SEWARD, Neb. – Even head coach Ben Limback wasn’t exactly sure what it would look like in game No. 1 of the 2018-19 season. Familiar faces Tanner Shuck and Brevin Sloup helped carry the Concordia University men’s basketball team offensively while the energy brought by a host of newcomers proved refreshing. It all added up to a 70-59 victory over Kansas Wesleyan University inside Walz Arena on Monday night (Oct. 29).
This marks the second season in a row that the Bulldogs have opened up with a win over the Coyotes of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Four of the eight players used by Limback made their debuts in Concordia navy and white.
“You don’t know what to expect that first game out,” Limback said. “I really was impressed and pleased with our guys and their stick-to-it-ive-ness. We weren’t pretty at times and certainly turned the ball over way too many times in this game. A lot of that is just jelling and figuring things out, but I’m really proud. Tanner Wubbels gave us some great minutes off the bench and Brevin hit some big shots and big free throws there.”
The season opener was tight throughout the evening until the Bulldogs found some breathing room late in the second half. Up 53-51 with seven minutes remaining, Concordia went on an 8-0 spurt initiated by a Sloup trey and finished by a Shuck three-point play. That duo combined to drop 22 points in the second half that saw the Bulldogs begin to put things together offensively.
Sloup knocked in four free throws in the final 1:28 and McCook Community College transfer Chuol Biel punctuated the win with a one-handed throw down in the final minute. It was an encouraging opener for a Concordia team picked 10th in the GPAC preseason poll.
“It was pretty sloppy, we had a lot of turnovers and gave up some offensive rebounds,” Sloup said. “But I think the thing that won us the game was just our effort. I think we truly outworked the other team tonight and got it done … “If you give me guys that play hard like that, I’ll go out to battle with them every single night.”
Sloup and company were able to overcome 19 turnovers and 18 offensive rebounds for Kansas Wesleyan by digging in defensively. The Bulldogs limited standout Coyote post player Jordan McNelly to eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. As a team, Kansas Wesleyan shot only 35.3 percent (24-for-68) compared to 52.1 percent (25-for-48) shooting by Concordia.
Now play a leading role, Sloup dropped in a team high 19 points on 5-for-12 shooting (6-for-6 from the free throw line). He added five assists and four rebounds. Shuck backed him up with 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals.
In his first action as a Bulldog, Zach Auguste (nine points, nine rebounds) just missed a double-double. Biel, Carter Kent and Wubbels (seven points, four rebounds) also made their first appearances for Concordia. Off the bench, Grant Wragge contributed seven points, six rebounds and three steals.
“Overall I was more pleased with the second half,” Limback said. “We got to the bonus first and were a little more aggressive. Any time you can come away with a win and learn a lot of great lessons it’s beneficial.”
Darius Hammond of Kansas Wesleyan led all players with 21 points (8-for-16 from the floor). James Brooks put up 10 points but was just 4-for-14 on field goal attempts.
The home swing to begin the season will continue this weekend when the 19th annual Cattle Classic unfolds inside Walz Arena. In Friday’s action, the Bulldogs will take on No. 25 St. Thomas University (Fla.) at 8 p.m. CT. The Cattle Classic raises money and food for the Blue Valley Community Action’s Food Pantry. For more details on the event, click HERE.