a double-double.

Said Limback, “We have to keep getting better. We’re excited about Cordell’s game winner. Now we have to get ready for Morningside.”

The Bulldogs have not been at home since defeating Hastings on Dec. 6. Finally, they will play inside Walz Arena once again when they host 10th-ranked Morningside (12-4, 4-2 GPAC) at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Mustangs swept the season series from Concordia in 2016-17 after the Bulldogs took two from Morningside the previous campaign.

Season low shooting percentage leads to blowout loss

SEWARD, Neb. – The Mustangs shot 51.7 percent from the field and the Bulldogs shot 31.0 percent. That basically sums up the story of Saturday afternoon’s (Jan. 6) contest inside Walz Arena. Three days after a pulse pounding overtime win at Doane, the Concordia University men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome its offensive struggles in an 80-57 loss at the hands of visiting Morningside.

The defeat put a halt to an 11-game home winning streak for fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s program. The Bulldogs slipped to 12-4 overall and to 5-3 in conference play.

What had been a reasonably competitive first half faded into a frustrating second half for the home team. By the 9:51 mark, the Mustangs (13-4, 5-2 GPAC) built a 20-point lead (59-39). A much more effective Morningside offense flowed through big man Tyler Borchers (14 points, seven rebounds), who helped set up gunner Brody Egger from 3-point range. Egger drained four treys and finished with 12 points.

The only player keeping Concordia’s offense afloat in the first half was Wednesday’s hero Cordell Gillingham. Eleven of his team high 13 points came during the first 20 minutes. No other Bulldogs reached double figures, although Jake Hornick (nine points, six rebounds) and Brevin Sloup (nine points) came close. Sloup went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, but the rest of the team went 4-for-27 from beyond the arc.

Four Morningside starters put up more than 10 points, including Zach Imig (15 points, seven rebounds) and Alex Borchers (14 points, seven rebounds). They helped provide plenty of offense for a Mustang squad that possessed a double digit lead for the final 12-and-a-half minutes of action. The spread grew as large as 28 points. Not only did Concordia get significantly outshot, it got outrebounded, 43-31.

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Wednesday (Jan. 10) to welcome fifth-ranked Briar Cliff (17-2, 6-1 GPAC) to Walz Arena. Tipoff in Seward is set for 8 p.m. CT. The Chargers had owned Concordia’s number until Limback’s squad broke through with an 87-79 home win last season over Briar Cliff, the eventual conference champion.

Bulldogs seek to rediscover offensive efficiency

SEWARD, Neb. – Another opportunity for a signature victory will greet the Concordia University men’s basketball team this week. The Bulldogs went through a range of emotions last week during a stretch that included a win at the gun in overtime at Doane and then a lopsided home defeat at the hands of 10th-ranked Morningside. Over the next five days, Concordia (12-4, 5-3 GPAC) will take on the conference foe that resides in first place (Briar Cliff) and in last place (Mount Marty).

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 10 vs. No. 5 Briar Cliff (17-2, 6-1)
Saturday, Jan. 13 at Mount Marty (3-15, 0-9)

Both of this week’s games will be covered live by 104.9 Max Country radio. Additionally, live webcasts will be available via the following links:Wednesday | Saturday.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad escaped Crete with a win on Jan. 3 thanks to the heroics of sophomore guard Cordell Gillingham, who tossed in the game-winning buzzer beater in overtime. Gillingham posted 13 points in both of last week’s outings while helping keep the Bulldogs afloat during the first half of the loss to Morningside. Gillingham is part of a loaded sophomore group that has been the driving force behind the program’s third 12-3 start during the GPAC era (2000-present). Concordia is currently tied for fourth place in the league standings after being picked eighth in the preseason.

For much of this season, the Bulldogs have been an efficient offensive team. They returned to Nebraska last week after shooting better than 55 percent from the floor in both road wins in the Chicago area just before New Year’s. Concordia then shot a season low 40.0 percent (7-for-30) at Doane before struggling even more versus Morningside (31.0 percent). Despite last week’s cold shooting, the Bulldogs still rank 13th nationally in 3-point field goals per game (10.4) and 26th in field goal percentage offense (.484).

Concordia will need to be on its game to keep up with Briar Cliff, which ranks eighth nationally with an average of 92.5 points per game. The Chargers have won six games in a row since their only GPAC defeat, a 103-94 setback at Midland. The defending GPAC champion, Briar Cliff has kept on humming under Mark Svagera, who replaced Nic Nelson as head coach. Svagera employs a trio of prolific scorers in Erich Erdman (20.5), Jay Wolfe (19.6) and Jackson Lamb (16.1).

Mount Marty and Briar Cliff matched up over the weekend with the result being an 84-63 Charger victory. The Lancers continue to seek their first conference win of the season. Senior guard Marcus Mathieu isn’t afraid to let it fly. He averages 18.9 points per game and has already shot 90 free throws (77.8 percent). Mount Marty also has a first-year head coach in Cody Schilling, who has the task of rebuilding a program that has hovered at the bottom of the GPAC in recent years.

Next week Concordia will be at Haskell Indian Nations University on Jan. 17 before returning home to host Dordt (9-10, 3-4 GPAC) on Jan. 20.

Projected lineups

Concordia (12-4, 5-3)
G – Jake Hornick: 16.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.8 apg, 0.9 spg, .515 fg%, .436 3-pt fg%, .813 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, .474 fg%, .333 3-pt fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, .440 fg%, .392 3-pt fg%, .750 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, .477 fg%, .371 3-pt fg%, .824 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 16.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.8 bpg, .592 fg%, .353 3-pt fg%, .667 ft%

Briar Cliff (17-2, 6-1)
G – Erich Erdman: 20.5 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.2 rpg, 1.8 spg, .538 fg%, .364 3-pt fg%, .905 ft%
G – Dylan Janecek: 3.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, .424 fg%, .233 3-pt fg%
G – Jackson Lamb: 16.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 spg, .469 fg%, .397 3-pt fg%, .795 ft%
G – Jay Wolfe: 19.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, .571 fg%, .513 3-pt fg%, .821 ft%
F – Blake Wiltgen: 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg, .612 fg%, .511 ft%

Mount Marty (3-15, 0-9
G – Shaye Bloch: 4.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, .446 fg%, .842 ft%
G – Conlan Callahan: 9.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, .393 fg%, .344 3-pt fg%, .913 ft%
G – Marcus Mathieu: 18.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, .379 fg%, .325 3-pt fg%, .778 ft%
G – Zane Schumaker: 3.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.7 rpg, 0.9 spg, .313 fg%, .273 3-pt fg%
F – Drew Cheskie: 10.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .545 fg%, .722 ft%

Defending GPAC champs hand Concordia second-straight home loss

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in four days, a team from Sioux City, Iowa, invaded Walz Arena and pulled away from the Concordia University men’s basketball team in the second half. A three-point halftime margin eventually grew as large as 22 as the Bulldogs fell at the hands of defending conference champion and first place Briar Cliff, 78-65, on Wednesday evening (Jan. 10).

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad had to bounce back from its 80-57 loss to 10th-ranked Morningside this past weekend. Instead, Concordia suffered a second home defeat in a row and slipped to 12-5 overall and to 5-4 in conference action.

“We didn’t trust each other tonight. I didn’t think the ball moved very well,” Limback said. “We had 14 turnovers. We can’t have that many. And they obviously hit the three more than we did. That was a big story. We wanted to go inside. We didn’t take advantage of that and we only shot nine free throws tonight. They did a good job walling up, but I didn’t think we finished very strong or posted up very strong.”

The Bulldogs began this season by winning each of their first five home games while averaging 88.6 points in those contests. However, the past two home outings have seen the well run dry. Concordia entered the night expecting to have to pile up a lot more than 65 points to keep up with a Charger team ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring. Zach Friel and company went through a red-hot stretch when they drained 10-out-of-11 shots. But the Bulldogs scuffled, going 16-for-46 (.348) the rest of the way.

The offensive woes meant that Concordia failed to snatch up an opportunity on a night when it held four Briar Cliff starters below their season scoring averages. The one exception was star junior guard Erich Erdman, who tallied a game high 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the floor. Erdman capped a death blow of a 15-2 run in the second half with a trey and then another bucket. The Chargers (18-2, 7-1 GPAC) led 61-46 with 11:50 remaining and maintained a double-digit lead through the final horn.

Friel (nine points on 3-for-6 3-point shooting) was the only significant offensive contributor off the bench for Concordia. Three Bulldog starters reached double figures: Tanner Shuck (11), Jake Hornick (10) and Clay Reimers (10). Collectively, Concordia shot 43.3 percent (26-for-60) compared to 46.6 percent (27-for-58) shooting by Briar Cliff.

The fourth-ranked Chargers, who are led by first-year head coach Mark Svagera, came into action shooting better than 50 percent from the field this season. Jay Wolfe (16) and Jackson Lamb (13) joined Erdman in double figures. Not only did Briar Cliff shoot better, it outrebounded the Bulldogs, 40-32, and had five fewer turnovers.

The Bulldogs will hit the road on Saturday and make a trip to Yankton, S.D., for a contest at Mount Marty (3-16, 0-0 GPAC). Tipoff was moved up to 3:30 p.m. CT. When the two sides met up inside Walz Arena on Nov. 21, Concordia trounced the Lancers, 105-63.

Bulldog upset at Mount Marty

YANKTON, S.D. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team appears to have left its offensive game in 2017. Since the calendar flipped to 2018, it’s been a struggle. The Bulldogs shot 35.4 percent from the floor on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 13) and slipped up at Mount Marty, 65-63. The result meant that the Lancers ended what had been a lengthy conference losing streak.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has dropped three-straight contests – all against GPAC opponents – and now stands at 12-6 overall and at 5-5 in conference play.

