ORANGE CITY, Iowa – A halftime advantage evaporated for the Concordia University men’s basketball team, which was outclassed in the second half by host Northwestern on Saturday (Feb. 2). The Red Raiders outscored the Bulldogs, 54-37, over the final 20 minutes while pulling away for a 79-64 victory in Orange City, Iowa.
Sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has been red hot when playing inside Walz Arena. With a team still in the growth stages, that type of play has not always translated on the road. Concordia is now 14-13 overall and 6-11 in the GPAC.
“We did a pretty good job on their two leading scorers,” Limback said. “In the second half they were able to get the ball inside and we were fouling too much. Our offense wasn’t good enough to overcome it. I liked our defensive effort the majority of the first half. We guarded and got off to a good start, but the biggest key was our offense sputtered. We really never found a rhythm.”
In recent outings, the Bulldogs have put plenty of load weight on the shoulders of Seward High School product Brevin Sloup. He has responded well much more often than not. He put up 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting on Saturday. Sloup and Tanner Shuck (17 points; 7-for-14 shooting) combined for a large chunk of the offensive production. The rest of the team shot a combined 11-for-28 from the field.
Northwestern (15-10, 9-7 GPAC) was able to sweep the regular season series despite getting only a combined 13 points from Trent Hilbrands and Jay Small. That duo entered the day averaging 33.1 points collectively. The damage was done by the likes of Parker Mulder (17), Isaac Heyer (14) and Steven Kragt (12), who each reached double figures. The Red Raiders shot 26.5 percent from the field in the first half and then heated up to 60 percent in the second half. They also went 24-for-28 from the foul line.
Concordia’s cause was also hurt by the foul trouble of Chuol Biel. He played just 17 minutes, meaning Northwestern had the fortune of operating without its opposition’s top low post defender for more than half the game. The Bulldogs still managed to have a slight edge in rebounding, 37-36.
Limback’s crew was a bit too sloppy to have a chance of coming away with the road win. Concordia committed 18 turnovers to just eight by the Red Raiders. The Bulldogs are also working on developing consistent scoring options beyond Shuck and Sloup. In this contest, Sammy Adjei chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench.
“Brevin has been a warrior for us,” Limback said. “We need other guys to step up and do more offensively, especially on the road. We’re learning lessons and we’ll be ready for a big week next week.”
Northwestern is now 7-2 over its last nine games. It bounced back from a surprisingly lopsided 72-49 loss at Doane on Jan. 26. The Red Raiders currently reside in fifth place in the league standings.
The Bulldogs will face a stiff challenge on Wednesday when they hit the road to take on third-ranked Morningside (22-1, 15-1 GPAC) in an 8 p.m. CST tipoff in Sioux City, Iowa. The Mustangs’ lone loss this season came by an 86-82 score at then 18th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan on Jan. 2. Morningside held off Concordia, 77-70, inside Walz Arena on Nov. 28.