SEWARD, Neb. – Things got started slowly, but Tanner Shuck and the Concordia University men’s basketball team took control after the halftime break on their way to a 94-67 win over Nebraska Christian College on Saturday (Dec. 1). The Bulldogs blistered the Walz Arena nets by draining 14 3-point field goals to sink the National Christian College Athletic Association opponent.
Sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has won three of its last four outings to move to 7-4 overall.
“Our mindset was better in the second half,” Limback said. “They came out really aggressive and I didn’t think we matched that to start the game. I thought the second half was better. At halftime we talked about continuing to take care of the ball and defensively helping off screens.”
Shuck misfired on his first five shots while the Sentinels built an early 18-11 advantage. The offensive lull didn’t last. Shuck buried seven 3-point field goals in the process of putting up a game high 26 points. What was a competitive five-point spread (45-40) early in the second half ballooned to as many as 31 points thanks to some outside sniping and a smothering defensive effort. Nebraska Christian shot just 40.0 percent (12-for-30) from the floor in the second half.
The Bulldogs are a tough customer when Shuck and fellow junior Brevin Sloup are knocking down shots. Sloup also had a fine day, posting 14 points, six rebounds and five assists while netting 3-of-5 attempts from long range. Four others also knocked in a triple for a Concordia squad that shot 49.2 percent overall.
“It’s a blast,” Shuck said of playing alongside Sloup. “You know that he’s going to hit some shots and he’s going to find the open guys too. He’s super unselfish. He’s not going to get mad at you for taking a bad shot. He’s going to encourage you. He’s a great player and he can do a lot offensively. It’s fun to play with him.”
One reason for concern entering the contest was the presence of prolific scorer DJ Hanes of the Sentinels (4-6). He poured in a team high 25 points, but only seven of them came after halftime. Devin Jones (13 points and seven rebounds) was the only other Nebraska Christian player to reach double figures. The Sentinels came into the day as owner of a win over one NAIA foe: Dakota State University.
Ryan Holt (10 points and four rebounds) joined Shuck and Sloup as double-digit scorers. Tanner Wubbels (nine points and seven rebounds) and Gage Smith (nine points) both made solid contributions off the bench. Wubbels and Smith were two of the nine freshmen to see action. Concordia turned the ball over just eight times, went 20-for-22 from the foul line and held a 43-30 advantage on the boards.
The Bulldogs are now 6-0 in nonconference play. The trick is to carry that success over to GPAC action. The second half fight against second-ranked Morningside on Wednesday may have been a start.
“A couple things we really emphasized after that were take care of the ball and attention to detail throughout the game,” Shuck said. “We had eight turnovers today, which was a lot better.”
The Bulldogs will return to conference play on Wednesday with a short trek to Doane (2-8, 0-5 GPAC) for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff from the Haddix Center. Last season’s matchup in Crete was a classic. Concordia escaped with the victory thanks to a buzzer beater in overtime. The Bulldogs have won each of the last three meetings with the Tigers.