“Offensively we’re in a funk right now,” Limback said. “When we get an open shot, we can’t doubt ourselves. I think we’re still putting too much pressure on ourselves individually. We have to learn and grow closer as a team. We have to find ways to be tougher. I have to find a way myself to get these guys to believe in themselves and not feel that pressure.”

From an offensive standpoint, the Lancers (4-16, 1-9 GPAC) performed at about the same level that they did back on Nov. 21 when they visited Walz Arena. But in the latest meeting, Concordia couldn’t get it done on the offensive end. It shot poorly from every spot on the floor – 42.1 percent inside the arc, 26.9 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line. Those types of numbers are rarely associated with victories.

On the other hand, Mount Marty shot 37.5 percent and did enough to win – and that fact is huge for a program starving for one over a GPAC opponent. The Lancers essentially sealed the victory when Marcus Mathieu canned a pair of free throws to provide a four-point lead (65-61) with less than 10 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs were even too late to hoist up a prayer after the Lancers missed two free throws with 1.5 seconds left. The celebration was on in Yankton.

Concordia remains in search of answers in regards to its recent shooting woes. It ended 2017 by shooting 50 percent or better from the field in five-consecutive outings. Since then, the Bulldogs have turned in percentages of 40.0, 31.0, 43.3 and 35.4, respectively. Clay Reimers (13 points, 11 rebounds) was the team’s most effective option on Saturday, but he sat the final 11:23 of game time after being charged with his third and fourth fouls. He played only 15 minutes.

Jake Hornick helped keep the Bulldogs close down the stretch. He finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Always hustling, senior Kyle Pierce put up nine points and 13 rebounds. Only 10 combined points came from the Concordia bench.

“We have to have the confidence to make plays when we need them,” Limback said. “I have to get us to buy into how good we can be. It starts with daily preparation. It starts with hard work and a competitive edge in practice. That’s something we told them afterwards. We have to have confidence in our preparation.”

In a reserve role, Jailen Billings dropped a game high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Shaye Bloch (12) and Conlan Callahan (10) also reached double figures in scoring for the Lancers, who picked up their first conference win since February 2014. To Mount Marty’s credit, it came close to claiming GPAC wins in home defeats by five points or less to both Morningside and Hastings.

The Bulldogs will dip outside of conference play on Wednesday (Jan. 17) with a trip to Lawrence, Kan., and a clash with Haskell Indian Nations University (5-14). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT. In last season’s meeting inside Walz Arena, Concordia blew out the Indians, 104-72, while shooting 58.2 percent from the floor.

Concordia looking to regain confidence outside conference play

SEWARD, Neb. – Perhaps a dip outside of conference play will provide a cure to what has been ailing the Concordia University men’s basketball team since the calendar flipped to 2018. In last week’s action, the Bulldogs went up against the GPAC’s first place team (Briar Cliff) and its last place team (Mount Marty) and came up empty in large part because of a recent shooting slump. A Wednesday trip to Lawrence, Kan., is up next for fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 17 at Haskell Indian Nations University (5-14), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 20 vs. Dordt (9-12, 3-6 GPAC), 4 p.m.

Wednesday’s road game can be seen live online via Haskell’s Stretch Internet portal. Saturday’s home contest will be carried by 104.9 Max Country radio and by the Concordia Sports Network.

Concordia would simply like to get back to playing the way it did prior to New Year’s Day. It ended 2017 by shooting 50 percent or better from the field in five-straight games. During their three-game skid, the Bulldogs have shot 36.6 percent from the field. Backcourt standouts Jake Hornick (.326) and Tanner Shuck (.261) have shot well below their norms since ringing in 2018. In a home meeting with the Lancers on Nov. 21, Concordia won easily (105-63) while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor. It dipped a full 20 percent in this past weekend’s frustrating defeat in Yankton, S.D.

Kyle Pierce’s continued production has been a positive. The native of Haxtun, Colo., has taken off as a senior. Last week he posted lines of nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals versus Briar Cliff and nine points, 13 rebounds and two steals at Mount Marty. Pierce is now averaging 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, far exceeding his production in his first two seasons at Concordia. He stands as the team’s fourth leading scorer behind Clay Reimers (16.1), Hornick (15.7) and Shuck (13.9).

Haskell Indian Nations visited Walz Arena last season with the result being a 104-72 Bulldog victory. The Indians are 0-4 this season against GPAC opponents having dropped games against Briar Cliff, Doane (twice) and Midland. Haskell likes to hoist the 3-point shot. It has made 197 of them (13th nationally in 3-point field goals per game) this season. Its best outside shooter has been Tristan Keah-Tigh, who knocks down treys at a 39.8 percent clip.

Dordt enters the week hoping to put a stop to a four-game conference losing streak. Though the Defenders are just 9-12, they have proven capable of going on the road and winning. Dordt has claimed GPAC road victories over then No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan and Midland and also took then top-rated Northwestern to overtime in Orange City. Active defensively, the Defenders rank sixth nationally in steals per game (9.7). They also possess a variety of scoring options with a roster including eight players averaging more than 7.0 points per game.

The Bulldogs will be on the road for three games next week. Concordia is scheduled to play at Hastings (14-7, 4-5 GPAC) on Jan. 24 before shifting focus to the 67th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament (Jan. 26-27), set to take place in Mequon, Wis.

Projected lineups

Concordia (12-6, 5-5)
G – Jake Hornick: 15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.3 apg, 0.9 spg, .495 fg%, .435 3-pt fg%, .791 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 7.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, .467 fg%, .326 3-pt fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 13.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, .428 fg%, .386 3-pt fg%, .720 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.8 bpg, .461 fg%, .333 3-pt fg%, .806 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 16.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 bpg, .610 fg%, .653 ft%

Haskell Indian Nations (5-14)
G – Bryon Elledge: 8.3 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.3 spg, .305 fg%, .805 ft%
G – Tristan Keah-Tigh: 11.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, .452 fg%, .398 3-pt fg%, .872 ft%
F – Macauley Brown: 9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, .541 fg%, .667 ft%
F – Nakia Hendricks: 12.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .506 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%, .632 ft%
F – Keith Moore: 9.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, .409 fg%, .357 3-pt fg%, .793 ft%

Dordt (9-12, 3-6)
G – Chad Barkema: 8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.9 spg, .541 fg%, .368 3-pt fg%, .600 ft%
G – Chandler Brunsting: 8.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.4 spg, .496 fg%, .413 3-pt fg%, .789 ft%
G – Kobe Critchley: 4.0 ppg, 1.8 apg, 1.6 rpg, .528 fg%, .538 3-pt fg%, .813 ft%
G – Ben Gesink: 7.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, .479 fg%, .529 ft%
G – Marcus Winterfeld: 12.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, .503 fg%, .377 3-pt fg%, .816 ft%

Shooting touch rediscovered at Haskell

LAWRENCE, Kan. – This looked more like the Concordia University men’s basketball team that showed up for the first 15 games of the 2017-18 season. On Wednesday night (Jan. 17), the Bulldogs got right. They shot 64 percent during the first half and turned a nonconference tilt at Haskell Indian Nations University into a 91-65 blowout victory.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ended a three-game skid and moved to 13-6 overall. Concordia has slipped up just one time outside of GPAC action.

“Offensively the ball was moving well,” Limback said. “Right away Tanner (Shuck) gets a shot to go. We talked the last few days – all it takes is for one to go in. Don’t lose confidence. Just keep playing. I knew this day would come in terms of getting back in a rhythm. I was proud how we also came on the road and defended. In the first half we ran the floor really well and got transition buckets to ignite our offense.”

The Bulldogs gave the ball away too many times for Limback’s liking, but they got the offensive output they desperately needed in order to regain confidence. Sophomore Tanner Shuck busted out of a slump in a big way, going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc on his way to a game high 26 points. Shuck buried a trey in the opening minute and later converted a four-point play that provided Concordia its first double-digit lead of the evening.

After a disappointing loss four days earlier at Mount Marty, the Bulldogs couldn’t afford to take any opponent lightly, nor did they have any desire to take their foot off the gas. Clay Reimers initiated a 10-0 run early in the second half with a 3-point basket. At that point, Concordia led by 23 (58-35) and had full control. Its advantage grew to as many as 31 points during a dominant second half splurge.

Shuck and the rest of the starting group had no difficulty scoring on this particular night. Shuck also grabbed eight rebounds while Reimers contributed 20 points, six rebounds and five assists and Jake Hornick tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Collectively, the Bulldogs shot 56.4 percent (31-for-55) from the floor, canned 14-of-31 (.452) 3-point attempts and drained 15-of-17 (.882) tries from the free throw line.

Such efficiency blew away the Indians (5-15), who have come up empty in five contests this season against GPAC opponents. Haskell’s Tristan Keah-Tigh dropped 18 points while going 4-for-6 from 3-point range. The Indians shot 36.2 percent as a team. They made only 6-of-28 (.214) heaves from beyond the arc.

Concordia is hopeful it has found its mojo back. Said Limback, “The Mount Marty game was a big wakeup call. There was a lot of frustration and disappointment all in one. We really talked about getting back to focusing on the day-to-day process and not on the outcomes or the standings. We wanted to focus on just getting better. That’s the important lesson.”

It will be back to conference play on Saturday when the Bulldogs entertain Dordt (10-12, 4-6 GPAC) inside Walz Arena. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CT. The two sides met in Sioux Center, Iowa, back on Dec. 2 with the result being an 85-80 Concordia victory behind a 17-point output from Seward native Brevin Sloup.

