SEWARD, Neb. – This did not look like the Concordia University men’s basketball team that entered the day ranked 10th in the GPAC in field goal percentage offense. The Bulldogs were crazy good early, absorbed a push from visiting Briar Cliff and then rode the ridiculously hot hand of Brevin Sloup. The seventh-ranked Chargers exited Walz Arena stunned by a 102-92 Concordia victory on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 12).
It was quite a week for sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. In Hastings on Wednesday, Tanner Shuck sank a game-winning trey in the closing seconds. For the first time this season, the Bulldogs (10-10, 3-9 GPAC) have collected back-to-back GPAC triumphs.
“Brevin Sloup was constantly hitting big shots,” Limback said. “And our offense was really aggressive. Carter Kent had big shots, too, and huge free throws down the stretch. Man, what a game.”
The trio of Kent, Shuck and Sloup was dynamic. Sloup was otherworldly during a second half stretch that spanned just over seven minutes. During which, the Seward native dropped in 18 points, often cutting unguarded to the basket. At the end of the monster splurge, Sloup canned two heat check triples while on his way to a career high 33 points. He had no notion of backing down from the reigning NAIA Division II National Player of the Week Jay Wolfe.
Sloup piloted an offense that shot 58.2 percent (32-for-55) from the field, including 58.8 percent (10-for-17) from 3-point range. Wolfe and company dug out of an early 21-4 deficit to take a second half lead. That’s where this team showed its growth. Sloup went wild, Kent had a career high of his own (26 points) and role players such as Justin Wiersema and Tanner Wubbels got Walz rocking with a three-point play apiece.
At their zenith, the Bulldogs led by 14 points. In a game that drug out over the final couple of minutes, both teams put home 15 points over the closing minute-and-a-half. Wolfe did everything he could to will his team back, tallying 32 points. The problem for Briar Cliff (15-4, 9-3 GPAC) was that Concordia couldn’t miss from anywhere on the floor. The Bulldogs made 18 of their final 20 free throw attempts and were 28-for-35 overall from the charity stripe.
The Chargers just might have nightmares about what Sloup did to them in that second half. Said Sloup, “It was a lot of fun. I just got hot and started feeling it a little bit. My teammates screened for me and they were looking for me. They were passing me the ball and the shots were going in. It seemed like everything I was throwing up was going in.”
Sloup went 13-for-23 from the floor and added five assists and three rebounds. Kent lived at the foul line, where he was 12-for-16. Shuck recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) while becoming the 30th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. Wiersema also had his finest day, putting up 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Wubbels chipped in seven points off the bench.
Among Chargers, Jackson Lamb (17), Ethan Freidel (16) and Jeff Daubanton (12) followed Wolfe in the scoring column. Briar Cliff was without a key piece from the first matchup with Concordia that resulted in an 81-64 Charger victory. Erich Erdman has been out since Dec. 5 due to injury.
The feeling inside the Concordia locker room is now a much different one as compared to a week ago. Said Limback, “I hope this continues to give us confidence. This kids are so special and it’s a great group of guys. I want this to keep going and for our guys to get better every day.”
The Bulldogs will be back inside Walz on Wednesday to welcome Midland (9-11, 4-7 GPAC) to town. Tipoff time is 8 p.m. CST from Seward. Concordia will attempt to avenge a 78-72 loss in Fremont that occurred in the GPAC opener on Nov. 6. The Warriors are 1.5 games above the Bulldogs in the GPAC standings.