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First half surge carries Northwestern inside Walz

First half surge carries Northwestern inside Walz

SEWARD, Neb. – An 18-18 deadlock nearly midway through the first half gave way to a comfortable halftime advantage for the visitors from Northwestern in Saturday (Jan. 5)’s clash inside Walz Arena. The Concordia University men’s basketball team never recovered in what turned out to be another tough shooting outing. The Red Raiders won, 76-59.

The drought within conference play continues for sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. The Bulldogs have slumped to 8-10 overall and to 1-9 in GPAC games.

“They got hot in the first half and really beat us off the dribble,” Limback said. “We really challenged our guys in the second half to keep the ball in front and we did a better job of it. Offensively we just couldn’t make shots when we needed them. We have to put it all together. We have to play with more consistency and toughness, especially on the defensive end.”

Graduation hit Northwestern hard with the departures of stars Colton Kooima and Nathan Wedel, but it may be starting to click. The Red Raiders (11-8, 5-5 GPAC) have now won back-to-back GPAC games by double digit margins. On this particular night, Northwestern did not need the scoring exploits of Kooima. It held Concordia to 36.2 percent shooting (21-for-58) and coasted off its 28-10 run to end the first half.

The Bulldogs managed to get within single digits on a couple of occasions in the second half, but the Red Raiders responded affirmatively. After Carter Kent knifed his way into the paint for two to cut the deficit to nine (60-51) with just under 8:30 left, emerging star Trent Hilbrands followed with a three-point play. Concordia netted just two field goals the rest of the way in sputtering to the finish line.

Junior Tanner Shuck surpassed 200 3-point field goals in his career as a Bulldog. He dropped in a team high 13 points while going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Concordia would have liked him to shoot more, but Northwestern did a commendable job of limiting his opportunities. Brevin Sloup, 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting, was the only other Bulldog to reach double figures. Chuol Biel returned to the floor to add nine points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

Craig Sterk enjoyed a big night off the bench for the Red Raiders. He posted 18 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Parker Mulder (12 points and 10 rebounds) notched a double-double for the victors, who shot 57.6 percent from the floor in the first half before cooling down to 33.3 percent in the second half.

For the second GPAC outing in a row, Concordia was forced to fight back from 20 points down. Said Limback, “We can’t get down by 15 to 20 and expect to win these games in the GPAC. Tanner defensively did some better things and adjusted some things on their guard play. Offensively we needed more inside and take advantage of being in the bonus.”

The Bulldogs now look forward to their second and final meeting of the regular season with Hastings (12-6, 5-5 GPAC). The latest matchup will tip off inside Lynn Farrell Arena at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Concordia outlasted the Broncos, 92-87, in overtime in Seward on Nov. 14. The Bulldogs also swept the regular-season series from Hastings in 2017-18.

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