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.