JAMESTOWN, N.D. – This one won’t soon be forgotten. With a home game in the opening round of the GPAC tournament on the line, the Concordia University men’s basketball team erased an 18-point second-half deficit and dominated the overtime session on Saturday (Feb. 22) afternoon. The Bulldogs spoiled Jamestown’s home finale in what amounted to a 101-92 victory for the visitors.
Head coach Ben Limback’s squad concludes the regular season at 21-9 overall (12-8 GPAC). For the seniors, this meant a lot. Concordia has earned at least one more opportunity to play at Walz Arena.
“It was just extreme joy,” Limback said of the postgame locker room. “Our guys were overwhelmed with excitement. To see our guys enjoy it like that after they’ve worked so hard is so rewarding. They’ve overcome so much. You could see it with the parents who traveled – everybody was so thrilled. This game was truly one we’ll never forget.”
The way this game turned on its head makes it especially memorable. There were points when it looked like it just wasn’t Concordia’s day. In his final game at home, Jimmie senior Terrell Alfred went off for 28 points while netting eight treys. Another senior in Isaiah Dobson added 24 points and seven assists. When Jack Frazier nailed a trey with 16:01 left in the game, Jamestown (18-12, 9-11 GPAC) led 58-40. It seemed the Jimmie seniors were about to head out on a high.
Not so fast. The Bulldogs followed with a 10-0 run that made Jamestown begin to have doubts. With Concordia’s offense clicking to the tune of 57.6 percent shooting in the second half, the final minutes became a pulse pounder. Big shot maker Brevin Sloup piled up the points and was aided by a host of teammates in putting the Bulldogs up 90-87 in the closing seconds of regulation. Alfred had one more trick up his sleeve with a trey that forced overtime.
That was a last gasp for Jamestown. Concordia ended OT on an 11-0 run that was initiated by five-straight points from Sloup. The Mayor just wanted to play at home again. He equaled Alfred with 28 points and added eight rebounds. Ryan Holt supplied a nice punctuation on the victory with a steal and layup in the final minute of overtime.
“It starts with the mindset,” Limback said of the comeback. “We had a mentality that showed how much we wanted it. They were really good on senior day and shot very well. We were able to weather the storm. I thought Justin Wiersema was great again with how he constantly competes. We had a number of guys make big plays off the bench. Brevin and Tanner (Shuck) made huge plays. It was fun to be a part of.”
The Bulldogs finally took their first lead of the second half when Shuck buried a 3-pointer with under two minutes left in regulation. Shuck also made two crucial free throws that moved the lead to three with less than 20 seconds remaining. The senior from Grand Island, Neb., notched 16 points and moved past 1,500 for his career.
Wiersema contributed 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. In reserve roles, Sam Scarpelli chipped in 11 points and Tanner Wubbels recorded 10. Holt grabbed 11 rebounds and swiped four steals. Concordia was plus-five in rebounds and made more free throws than Jamestown attempted (29-19).
The win allowed the Bulldogs to seal up the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, which means the program will host a GPAC postseason game for the first time since 2011. Fifth-seeded Northwestern (20-10, 12-8 GPAC) will be in Seward for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff on Wednesday (Feb. 26) for the quarterfinal round.