Dawgs stuff Dordt

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldogs are back to having fun. Sophomore Clay Reimers threw down an exclamation mark of an alley-oop while he and his teammates stifled the offensive attack of visiting Dordt. The Concordia University men’s basketball team sent the Defenders packing in what culminated in a 74-59 Bulldog win inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 20).

It was important for fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad to get back on the right track this week on the heels of a three-game conference skid. Concordia (14-6, 6-5 GPAC) piggybacked on top of Wednesday’s 91-65 triumph at Haskell Indian Nations University with another solid performance.

“They went on a little run with some threes (in the second half) and I thought we answered it with some tough buckets and free throws,” Limback said. “Clay had two free throws and Chris (Johnstone) had some big free throws during that run. I’m proud of the guys to defensively come out here and handle them and be able to get a win at home.”

Reimers was active all game long. He played a big part in the struggles Dordt experienced offensively. The Defenders (10-13, 4-7 GPAC) shot only 33.8 percent (22-for-65) from the floor (28.6 percent from 3-point range). Reimers wreaked havoc by blocking four shots and by getting his long arms into the passing lanes (three steals). Said Limback, “I thought Clay was really big tonight on both ends.”

The Bulldogs led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the advantage dwindled down to five (55-50) with 8:29 remaining in the game. That’s when Concordia showed the mettle of a team capable of landing a spot in the top four of the conference. The Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run that started with a bucket by Riley Tegtmeier and ended with one from Kyle Pierce. Just when the Defenders attempted to get on a roll with the help of a three-point play, Pierce pounced with a steal and dunk in transition.

Concordia was glad to get Chris Johnstone back on the floor after he missed the previous two contests due to an unusual issue with his right eye. He provided a spark off the bench while nailing all eight free throw attempts and 2-of-3 shots from the floor for 12 points to go along with a pair of steals.

“I didn’t practice the last couple of days but it was good to be back out there,” Johnstone said. “I could see the rim, see my teammates and play defense. I just played my role the best I could. I really think we all fed off it. We all played together.”

On the offensive end, Reimers went for 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field. Point guard Jake Hornick (10 points, nine assists, eight rebounds) again came close to a triple-double. Off the bench, Zach Friel and Brevin Sloup contributed eight points apiece. Collectively, the Bulldogs shot an impressive percentage of 62.8 (27-for-43), helping overcome 19 turnovers.

Dordt had just come off a 78-66 home win over No. 19 Dakota Wesleyan. The Defenders were well shy of their season average of 89.0 points per game. They were led by the 14 points from Ben Gesink. The rest of the starting lineup produced a meager 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting.

Two middle-of-the-conference squads will go head-to-head in Hastings on Wednesday (8 p.m. CT) when the Bulldogs take on the Broncos (15-7, 5-5 GPAC), who have won five of their last six contests. Hastings is coming off a 96-72 upset of fourth-ranked Briar Cliff. Following action in Hastings, Concordia will head to the 67th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament (Jan. 26-27).

Previewing CIT week on the men's side

Hosted by Concordia University, Wisconsin in Mequon, Wis. (R. John Buuck Field House)

CIT links
CU-Wisconsin tournament page
Advance tickets (available until 12 p.m. Jan. 24)
Live webcasts for CIT games
Radio coverage: 104.9 Max Country
Game recaps/interviews
Info for CUNE fans attending CIT

$20 advanced weekend pass | $25 weekend pass purchased on site | $15 day pass | children under six are free

2018 Concordia Invitational Tournament Schedule

Friday, Jan. 26

  • 1 p.m. – Nebraska vs. Ann Arbor (women)
  • 3 p.m. – Nebraska vs. Ann Arbor (men)
  • 6 p.m. – Wisconsin vs. Chicago (women)
  • 8 p.m. – Wisconsin vs. Chicago (men)

Saturday, Jan. 27

  • 12 p.m. – Women’s consolation game
  • 2 p.m. – Men’s consolation game
  • 4 p.m. – Dance/Cheer competition
  • 5:30 p.m. – Women’s championship game
  • 7:30 p.m. – Men’s championship game

Watch Party at Bottle Rocket
Bottle Rocket Brewing Co. in Seward will host a watch party for all Bulldog games during CIT. The R. Bar of Staplehurst will be serving food on both days. Bottle Rocket Brewing Co. is located at 230 South 5th Street in Seward.

CIT Dominance
The Bulldog men’s basketball program has dominated the Concordia Invitational Tournament, capturing an event high 27 all-time CIT titles. Only two other Concordias have won more than 10 CIT championships: St. Louis (16) and Chicago (14). Head coach Ben Limback’s squad has won each of the last two CITs and three of the last four. Chandler Folkerts garnered CIT MVP honors in both 2016 and 2017. While hosting CIT in 2017, the Bulldogs routed the competition, defeating CU-Chicago, 104-82, and then CU-Ann Arbor, 85-58, in the championship game. A year earlier, CUNE escaped the Windy City after surviving a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in the title game win over CU-Wisconsin. Limback has won five CIT titles as a head coach having also led CU-Ann Arbor to championships in 2006 and 2007.

Back on track
The Bulldogs (14-6, 6-5 GPAC) returned to form last week with wins by comfortable margins over both Haskell Indian Nations University, 91-65, and Dordt, 74-59. CUNE broke out of a recent shooting slump by posting percentages of 56.4 (Haskell) and 62.8 (Dordt) during last week’s action. Sophomore Clay Reimers put together two solid games, totaling 38 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and five steals. Tanner Shuck went wild at Haskell, knocking down 6-of-9 shots from beyond the arc on the way to a game high 26 points. In the conference race, the Bulldogs sit fifth, only one game behind third-place Northwestern.

Up next
Before placing its focus upon CIT, CUNE has a difficult road game coming up at Hastings (15-7, 5-5 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff from Lynn Farrell Arena is set for 8 p.m. CT. The Broncos are playing good basketball having won six of their last seven games. They rebounded impressively from a 71-58 loss at Doane on Jan. 10 by winning at No. 10 Northwestern, 106-94, and then at home over fourth-ranked Briar Cliff, 96-72. The Bulldogs are looking for a season sweep of Hastings. The first meeting ended with an 81-75 CUNE win inside Walz Arena on Dec. 6. All five starters for CUNE scored in double figures while the Bulldogs outshot the Broncos, 51.9 to 37.7 percent.

The men’s CIT field

Concordia University, Nebraska
Head coach
: Ben Limback, 5th year
Record: 14-6
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference (NAIA Division II)
Location: Seward, Nebraska
Top player: For much of the first half of the season, Jake Hornick has been the team’s steadying force as a revelation at the point guard spot. The sophomore from Loveland, Colo., contributes in so many areas, averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and nearly one steal per game. He and fellow sophomores Clay Reimers and Tanner Shuck make for fun-to-watch up-and-coming trio.
Key stat: This team is not quite as prolific offensively as it was last season when it averaged 88.7 points and shot 52.8 percent from the field, but it has improved significantly in terms of perimeter defense. The 2016-17 team allowed teams to shoot 46.1 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from the 3-point line. Those figures have dropped to 42.9 percent and 31.8 percent, respectively, in 2017-18.
CIT titles: 27 (most recent: 2017)

Concordia University, Ann Arbor
Head coach
: Ricky Yahn, 5th year
Record: 7-14
Conference: Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (NAIA Division II)
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Top player: 6-foot-6 senior forward Connor Phee has been a productive player in his four seasons in Ann Arbor. Now at 1,275 career points, Phee is averaging career highs of 17.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game this season.
Key stat: The Cardinals allow 76.2 points and score 70.9 points per game. CUAA ranks inside the top 50 nationally in just one key team statistical category – blocks per game (3.0).
CIT titles: 3 (most recent: 2015)

Concordia University, Chicago
Head coach
: Randy Rogers, 3rd year
Record: 2-14
Conference: Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division III)
Location: River Forest, Illinois
Top player: Junior guard Mitch Pelissier has been a bright spot for a squad that has gotten off to a tough start. Pelissier likes to air it out and averages 22.0 points per game. He’s the lone Cougar to have started each of the team’s first 16 games. His career point total stands at 1,100 entering the week.
Key stat: CUC likes to go up-tempo. The Cougars and their opponents have combined to average 170 points per game. The downside for CUC is that its foes put up 90.8 points per contest and shoot 47.7 percent from the floor.
CIT titles: 14 (most recent: 2011)

Concordia University, Wisconsin
Head coach
: Shawn Cassidy, 11th year
Record: 10-8
Conference: Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division III)
Location: Mequon, Wisconsin
Top player: Junior guard Josh Hau earned second team all-conference accolades last season. In 2017-18, Hau is averaging 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game as the team’s top offensive threat.
Key stat: The Falcons are 5-2 at home this season, pushing their home mark to 82-34 (.707) during Shawn Cassidy’s tenure as head coach at CUW. The last time the Falcons hosted CIT (2014), CUNE dealt them a 68-64 defeat in the championship game.
CIT titles: 3 (most recent: 2013)

Pierce and company shoot the lights out at Hastings

HASTINGS, Neb. – Host Hastings had entered the night winner of six of its last seven games and fresh off a 96-72 thumping of then fourth-ranked Briar Cliff. But on Wednesday night (Jan. 24), the Concordia University men’s basketball team dropped the hammer on the Broncos. The Bulldogs blistered the Lynn Farrell Arena nets by shooting 60.3 percent in a 93-83 win for the visitors.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has impressively rebounded from a three-game skid by winning three in a row – all by double-digit margins. Concordia, now tied for fourth in the GPAC standings, sits at 15-6 overall and at 7-5 in conference play.

