PHOENIX, Ariz. – Three different Bulldogs left Saturday (Dec. 29)’s matinee shaken up by injuries. Instead of making excuses, junior Brevin Sloup and freshman Justin Wiersema helped carry the Concordia University men’s basketball team to a 70-64 victory over MacEwan University (Canada) as part of the Arizona Christian Holiday Classic in Phoenix, Ariz.
The win put a halt to a four-game skid for sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which moved to 8-8 overall. The Bulldogs fell by an 85-71 score to host No. 12 Arizona Christian University on Friday.
“We had a lot of adversity throughout the game,” Limback said. “We had some injuries and some foul trouble. I was really proud and pleased with our bench. I felt like our bench was ready. Chance Sterling, Klay Uher, Justin Wiersema – these guys came in and gave us a big lift when we needed it, especially in the second half.”
Sloup carried his team offensively in the opening half by draining five 3-point field goals. Wiersema then enjoyed a breakout second half. At one point during the 15-2 spurt that put Concordia in control, Wiersema went on the attack and notched eight points in a row. That run staked the Bulldogs to a 62-48 lead with less than eight minutes remaining. The Griffins (0-13) made a push in the final minutes, but never cut their deficit to fewer than six points.
Sloup’s knocked in his first five attempts from long range. He provided sorely needed offensive punch on a day when starters Sammy Adjei and Ryan Holt were hobbled by injuries. Sloup finished with a game high 24 points. He canned a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to help put it on ice.
“What Brevin did was a huge thing for our offense,” Limback said. “Sammy goes down and offensively we had been struggling. I really our defense. Our defense led to some offense in the second half. You have to find ways to score and that’s what we did in the second half.”
Junior Tanner Shuck got into the act to aid the second half run. Two of Shuck’s steals directly led to buckets for Wiersema, who turned in a career high 13 points. Still working on regaining his expert stroke, Shuck finished with 11 points. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from the foul line.
MacEwan played its first game since Dec. 1. The Griffins hung around on Saturday with the help of Jake Notice’s 15 points and Abdullah Shittu’s 13 points. They also owned a sizeable 46-26 rebound advantage with Concordia depleted in the post. However, MacEwan was unable to overcome its 30 turnovers, which were a season high for Bulldog opponents.
Adjei made his second start in a Concordia uniform but played only six minutes. Holt was limited to three minutes. The bench helped the cause by recording 28 points. Sterling and Grant Wragge saw extended action, each playing more than 20 minutes. Wragge chipped in five points and Sterling four.
The next seven contests will all be against GPAC opponents. Up next on the docket is Wednesday’s trip to Dordt (11-5, 4-4 GPAC) for a 6 p.m. CST tipoff in Sioux Center, Iowa. The Bulldogs swept last season’s pair of meetings with the Defenders. Concordia has dropped five league games in a row since its 92-87 overtime win over Hastings on Nov. 14.