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Concordia shakes off slow start, wins fourth home clash in a row

Concordia shakes off slow start, wins fourth home clash in a row

SEWARD, Neb. – The dramatic reversal of fortunes within conference play continues for the Concordia University men’s basketball team, which has suddenly made Walz Arena a treacherous road venue for the opposition. Visiting Dordt had hopes of running away with Wednesday (Jan. 30)’s contest while rattling off the first nine points of the evening. But Brevin Sloup and company responded and gutted out a 72-69 victory.

Sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has now won five of its last six games within GPAC play and has triumphed in four straight at home. The Bulldogs stand at 14-12 overall and at 6-10 inside the conference.

“Down the stretch we were able to hit some big shots,” Limback said. “I felt like Chuol (Biel)’s put back was huge in the last few minutes. Defensively we played pretty well on the first shot throughout the game. Dordt started to get it going there and cut into our lead. I’m so proud of the guys.”

It is undeniable. Sloup has become one of the GPAC’s most exciting offensive playmakers who features an array of moves that allows him to be effective even when up against much taller opponents. Sloup dug his team out of the early deficit by going on a personal 7-0 run. He later struck for a pair of 3-point field goals in the closing four minutes as the Defenders (15-10, 7-8 GPAC) tried to rally back. Sloup finished with a game high 22 points.

While Concordia needed Sloup’s offense on one end, it needed to play solid defensively on the other. Biel blocked two shots and altered several others in limiting Dordt to 44.3 percent shooting (31-for-70). The Defenders were also plagued by an Applebee’s special – 2-for-20 – from 3-point range. Even a 21-point outing from Alec Henrickson wasn’t enough to get the job done for a squad that had entered play with a solid 7-5 road mark.

The defensive results were a far cry from what transpired in the meeting in Sioux Center, Iowa, back on Jan. 2. Dordt shot 60 percent from the floor that day. The Defenders had been held to 69 points or less only three times previously this season.

Concordia finds itself in a spot that would have seemed unlikely when it sat at 1-9 in the GPAC earlier this month. The Bulldogs now seem capable of knocking off just about anyone who comes to Walz.

“It’s just us coming out as a team. We’re really mending and blending everything together right now,” said sophomore Ryan Holt. “It starts at practice. We’re working hard in practice and coming ready to play.”

Holt put up 10 points in 13 minutes of playing time off the bench. Justin Wiersema (13 points, five rebounds) joined Holt and Sloup in double figures in the scoring column. Biel put up six points and six rebounds. The aforementioned standouts helped pick up the slack on an evening when Tanner Shuck went 1-for-11 from the floor and netted three points.

There were just a combined eight free throws attempted in a game that saw a grand total of 16 fouls called. It made for a snappy contest that ended in less than an hour-and-a-half real time. It concluded with Dordt’s Garrett Franken misfiring on a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

The Bulldogs will now attempt to avenge a home loss earlier this season to Northwestern (14-10, 8-7 GPAC) when Saturday’s contest unfolds in Orange City, Iowa. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CST from the Bultman Center. The Red Raiders will have been idle since suffering a 72-49 defeat at Doane on Jan. 26.

“We have to keep going. We can’t let up,” Limback said. “There are so many things we can improve on, but these guys bring it every day in practice and have the desire to do better. We’ll keep growing.”

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