“It was a battle of two different style,” Limback said. “They’re big and physical and try to pound it inside. We try to spread you out and utilize our speed and perimeter scoring. We did a great job. Kyle (Pierce) was really good and guys fed off that. We started moving the ball and our spacing and ability to attack their close outs was giving us great looks in the first half.”

The final score actually made this game appear much closer than it really was. The Bulldogs led by as many as 24 points in a surprisingly comfortable road triumph that made for a regular-season sweep of Hastings (15-8, 5-6 GPAC). Concordia started the game 17-for-23 from the floor and 7-for-9 from 3-point range in an onslaught that left the Broncos shell-shocked. Hastings couldn’t keep up even though it shot well in its own right (54.2 percent from the floor).

The rise of Kyle Pierce continues in his senior season. The lanky 6-foot-5 native of Haxtun, Colo., tallied six of the Bulldogs’ first eight points and didn’t stop until he had a career best 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three steals. Pierce and the rest of the starting five operated at peak offensive efficiency. They each racked up at least 14 points while collectively going 33-for-49 (.673) from the field.

Really, they just didn’t miss – much. Pierce went 7-for-12. Jake Hornick went 7-for-10 and had 17 points. Cordell Gillingham went 7-for-10 and tallied 16 points. Clay Reimers was a near perfect 6-for-7 with 14 points. Finally, Tanner Shuck knocked down 6-of-10 shots for 14 points. All this damage was inflicted upon a Hastings team that came into Wednesday ranked second in the GPAC in field goal percentage defense (.434).

The only senior on the roster, Pierce has ramped up his production in a big way for a Concordia squad that has surprised some outsiders.

“He was spectacular,” Limback said of Pierce. “When Clay and Zach (Friel) got fouls in the first half we went small with him. He did a great job of fighting defensively as well. To lead us in scoring and rebounding just shows his heart and the urgency you want out of that senior.”

Four Broncos made their way into double figures in scoring, led by 16 points from Tyler Hedlund. Hastings was unable to return the favor after falling at Concordia, 81-75, on Dec. 6.

The goal before the week is out is for the Bulldogs to claim their 28th Concordia Invitational Tournament title all-time. CUNE will draw Concordia University, Ann Arbor (7-14) at 3 p.m. CT on Friday in what will be the first men’s game of the event. All 2018 CIT games will take place on the Concordia University, Wisconsin campus, home to R. John Buuck Field House.

“I felt like they knew the importance of Wednesday’s game,” Limback said. “There are a lot of things that can distract you with CIT coming up. I felt like our guys locked in and knew it was important.”

CUNE falls in CIT heartbreaker

MEQUON, Wis. – A steal and layup by Emmanuel Dominguez in the closing seconds on the opening day of the 2018 Concordia Invitational Tournament resulted in heartbreak for the Bulldogs on Friday (Jan. 26) in Mequon, Wis. Despite rallying back from an 11-point deficit to knot the score, CUNE suffered a 56-54 loss at the hands of Concordia University, Ann Arbor.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s program had hoped to defend its 2016 and 2017 CIT titles. Instead, the Bulldogs slipped to 15-7 overall and will be relegated to the consolation game.

“We just had a disappointing start to the second half,” Limback said. “We gave up a big run. We had to switch to zone. Clay (Reimers) got his fourth foul and Zach (Friel) went down. I thought we did a good job in the zone. That helped us stay in the game. We just couldn’t get the offense clicking. Ann Arbor did good things defensively. I told the team we have to be more consistent offensively.”

What a difference a couple of days and nearly 600 miles on the road made for CUNE, which torched the nets at Hastings in a 93-83 GPAC win on Wednesday. This time around, the Bulldogs barely shot above 40 percent from the field and turned it over 18 times. The final turnover proved most debilitating. After Limback had called timeout with the score tied 54-54 and eight seconds showing on the clock, Dominguez stole the inbounds and raced to the other end for the game-winning bucket.

Is some ways, this felt like the loss CUNE endured at CIT in 2015 when a last-second three lifted CUAA over the Bulldogs in the championship in Ann Arbor. The inconsistencies that plagued CUNE during its recent three-game skid emerged again on Friday. The Bulldogs got off to a miserable start to begin the second half, watching a 31-30 halftime lead turn into a 42-31 deficit.

Over the final five minutes, it appeared that the Cardinals were trying to simply hold on for dear life. After Connor Phee put CUAA up 54-45 with a bucket at the 5:00 mark, the Cardinals did not score again until the contest’s deciding basket. A methodical 9-0 run was spurred by CUNE’s switch to a zone defense that flummoxed CUAA. Reimers both started and ended the spurt that pulled the Bulldogs even. His tip in tied it up with 31 seconds left to play.

CUNE took a hit in the frontcourt when Reimers quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls at the beginning of the second half. Not long after, Friel left due to injury. With 9:41 remaining in the game, Limback knew he had to roll the dice and put Reimers back in the game. When Reimers could keep himself on the court, the Bulldogs were the better team.

Sophomore Cordell Gillingham helped give CUNE a fighting chance by totaling a team high 16 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Reimers finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action. The starting five combined for only 45 points.

Jalen Thompson (20) and Phee (18) contributed 38 of the team’s 56 points. The Cardinals were held to 42.9 percent shooting while doing just enough. When Reimer’s 3-point attempt misfired at the buzzer, CUAA celebrated as if it had won the CIT championship.

The 67th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament will pick back up on Saturday when the Bulldogs will play in the consolation game. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. CT inside R. John Buuck Field House. CUNE is not used to playing in the early game on Saturday of CIT.

“Nobody comes to this tournament wanting to play in the consolation game, but we have to show we can respond,” Limback said. “We have to show we can bounce back. Let this burn inside of you and drive you to go harder tomorrow.”

Bulldogs bounce back on day two of CIT

MEQUON, Wis. – The Bulldogs quickly made everyone forget about an early 17-8 deficit by flipping the switch back on in regards to its offensive attack. The CUNE men’s basketball team not only dug out of the early hole with ease, it effectively bounced back from a heartbreaking defeat on day one of the Concordia Invitational Tournament. With a 95-87 win over Concordia University, Chicago on Saturday (Jan. 27), the Bulldogs ensured that they wouldn’t leave the 67th annual CIT empty handed.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad salvaged one CIT win after having its hopes of a third-straight CIT title and 28th all-time dashed. CUNE stands at 16-7 overall.

“The first two or three minutes of the first half I thought we were a little sluggish,” Limback said. “They came out and did some good things and then I thought we turned up the defense. That led to some offense and really sparked us. Tanner (Shuck), Brevin (Sloup) and Kyle (Pierce) started getting going. Jake (Hornick) and Clay (Reimers) got going. It just snowballed.”

The Bulldogs played their best stretch of basketball all weekend during the latter stages of the first half. CUNE’s stars played like stars in helping it construct a lead as large as 22 points. The only problem was that CUC’s Mitch Pelissier never quit – and he can ball. Pelissier drained a trey just before the halftime buzzer and eventually led his squad on a second half rally that made a game of it.

The Cougars (2-17) chipped away at their deficit by outworking the Bulldogs on the boards. CUC’s biggest advantage came in second chance points (23-8). Overall, the Cougars outrebounded CUNE, 45-35, while grabbing 18 offensive rebounds. Those boards kept possessions alive when Pelissier (33 points, 11-for-27 shooting) did happen to miss the mark.

In the final minute, the Bulldogs had to sweat. With 37 seconds left, CUC’s Henry Woo knocked down two free throws to make it a six-point game (93-87). On the ensuing possession, Kyle Pierce misfired on a potential game-clinching trey, but CUNE caught a break when Clay Reimers was fouled on the rebound. Reimers nailed both free throws to seal the victory.

Reimers (16 points, nine rebounds) and a host of other key players played significantly better a day after a defeat in the waning seconds. Jake Hornick steered his side to a win by posting 21 points and 10 rebounds. Tanner Shuck (20), Kyle Pierce (13 points, three blocks) and Brevin Sloup (11 points) also reached double figures. Hornick and his teammates wanted to make sure they came back home with at least one win.

“We really didn’t want to lose obviously,” Hornick said. “We just knew we had another game and it’s still CIT. We had to come out and play and do our best.”

A 54.8 percent first half shooting clip served as a major reason for CUNE’s ability to win on Saturday. The Bulldogs shot 47.5 percent for the game. They went an impressive 16-for-37 from 3-point range. On the other end, CUC shot 43.6 percent.

It’s back to GPAC play for the final six games of the regular season for the Bulldogs. Up next is Wednesday’s trip to Midland (12-12, 4-10 GPAC) for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff in Fremont. CUNE hopes to complete a season sweep of the Warriors after having defeated them 86-72 in Seward on Nov. 15.

“We’re pumped,” Limback said. “We can’t wait to get back to Fremont and to league play. That’s our focus right now – to celebrate this one, cheer on our women (in CIT championship game) and get ready for the GPAC.”

