ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A 3-point shooting clinic to open the second half helped the Concordia University, Nebraska men’s basketball team built the cushion it needed to salvage a victory on the second day of the 68th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament. The Bulldogs absorbed a strong push from Concordia University, Chicago in Saturday (Jan. 26)’s CIT consolation game and held on for a 77-69 victory in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The response was a solid one for sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which struggled in the second half of Friday’s 86-70 loss to Concordia University, Wisconsin. CUNE will leave Michigan at 13-12 overall.
“Every day is a new day and a chance to play again,” Limback said. “It was a really good environment. We just wanted to bounce back and have a better effort. The guys responded and we got off to a pretty good start. In terms of the intensities levels, it was a good atmosphere.”
CUC (4-14) had its work cut out for it after watching the Bulldogs blister the net out of the halftime break. CUNE drilled 6-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc over a stretch of just over seven minutes to open the second half. At that point, the Bulldogs seemingly had control leading 55-33. The Cougars fell victim to CUNE’s typical top three scorers: Brevin Sloup, Tanner Shuck and Carter Kent. The torrid trio combined for 59 points.
“The ball was snapping around with a lot of different guys getting touches,” Sloup said. “When we’re shooting the ball like that a lot of guys get open looks. When we shoot like that it’s a lot of fun.”
That hot spurt was enough to fend off prolific scoring guard Mitch Pelissier, who poured in 31 points on 12-for-26 shooting from the floor. The 6-foot-3 native of Puyallup, Wash., has a way of lighting a fire under CUC fans. His exploits got a strong contingent of Cougar students rocking late in the game. A Pelissier steal and dish to Jalen Meeks in transition got CUC within five (71-66) in the final 30 seconds.
Just a few seconds later, the Bulldogs had finally slammed the door shot with the free throw shooting of Sloup and a key defensive stop. It was time to exhale after a tough afternoon in the turnover column (18-6) made life more difficult in trying to protect what had been a large lead. Fifteen Cougar offensive rebounds were also a factor in chipping away at the lead.
Sloup continues to be the team’s consistent offensive playmaker. He notched a game high 24 points in Friday’s defeat as part of a big weekend in the scoring column. He’s also the man the Bulldogs want at the free throw line with a chance to put a game away. He went 11-for-13 from the charity stripe in taking out the Cougars.
While Kent, Shuck and Sloup did much of the scoring, Sammy Adjei and Chuol Biel grabbed eight rebounds apiece. Adjei provided one of the game’s biggest highlights when he blocked a Pelissier layup off the backboard. Kent added six assists and five rebounds while Justin Wiersema hauled in seven boards.
CUC seems to have more talent than its record would indicate. Pelissier was joined in double figures by Hasson Basbous (12) and Landen Gladney, who posted 10 points and 15 rebounds. Like CUW, the Cougars are a member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division III).
It’s back to conference play now for the Bulldogs, who have just five games remaining in the regular season. They will welcome Dordt (15-9, 7-7 GPAC) to Walz Arena on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. CST tipoff. The Defenders took this season’s first meeting, 91-73, in Sioux Center, Iowa.