SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s basketball team traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday (Feb. 20) knowing it had little margin for error if it was going to shock second-ranked Morningside in the quarterfinal round of the GPAC tournament. The Bulldogs started out 8-for-13 from 3-point range and held a lead late in the first half before eventually running out of gas. The Mustangs pulled away for a 97-74 win inside the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center.
The result means sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ends the 2018-19 season with a 15-16 overall record. After a rough 1-9 start to the league schedule, Concordia recovered in time to qualify for the conference tournament.
“Our theme this year was to grow and try to get better,” Limback said. “We certainly did that in moments. I just want our guys to know that you can’t settle for where we’re at. We have to take it to a whole new level. From where we were midpoint of the conference, we had to reset our goals. I felt like guys bought into that and there was significant growth during that period.”
That growth showed in the confidence that allowed the Bulldogs to roar out of the gates believing they could hang with GPAC regular season champion Morningside (26-2). Two new pieces to the team this season in transfer Sammy Adjei and freshman Carter Kent did major damage on the offensive end. Kent stroked four treys and put up a team high-tying 18 points to cap off a fine rookie season. Meanwhile, Adjei made all seven of his tries from the floor and notched 18 points before fouling out in 16 minutes of action.
Concordia pushed the Mustangs hard enough that they barely bothered to go very deep into the bench until the latter stages of the game. Every Morningside starter reached double figures with Tyler Borchers, Brody Egger and Matt Hahn netting 20 points apiece. The Bulldogs could not get nearly enough stops down the stretch to keep pace. The Mustangs shot 60 percent (39-for-65) for the game. They were an otherworldly 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half.
With a positive offseason of development, Concordia can certainly make a leap forward in 2019-20. The most experienced players on the roster this season were juniors Tanner Shuck and Brevin Sloup. The Seward High School product Sloup became a dependable offensive playmaker in his first season as a starter. He chipped in with 13 points, four assists and four rebounds on Wednesday.
Sloup and company had their moments this winter. The one that stands out most was the 102-92 upset of then seventh-ranked Briar Cliff on Jan. 12. Sloup poured in a career high 33 points in that memorable victory. With Shuck and Sloup and this season’s newcomers back in the mix, there are reasons for optimism moving forward.
Said Limback, “We talked about it after the game. This has to be a great offseason. It has to be an offseason of development. We want to raise the expectations. We certainly don’t want to be on the road next year in the GPAC tournament and put ourselves in this type of situation again.”