CIT All-Tournament Team
MVP: Jalen Thompson, CUAA
Jordan Johnson, CUW
Mitch Pelissier, CUC
Connor Phee, CUAA
Clay Reimers, CUNE

Back to GPAC action

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldog men’s basketball team came up short in its bid to keep the Concordia Invitational Tournament trophy at home, but significant games remain on the schedule. Each of the final six regular-season games will be played against GPAC competition. The stretch run begins with Wednesday’s journey to Fremont where the Bulldogs hope to claim a season sweep of Midland. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad continues to jockey for a top-four finish in the conference.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 31 at Midland (12-12, 4-10 GPAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 3 vs. No. 11 Northwestern (18-4, 8-4 GPAC), 4 p.m. (white out)

Live radio coverage of this week’s action will be provided by 104.9 Max Country with Tyler Cavalli again on the call. Midland will feature a live webcast on Wednesday HERE while the Concordia Sports Network will carry Saturday’s game HERE.

Last week was somewhat of a mixed bag for the Bulldogs (16-7, 7-5 GPAC), who passed a challenging road test in a 93-83 win at Hastings on Jan. 24. On that night, CUNE’s five starters combined to go 33-for-49 (.673) from the floor with a collective 84 points. Senior Kyle Pierce tallied a career high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Unfortunately, that play did not carry over to Friday’s 56-54 loss to Concordia University, Ann Arbor on the opening day of CIT. Though the program missed the CIT championship game for the first time since 2011, the Bulldogs regrouped with a 95-87 victory over Concordia University, Chicago.

Some amount of inconsistency seems reasonable for a team that has relied so heavily all season upon a budding sophomore class. One of those sophomores, Clay Reimers, was named to the CIT all-tournament team while totaling 24 points and 17 rebounds over two games in Mequon, Wis. Jake Hornick (21 points, 10 rebounds vs. CU-Chicago) and Tanner Shuck (20 points vs. CU-Chicago) are also capable of going off for big games. The quick rise of the sophomore and the elevated play of Pierce have given CUNE hope of earning a home game in the GPAC quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.

The Bulldogs drilled 15 3-pointers while taking care of Midland, 86-72, in Seward on Nov. 15. The Warriors have gone through some in-season roster changes but still possess a solid trio of players in Ryan Williams (17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Chase Parsons (13.8 ppg) and Nick Wood (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg). Head coach Oliver Drake’s squad put an end to a six-game conference losing streak with a 99-95 win at Dordt on Jan. 27.

Ranked as high as No. 1 this season, 11th-ranked Northwestern fended off Concordia, 111-103, in Orange City, Iowa, on Dec. 15. The Bulldogs know firsthand how prolific Red Raider star Colton Kooima has been. He racked up 51 points in this season’s first meeting. As good as Kooima is, he is in a close battle with Nathan Wedel (21.1 ppg) for the team season scoring lead. Head coach Kris Korver’s squad sports national rankings of third in scoring offense (93.5) and fourth in field goal percentage (.516). Northwestern won with defense in its most recent outing, triumphing 66-57 while limiting No. 9 Morningside to 32.7 percent shooting.

Concordia will make two separate trips to Sioux City, Iowa, next week for games at No. 4 Briar Cliff (21-4, 10-3 GPAC) on Feb. 7 and at No. 9 Morningside (18-5, 10-3 GPAC) on Feb. 10.

Projected lineups

Concordia (16-7, 7-5)
G – Jake Hornick: 15.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, .506 fg%, .413 3-pt fg%, .794 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 8.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.9 spg, .480 fg%, .323 3-pt fg%
G – Tanner Shuck: 14.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, .443 fg%, .393 3-pt fg%, .741 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg, .466 fg%, .359 3-pt fg%, .816 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 15.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 bpg, .623 fg%, .653 ft%

Midland (12-12, 4-10)
G – Marti Fonolla: 7.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg, .507 fg%, .357 3-pt fg%
G – Laurence Merritt: 7.2 ppg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 rpg, .344 ft%, .302 3-pt fg%
G – Chase Parsons: 13.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, .426 fg%, .373 3-pt fg%, .750 ft%
F – Ryan Williams: 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, .521 fg%, .481 3-pt fg%, .754 ft%
F – Nick Wood: 9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .620 fg%, .700 ft%

Northwestern (18-4, 8-4)
G – Chris Borchers: 4.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, .563 fg%, .300 3-pt fg%
G – Kolton Kooima: 21.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.0 spg, .450 fg%, .404 3-pt fg%, .903 ft%
G – Nathan Wedel: 21.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.4 spg, .618 fg%, .396 3-pt fg%, .844 ft%
F – Riley Francis: 12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, .516 fg%, .365 3-pt fg%, .803 ft%
F – Spencer Pauley: 3.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .521 fg%, .688 ft%

Bulldogs fall short at Midland

FREMONT, Neb. – It seemed like eons ago since the Concordia University men’s basketball team met and defeated Midland in Seward to open up conference play back on Nov. 15. This time around, the Bulldogs put together a gritty defensive effort, but got outplayed down the stretch and fell by a score of 67-61 in Fremont on Wednesday night (Jan. 31).

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad entered the night with hopes of claiming back-to-back GPAC road wins over in-state rivals. Instead, Concordia slipped to 16-8 overall and to 7-6 in league play.

“We had a couple free throws that didn’t go in and I thought we took some rushed shots and panicked a little bit,” Limback said of the closing sequences. “I’m proud of our guys defensively for really guarding and playing really, really hard. We were really active. They started to hit some threes against our zone so we had to get out of it, but I really liked how hard we were playing defensively.”

This game was up for grabs. No team held a lead larger than four points the entire second half until Shak Triplett nailed his final four free throws to provide the final winning margin for the Warriors (14-12, 5-10 GPAC). The contest was ultimately decided when the Bulldogs came up empty down 63-61 with under 30 seconds left. Jake Hornick missed a driving layup and Concordia was tagged with a technical foul on the ensuing rebound. Game over.

The dynamics have changed for Oliver Drake’s crew, which no longer has the services of two players who started when Midland played at Walz Arena in November. On the other hand, Triplett (12 points, eight rebounds) is a welcome second semester addition. Triplett, Ryan Williams (15 points, nine rebounds) and Reggie Gradwell (12 points, five rebounds) supplied just enough offense for the Warriors to get by the Bulldogs.

All five starters went at least 30 minutes for Concordia, which failed to pack its outside shooting (4-for-19 from 3-point range) on the road. Four Bulldogs reached double figures: Tanner Shuck (15 points, two steals), Clay Reimers (14 points, 12 rebounds), Kyle Pierce (14 points, five rebounds) and Hornick (12 points, four rebounds). Collectively, the Bulldogs shot just 40.4 percent from the floor compared to the Warriors’ 41.1 percent clip.

“They had a lot of length and I think that bothered us at times,” Limback said. “Even still, we didn’t finish well and make free throws well enough to come away with a win.”

Concordia ended the month of January with four-consecutive games away from home. That stretch began with an impressive offensive display in a 93-83 win at Hastings. The Bulldogs then split two games at the annual Concordia Invitational Tournament. An injury suffered at CIT kept big man Zach Friel off the court for the second game in a row. Three home contests remain on the regular-season slate.

The Bulldogs hope to claim their first victory over a top 25 opponent this season when No. 11 Northwestern (19-4, 9-4 GPAC) invades Walz Arena on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CT in Seward. Concordia is seeking to avenge a 111-103 loss in Orange City, Iowa, on Dec. 15. Fans are encouraged to wear white in support of the ‘white out’ at Walz.

Signature win eludes Concordia

SEWARD, Neb. – The good news: Colton Kooima has played his last game at Walz Arena. The bad news: the prolific senior guard racked up 37 points on Saturday and led visiting 11th-ranked Northwestern to an 83-73 win over the Concordia University men’s basketball team. The Red Raiders escaped Seward with a win despite going just 6-for-27 (.222) from beyond the 3-point arc.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad remains in search of that signature win within conference play. Still in a fight for a top four finish and the right to host a conference tournament quarterfinal game, the Bulldogs stand at 16-9 overall and at 7-7 in conference play.

“I thought we really guarded hard in the second half,” Limback said. “I was really proud of our guys coming out of half defensively. I thought they made some tough shots, but we started to get in a rhythm. We had some key moments with about six or seven minutes left where we just kept turning it over. That’s the tough balance with being aggressive without forcing it. They’re too good for us to have 15 turnovers.”

Concordia would be just fine if it never had to see Kooima again. In two Red Raider wins this season over the Bulldogs, Kooima rattled off a combined 88 points, including 51 in the meeting in Orange City, Iowa. The two-man wrecking crew of Kooima and Nathan Wedel (22 points, nine rebounds) teamed up for a collective 59 points. As a squad, Northwestern shot 45.8 percent from the floor, significantly lower than its season average of 51.5 percent entering the afternoon.

What stings for Concordia is that this one was there for the taking. After trailing by eight (46-38) at the half, the Bulldogs got within two points on three separate occasions during the second half. Too often, Concordia couldn’t get the big basket it had to have. During one stretch late in the game, it gave the ball away on three-straight possessions, helping the Red Raiders (20-4, 10-4 GPAC) build a double-digit advantage.

The Bulldogs wasted a career high 20 points from Cordell Gillingham, who went 8-for-18 from the floor while making all three of his attempts from long range. Clay Reimers (16 points, 10 rebounds) contributed a double-double and Jake Hornick (10) and Tanner Shuck (10) both reached double figures. However, Concordia’s shooting percentage of 42.6 (23-for-54) wasn’t going to cut it against one of the nation’s top offensive teams.

“I thought we guarded the well enough today,” Limback said. “Those two guys (Kooima and Wedel) are going to score. The other guys – we did a good job. They shot 22 percent from three. We just had that stretch offensively where we turned it over and didn’t take advantage of our stops. Against a team like this we have to be able to score points.”

Northwestern is right in the mix as part of a three-team race for the GPAC regular-season title. With Saturday’s win, the Red Raiders pulled within a half-game of Briar Cliff (11-4) and Morningside (11-4) atop the league standings. Briar Cliff and Morningside both lost on Saturday.

A challenging week on the road in Sioux City, Iowa, awaits the Bulldogs next week. It gets started on Wednesday (Feb. 7) when a battle at fourth-ranked Briar Cliff (22-5, 11-4 GPAC) unfolds. The contest is set to tip off at 8 p.m. CT from the Newman Flanagan Center. Concordia will attempt to avenge a 78-65 home loss to Briar Cliff that occurred on Jan. 10.

Co-GPAC leaders up next

SEWARD, Neb. – Coming off back-to-back GPAC losses last week, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will have no break in its schedule. In the midst of playing four ranked opponents in their final five games of the regular season, the Bulldogs (16-9, 7-7 GPAC) now face a pair of road games against GPAC co-leaders Briar Cliff and Morningside. Concordia will have an opportunity to play the role of championship spoiler while also hopeful of enhancing its chances of a top four conference finish.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 7 at No. 4 Briar Cliff (22-5, 11-4 GPAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 10 at No. 9 Morningside (19-6, 11-4 GPAC), 4 p.m.

Twenty-five games into the season, head coach Ben Limback is still looking for more consistency from an offense that has run hot and cold. From a defensive standpoint, the Bulldogs performed well enough to win both games last week. They held Midland (41.1 percent) and Northwestern (45.8 percent) well below their season averages in scoring and shooting percentage. Concordia has been one of the GPAC’s best defensive teams, sporting conference rankings of first in field goal percentage defense (.434) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.310) and second in scoring defense (75.9).

Sophomore Clay Reimers continues to top the GPAC in rebounding with an average of 8.7 per game. The Lincoln East High School product enjoyed a solid week of action while putting up 14 points and 12 rebounds at Midland and 16 points and 10 rebounds versus Northwestern. Reimers has pushed his GPAC best double-double total to nine this season. Cordell Gillingham went off for a career high 20 points versus Northwestern. He made 8-of-10 shots from the floor and added six rebounds and two steals. Off the bench, freshman Noah Valasek played a season high 16 minutes and totaled six points.

After starting out 8-1 in conference play, Briar Cliff is 3-3 over its past six games. The Chargers suffered their first home loss of the season last week at the hands of No. 18 Dakota Wesleyan. Briar Cliff shot an uncharacteristically low 35.9 percent in that defeat. First-year head coach Mark Svagera’s squad has typically been a prolific offensive team behind the likes of Erich Erdman (19.4 ppg), Jay Wolfe (18.1 ppg) and Jackson Lamb (15.6). The Chargers lead the nation in 3-point field goals per game (12.3). They sank 11 treys in their 78-65 win at Concordia on Jan. 10.

Morningside is right in the mix atop the conference along with Briar Cliff. The Mustangs missed out on an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place when they fell at Hastings, 91-80, on Feb. 3. An efficient offensive squad, Morningside ranks third nationally in field goal percentage (.514). In this season’s first meeting, the Mustangs held the Bulldogs to 31.0 percent shooting in an 80-57 victory for Morningside. Four Mustang starters average more than 12 points per game, including team leader Brody Egger (15.5 ppg), who ranks in the top 40 nationally in free throw shooting (.882) and 3-point shooting (.450).

Next week will be the final week of regular-season action. Concordia will host Doane (12-14, 6-9 GPAC) on Feb. 14 and then Dakota Wesleyan (19-8, 9-6 GPAC) on Feb. 17. The finale will serve as senior day for the program. Kyle Pierce is the team’s lone senior.

Projected lineups

Concordia (16-9, 7-7)
G – Jake Hornick: 14.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.2 apg, .482 fg%, .381 3-pt fg%, .793 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 8.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, .479 fg%, .329 3-pt fg%, .657 ft%
G – Tanner Shuck: 13.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, .450 fg%, .392 3-pt fg%, .721 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 11.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, .461 fg%, .353 3-pt fg%, .815 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 bpg, .607 fg%, .406 3-pt fg%, .667 ft%

Briar Cliff (22-5, 11-4)
G – Erich Erdman: 19.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.7 spg, .519 fg%, .375 3-pt fg%, .890 ft%
G – Dylan Janecek: 3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, .416 fg%, .261 3-pt fg%, .652 ft%
G – Jackson Lamb: 15.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 spg, .463 fg%, .383 3-pt fg%, .836 ft%
G – Jay Wolfe: 18.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.9 spg, .533 fg%, .477 3-pt fg%, .836 ft%
F – Blake Wiltgen: 9.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, .613 fg%, .531 ft%

Morningside (19-6, 11-4)
G – Pierce Almond: 6.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .323 fg%, .299 3-pt fg%, .692 ft%
G – Alex Borchers: 13.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, .568 fg%, .460 3-pt fg%, .792 ft%
G – Brody Egger: 15.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, .490 fg%, .450 3-pt fg%, .882 ft%
G – Zach Imig: 12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.2 spg, .505 fg%, .257 3-pt fg%, .638 ft%
C – Tyler Borchers: 14.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .662 fg%, .657 ft%

Charger 3-pointers sink Bulldogs

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In a hostile road environment, the Concordia University men’s basketball team never fully recovered from a 13-2 hole right out of the gate on Wednesday night (Feb. 7). Still hopeful of defending its GPAC title, Briar Cliff rolled to an 84-58 win over the Bulldogs, who will want to quickly flush this night from their memories.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has now dropped three in a row, including two against nationally-ranked opponents. Concordia slipped to 16-10 overall and to 7-8 in conference play with three games remaining in the regular season.

“We’ve shown the ability to defend the three this season and Briar Cliff has shown the ability to shoot the three,” Limback said. “We certainly didn’t defend it tonight. We just didn’t compete. I was disappointed with that. Clearly I didn’t get these guys ready to play. Our execution has to be better at both ends.”

This one really got out of hand early in the second half. The Bulldogs actually entered the night ranked third nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.310), but they did little to slow down NAIA Division II’s most prolific outside shooting team. The Chargers went 18-for-37 (.486) from long range while putting Concordia in their rearview mirrors. Hot 3-point shooting seemed contagious throughout the entire roster. Jackson Lamb served as one of the arch villains. He went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.

Sophomore Clay Reimers emerged as the lone consistent source of offense for Concordia. He tallied 20 points and eight rebounds while continuing to pace the GPAC in rebounding. With 11 points, sophomore Cordell Gillingham was the only other Bulldog to reach double figures. Concordia shot 43.1 percent (22-for-51) from the field and a miserable 3-for-16 (.188) from 3-point range. Reimers made all three of the Bulldog treys. The team’s 19 turnovers didn’t help.

Briar Cliff (23-5, 12-4 GPAC) remained in a first-place tie with Morningside in the GPAC standings. Lamb (16 points) led a group of four Charger double-figure scorers. Jay Wolfe turned in a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds). Briar Cliff led by as many as 33 points (66-33) before coasting to the finish line.

The Bulldogs will have the pleasure of returning to Sioux City on Saturday for another battle with a top-10 ranked foe. Concordia and No. 10 Morningside (20-6, 12-4 GPAC) will tipoff from the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center at 4 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs will aim to avenge an 80-57 home loss at the hands of the Mustangs that occurred on Jan. 6.

Said Limback, “We have to get our edge back. We have to be able to withstand some adversity better. There’s no time to hang our heads.”

Morningside brushes Bulldogs out of town

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Despite draining 13 treys, the Concordia University men’s basketball team suffered a second-straight defeat in Sioux City, Iowa, to a highly-ranked opponent. The Bulldogs hung tight for a half, but they were unable to contain Morningside’s Tyler Borchers in an 86-68 loss on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 10).

The 10th-ranked Mustangs (21-6, 13-4 GPAC) kept pace with Briar Cliff (13-4 GPAC) atop the league standings. Meanwhile, head coach Ben Limback’s squad is still attempting to end its slide. Concordia dropped to 16-11 overall and to 7-9 in conference play.

“We were living and dying by the three and just couldn’t get anything inside. That was a big key,” Limback said. “That first half we shot really well but didn’t score a lot in the paint. In the second half they went on a run where we didn’t do a good job in transition.

“I thought we played much harder (than in Wednesday’s loss at Briar Cliff), especially in the first half. We can’t take our foot off the gas. We have to continue to fight. We weren’t physical enough. It really showed on the free throw line.”

Three different Bulldogs canned a triple as part of a 14-5 run to open up the game. It was downhill from there. From the 9:46 mark of the first half and on, Morningside possessed the lead. The Mustang advantage steadied in double figures for the final 7:26 of game time. Borchers was too much inside. He piled up 27 points and 12 rebounds. In the backcourt, Brody Egger (22 points) enjoyed a nice night.

The difference in the lane was glaring. Morningside finished with a 40-18 edge in points in the paint and outrebounded Concordia, 35-30. Not only that, the Bulldogs shot only four free throws (3-for-4) and were minus-nine in turnovers (15-6). It didn’t help that the team’s top offensive threat on Saturday, Cordell Gillingham, was limited in the second half due to foul trouble. He wound up fouling out with 4:04 left in the game.

Gillingham lit it up in the first half when he made all five shot attempts – four from beyond the arc – while piling up all 14 of his team high points. Four of his teammates put up 10 or more points: Jake Hornick (13 points, five assists), Brevin Sloup (13), Tanner Shuck (11 points, five rebounds) and Clay Reimers (10 points, six rebounds). The Bulldogs shot 46.4 percent as a team.

Tyler Borchers, Egger and Matthew Hahn (14 points) combined for 63 points as a prolific trio. The Mustangs made 61.5 percent of their shots taken inside the arc. Their overall percentage stood at 52.5 (32-for-61). Morningside went 14-for-21 (.667) from the foul line.

The Bulldogs will close out the 2017-18 regular season next week with a pair of home contests. Doane (13-15, 7-9 GPAC) will make its way to Seward on Wednesday (Feb. 14) for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff. Back on Jan. 3, Concordia escaped Crete with a 79-77 overtime win with the help of a game-winning buzzer beater delivered by Gillingham.

Pierce to be honored during final week of regular season

SEWARD, Neb. – The final week of the regular season has arrived for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. The Bulldogs hope to make an end-of-season push as the career of senior Kyle Pierce begins to wind down. During the current four-game skid, Concordia has dropped three on the road, meaning it’s glad to be back at home this week to host Doane and 17th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 14 vs. Doane (13-15, 7-9 GPAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 17 vs. No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan (19-9, 9-7 GPAC), 4 p.m.

Both games this week will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country and by theConcordia Sports Network. Fans are encouraged to wear red on Wednesday to support the 'red out.'

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad still has hopes of claiming the No. 4 seed and a home game in the quarterfinals of the GPAC tournament. Only one scenario will allow that to happen – if the Bulldogs can win their final two regular-season games and pull even with Dakota Wesleyan and Hastings in a three-way tie for fourth place. Concordia would have the tiebreaker based on a 3-1 record versus the Tigers/Broncos. The Bulldogs last hosted a GPAC postseason game in 2011 when the format gave first-round byes to the top five seeds. The 2009-10 team was the last to earn a top-four conference finish.

Since a 12-3 start to the season, Concordia has run hot and cold from an offensive standpoint. Since defeating Doane in overtime on Jan. 3, the Bulldogs have reached the 75-point mark only twice in 12 outings. The 75-point figure has been a magic number this season. Concordia is 15-2 when tallying at least that many points. Better offensive play this week could allow the Bulldogs to claim a win over a ranked opponent for the first time in nine tries this season.

Pierce has played a much bigger role in his season than he did in his first two years as a Bulldog. Over 75 career games, the Haxtun, Colo., native has put up 449 points, 290 rebounds, 40 blocks and 39 steals. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds this season. Additionally, Chris Johnstone will also be honored on senior day. The transfer from Chaminade University will forego his one season of eligibility remaining beyond 2017-18.

A young Doane team has been similarly inconsistent during the 2017-18 campaign. Last week provided a perfect example. The Tigers picked up a win at Hastings in the middle of the week before falling at home to Nebraska Christian College. Head coach Ian McKeithen has regularly filled his starting lineup with four freshmen, including budding star Nick Kornieck, a Las Vegas native who averages 17.3 points and 5.1 rebounds. Doane is 5-8 in true road games this season.

Concordia will try to avenge its 77-69 loss at Dakota Wesleyan on Nov. 18. Meanwhile, head coach Matt Wilber’s squad hopes to strengthen its case for a national tournament bid. The Tigers will host 10th-ranked Northwestern on Wednesday before shifting focus to Saturday’s trip to Seward. Dakota Wesleyan boasts an impressive star trio of Jason Spicer (19.4 ppg), Ty Hoglund (18.8 ppg) and Trae Vandenberg (15.4 ppg). In their most recent outing, the Tigers lost, 84-83, on a buzzer beater at No. 10 Morningside.

Dates for the GPAC tournament that begins next week are Feb. 21, 24 and 27. The winner receives an automatic bid to the national tournament (March 7-13).

Projected lineups

Concordia (16-11, 7-9)
G – Jake Hornick: 14.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, .481 fg%, .379 3-pt fg%, .797 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 8.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, .495 fg%, .355 3-pt fg%, .632 ft%
G – Tanner Shuck: 13.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, .439 fg%, .382 3-pt fg%, .718 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 10.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.9 spg, .453 fg%, .346 3-pt fg%, .804 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 15.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.2 bpg, .611 fg%, .436 3-pt fg%, .657 ft%

Doane (13-15, 7-9)
G – Nick Kornieck: 17.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg, .479 fg%, .402 3-pt fg%, .718 ft%
G – Anthony Laravie: 12.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, .441 fg%, .405 3-pt fg%, .724 ft%
G – Zach Witters: 6.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, .352 fg%, .370 3-pt fg%, .884 ft%
G – Rylee Zimmerman: 12.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, .453 fg%, .309 3-pt fg%, .746 ft%
C – Trace Tupper: 7.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .566 fg%, .583 ft%

Dakota Wesleyan (19-9, 9-7)
G – Ty Hoglund: 18.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg, .487 fg%, .394 3-pt fg%, .844 ft%
G – Trae Vandeberg: 15.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, .464 fg%, .345 3-pt fg%, .900 ft%
F – Nygel Drury: 10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, .533 fg%, .423 3-pt fg%, .694 ft%
F – Collin Kramer: 6.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, .453 fg%, .348 3-pt fg%, .577 ft%
F – Jason Spicer: 19.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.6 apg, .601 fg%, .424 3-pt fg%, .725 ft%

Concordia takes second half command, earns sweep of Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – An 18-3 run in the second half pulled the Concordia University men’s basketball team out of a deficit – and out of a four-game skid. After halftime, visiting Doane mustered only 26 points while the Bulldogs pulled away for a 71-56 victory inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night (Feb. 14). The Tigers went just 2-for-11 from 3-point range and star Nick Kornieck was limited by foul trouble.

Some home cooking was just what fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad needed after a grueling week on the road against the top two teams in the GPAC standings. Concordia (17-11, 8-9 GPAC) has fallen out of contention for a top-four league finish, but a much needed win over a nearby rival was a nice consolation.

“We just tried to get back to being confident offensively and executing better,” Limback said. “I thought we executed really well in the second half. Defensively is where we have to continue to hang our hat. We really guarded well tonight and limited their leading scorer. Their point guard (Anthony) Laravie is a great player and I thought we did a good job on him. Defensively is where we have to continue to battle.”

Superb play on the defensive end meant the Bulldogs needed only a dab of offensive firepower on this particular night. After falling behind 46-42 midway through the second half, Concordia put the squeeze on Doane (13-16, 7-10 GPAC). The Bulldogs went on an 18-3 run that covered 6:29 of game time, during which the Tigers managed just a single made field goal.

Any notion Doane had of a dramatic comeback was halted in the closing three-and-a-half minutes by a Clay Reimers put back and a Tanner Shuck three-point play not long after. It was time to empty the bench and salt away the seventh home victory of the season.

“It was very important,” Reimers said. “We had all sorts of guys coming off the bench making big plays for us. I think it’s really big for us to get this win tonight because we struggled the last couple games.”

While not a prolific offensive night, Concordia stayed under control and committed just 10 turnovers. Reimers shot only five times but put up a solid stat line of eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Jake Hornick just missed a double-double, going for 16 points and nine rebounds. Cordell Gillingham added 15 points (6-for-11 shooting) while continuing a scoring surge. The starters did most of the scoring, but Alec Johnston and Grant Storebo dropped in a bucket apiece in the game’s final minutes.

Limback has recently put more trust into freshmen Noah Valasek and big man Alex May, who has helped cover for the injury to Zach Friel.

“They’re getting better every day,” Limback said. “They have great attitudes and they work hard. We have a lot of guys that are doing that. Our end-of-the-bench guys really came to work in practice this week. When we do that, everybody gets better. Everybody has to be ready.”

Doane had creeped up into a tie with the Bulldogs heading into the night. The Tigers’ two double figure scorers were Trace Tupper (15) and Rylee Zimmerman (14). Doane shot 41.2 percent from the field compared to the 45.8 percent clip posted by Concordia.

The Bulldogs will conclude the regular season on Saturday when 17th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (20-9, 10-7 GPAC) makes its way to Seward for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff. In the season’s first meeting that took place at the Corn Palace, the Tigers topped Concordia, 77-69, on Nov. 18. The Tigers knocked off No. 10 Northwestern, 85-69, on Wednesday.

Struggles from 3-point arc doom Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – At this point in time, the Concordia University men’s basketball team doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan. The visiting Tigers vanquished the Bulldogs, 80-53, behind their torrid 50 percent shooting from behind the arc on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 17).

The loss meant that fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad missed out on an opportunity to finish the regular season with a .500 league record. The Bulldogs slotted in sixth in the GPAC while going 17-12 overall and 8-10 in conference action.

“They’re a good team. They execute well and they share the ball,” Limback said. “We weren’t able to execute offensively. That’s something we have to get better at. We didn’t make shots either which really hurt us in the first half.”

The Tigers (21-9, 11-7 GPAC) jetted out to a 19-6 lead and never looked back. Collin Kramer enjoyed a big first half while far exceeding his season scoring average (6.5 ppg). He went off for all 17 of his points over the first 20 minutes while helping stake Dakota Wesleyan to an 18-point advantage at the break. It didn’t get much better over the final 20 minutes.

The 3-point shooting performances told the story of the game. The Tigers went 14-for-28 from long range while Concordia went just 5-for-30 (.167). The Tigers put six different players in double figures in scoring and five of them knocked down at least two 3-point field goals. The efficient Dakota Wesleyan team also turned the ball over only five times.

On the bright side, sophomore Clay Reimers pushed his GPAC high double-double total to 10 by piling up 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also swatted six Tiger shots. The only other Bulldog to reach 10 or more points was Cordell Gillingham (11). Concordia shot 35.0 percent (21-for-60) overall and 30.0 percent when taking Reimers out of the equation.

Chris Johnstone and Kyle Pierce were recognized prior to tipoff. Both players played the final regular-season home game of their career on Saturday.

As the No. 6 seed, the Bulldogs will be headed to third-seeded Northwestern (23-5, 13-5 GPAC) for a GPAC tournament quarterfinal matchup in Orange City, Iowa. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday (Feb. 21) in what will be the third meeting of the season between the two sides. With the help of a combined 88 points from star Colton Kooima, the Red Raiders swept two-regular season contests from Concordia.

Said Limback, “We have to come out and defend on the road. We have to defend their two scorers and also rebound, which is a key against Northwestern. Offensively, we have to have guys who are confident and ready to go.”

Concordia looks to end postseason drought in Orange City

SEWARD, Neb. – Its season will be on the line on Wednesday night when the Concordia University men’s basketball team takes the court at the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa. Head coach Ben Limback’s sixth-seeded squad will battle third-seeded Northwestern in the third matchup of the season between the two sides. The Red Raiders won the first two meetings, 111-103 in Orange City and 83-73 in Seward.

Wednesday, Feb. 21
Concordia (17-12, 8-10) at No. 10 Northwestern (23-5, 13-5), 8 p.m.
Orange City, Iowa | Bultman Center
Admission: $8 for adults, $3 for students (GPAC students free with ID)
Webcast: Stretch Internet

Concordia would be happy to regain the offensive stroke it showed on Dec. 15 in Orange City. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 54.7 percent from the floor while going 15-for-29 (.517) from 3-point range. Tanner Shuck and Kyle Pierce both tallied at least 20 points. That outing came during a 12-3 start to the season during which Concordia shot 50 percent or better eight times. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 5-9 and have shot below 50 percent 11 times, including eight outings in a row.

When star sophomore Clay Reimers can avoid foul trouble, he’s been one of the GPAC’s top players. He leads the conference in rebounding (8.8 per game) and double-doubles (10). He’s been a consistent source of production while leading also leading the team in scoring (15.5) and blocked shots (38). In last week’s loss to 17th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan, Reimers totaled 17 points, 12 rebounds and six rejections. He’s the leader of a sophomore group including seven players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. They are looking to end a nine-year program drought without a postseason win.

Concordia knows it has its hands full with a Northwestern squad that ranks fourth nationally in scoring average (91.7) behind the GPAC’s top two scorers, Nathan Wedel (21.3) and Colton Kooima (21.2). Kooima has been nightmare for the Bulldogs. He poured in a school record 51 points in the Dec. 15 meeting and then 37 at Walz Arena on Feb. 3. Not only does Wedel lead the team in scoring, he also tops the Red Raiders in rebounds, assists and steals. Head coach Kris Kover’s squad missed out on a chance to share the conference regular-season title when it lost last week at Dakota Wesleyan. It’s the only defeat Northwestern has suffered in its last seven outings.

The winner will move on to Saturday’s semifinal round and play either second-seeded Briar Cliff (24-6, 13-5 GPAC) or seventh-seeded Doane (13-17, 7-11 GPAC). The highest remaining seeds earn the right to host each round.

2018 GPAC Men’s Basketball Tournament

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 21
No. 8 Dordt (12-18, 6-12) at No. 1 Morningside (23-6, 14-4), 7 p.m.
No. 5 Hastings (20-10, 10-8) at No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan (21-9, 11-7), 8 p.m.
No. 6 Concordia (17-12, 8-10) at No. 3 Northwestern (23-5, 13-5), 8 p.m.
No. 7 Doane (13-17, 7-11) at No. 2 Briar Cliff (24-6, 13-5), 7 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 24
No. 1/8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner, Time TBA
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner, Time TBA

Championship – Feb. 27
Hosted by highest remaining seed, Time TBA

Projected lineups

Concordia (17-12, 8-10)
G – Jake Hornick: 14.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg, .470 fg%, .354 3-pt fg%, .798 ft%
G – Cordell Gillingham: 8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, .498 fg%, .349 3-pt fg%, .619 ft%
G – Tanner Shuck: 13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, .439 fg%, .373 3-pt fg%, .716 ft%
F – Kyle Pierce: 10.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.9 spg, .442 fg%, .331 3-pt fg%, .810 ft%
F – Clay Reimers: 15.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 2.1 apg, .608 fg%, .409 3-pt fg%, .662 ft%

Northwestern (23-5, 13-5)
G – Riley Francis: 12.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, .502 fg%, .360 3-pt fg%, .813 ft%
G – Colton Kooima: 21.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, .452 fg%, .387 3-pt fg%, .910 ft%
G – Parker Mulder: 6.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, .573 fg%, .444 3-pt fg%, .857 ft%
G – Nathan Wedel: 21.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.5 spg, .589 fg%, .392 3-pt fg%, .836 ft%
F – Spencer Pauley: 2.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg, .500 fg%, .676 ft%

Sophomore-laden squad ends season at Northwestern

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s basketball team didn’t know it until late in Wednesday’s contest, but the winner that emerged victorious from the battle at the Bultman Center would earn the right to host Saturday’s GPAC semifinal clash. That thought made it sting a bit more after the Bulldogs’ 2017-18 season ended with a 107-87 loss at 11th-ranked Northwestern in conference postseason action.

Fifth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad never quite got over the hump this season when up against the top four seeds in the GPAC’s final standings. Concordia heads into the offseason at 17-13 overall.

“Coming in, we knew were going to have to at least compete with them on the boards,” Limback said. “We didn’t do it – 37-22. The bottom line was we just didn’t rebound well enough.

“We decided to make some other guys beat us. We wanted to take (Colton) Kooima and make him distribute it. You have to tip your hat to the guys that normally don’t shoot a lot for them. They stuck it. We had to adjust. They’re just a really good team.”

The sophomore combo of Jake Hornick (26 points, 9-for-14 from the floor) and Clay Reimers (19 points, four assists) showed why there’s plenty of optimism for where the program is headed. The two standouts helped the Bulldogs go 10-for-12 (6-for-8 from 3-point range) to begin Wednesday’s contest. The early flurry helped Concordia lead by as many as six points during the first half.

It’s fair to say that the Red Raiders (24-5) just had too many weapons. After Kooima burned the Bulldogs for a combined 88 points in two regular-season meetings, Limback made it a point of emphasis to limit the Northwestern sharpshooter. Kooima had only eight points, but he dished out eight assists and five of his teammates poured in 13 or more points. Riley Francis and Nathan Wedel were the ringleaders with 25 apiece. Collectively, the Red Raiders shot 63.6 percent and were 16-for-28 from beyond the arc.

Down 68-47 early in the second half, Concordia had one last gasp. It went on a 10-0 spurt and twice whittled the deficit down to eight thanks to triples by Hornick and Noah Valasek. Down the stretch, the stops didn’t come. Francis and Wedel both drained a trey in the final few minutes to put the finishing touches on a Northwestern win.

It marked the final collegiate game in the careers of Chris Johnstone and Kyle Pierce. Pierce has been the lone senior on this year’s roster while Chris Johnstone will forego his last season of eligibility. The bulk of Limback’s varsity roster is set to return in 2018-19. Seven sophomores on the 2017-18 roster averaged more than 10 minutes per game.

“Kyle and Chris are tremendous people. We’re certainly going to miss their team mentality and who they are as people,” Limback said. “There’s a lot of excitement moving forward because a lot of our nucleus was young this year. The goal now is to grow and get better.”

Pierce tallied 11 points while joining Hornick and Reimers in double figures. The Bulldogs shot 52.5 percent overall and 12-for-33 (.364) from 3-point range. The program remains in search of its first postseason victory since 2009.

Hornick, Reimers named to GPAC second team

Men’s Basketball All-GPAC

SEWARD, Neb. – Four Bulldogs represented the Concordia University men’s basketball team on the all-conference teams released on Wednesday (Feb. 28) by the GPAC. Sophomores Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers earned second team accolades while fellow sophomores Cordell Gillingham and Tanner Shuck garnered honorable mention recognition for the Bulldogs, who finished the 2017-18 season at 17-13 overall.

Hornick took over the role of point guard this season and thrived. The native of Loveland, Colo., averaged 14.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from 3-point range and 78.8 percent from the free throw line this winter. A starter in all 30 games, Hornick racked up a career high 30 points in a win at Robert Morris University on Dec. 29. Over the 18 conference outings, Hornick averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

One of the top post players in the GPAC, Reimers also took a leap forward in his sophomore campaign. Over 29 games, Reimers averaged 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.31 blocks per game while shooting 60.9 percent from the floor and 66.4 percent from the free throw line. Among conference players, Reimers ranked first in double-doubles (10) and rebounding and second in blocks per game and field goal percentage. Reimers produced a career high 26 points on back-to-back days (Dec. 29-30) and earned NAIA national player of the week honors. He also collected a CIT all-tournament award.

Gillingham, who hails from Greeley, Colo., moved into a starting role this season after playing a total of 82 minutes as a freshman. One of three Bulldogs to start all 30 games, Gillingham averaged 8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 48.6 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from beyond the arc and 61.9 percent from the foul line. Gillingham was responsible for one of the season’s most memorable moments. He nailed an overtime buzzer beater to knock off Doane in Crete.

The team’s top outside shooting threat, Shuck drilled a Bulldog best 74 treys this season. He averaged 13.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists while posting shooting percentages of 44.6 from the field, 37.3 from 3-point range and 72.0 from the free throw line. Shuck’s 29 points at Dakota Wesleyan were a career best. He reached the 20-point mark five times this season.