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Home Sports Bulldogs keep in-season champion title alive in overtime thriller over Hastings

Junior guard Bradley Bennett (33) dodges an opponent to rush toward the basket, scoring more points for the Bulldogs.

Photo credit: Courtney Wright (photo from previous game) 

By Darien Semedo


The No. 21 Concordia Bulldogs (21-6, 14-5) completed a double-digit comeback over Hastings Broncos (19-8, 14-5) to leave a tie at the top of the Great Plains Athletic Conference standings, winning 69-67.

As the second half opened, the Bulldogs found themselves down by as many as 15 as their offense had no rhythm. The Bulldogs charged in the second half, finding themselves right back in the game, with Friedrich Arena hitting a fever pitch.

Junior Tristan Smith played an aggressive game himself, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds including the biggest free throws to send the game into overtime. With three seconds left in the game, Junior Noah Schutte was sent to the free throw line with the Bulldogs down three. After making the first, Smith grabbed the rebound in the second and was fouled. Smith talked about his mindset and the confidence his teammates had in him.

“I was terrified to be honest,” said Smith. “We had a moment in Hawaii where I missed one to lose a game for us, so just stepping up there I had confidence. Brad [Bennett] came up and he told me 100% percent confidence in me and that all I needed to hear to step up and knock them down when it mattered. It took a lot of practice and dedication to get me to that moment.”

Schutte would lead the Bulldogs in scoring, with 19 points on the night. He would also finish with a double-double, grabbing a game high 18 rebounds. It wasn’t a perfect night for Schutte, as he couldn’t get a foul call when driving, but when he did get to the line, he was 9-10 from the charity stripe before having to miss on purpose late.

Last time both teams met, the Bulldogs comeback came up just short, but this time Schutte credited their effort as why it went differently.

“In the second half, we just made more hustle plays than them,” said Schutte. “We got on the floor; we got some steals and Tristan’s big rebound to send it to overtime. I think our intensity and our effort took us over the edge.”

One reserve on the team stepped up big, freshman Brooks Kissinger. Kissinger was aggressive, attacking the rim leading to some layups while inspiring the offense to follow and get free throws. Kissinger would lead both benches with 14 points. Smith had high praise for the freshman, crediting him with getting easy buckets and the offense rolling.

“I think we just had guys step up in the big moments,” said Smith. “Brooks Kissinger, freshman, came off the bench and was huge for us as they didn’t have an answer for him. I think that in the second half, we started emphasizing ball movement and that was our gameplan, but we just weren’t executing in the first half.”

The Bulldogs’ zone defense would be key in limiting the Broncos offense. They would shoot 32 percent from the field, while turning the ball over 10 times, compared to 50 percent and only three turnovers in the first half. Getting the Broncos leaders in foul trouble was key in disrupting the flow of the Broncos game plan.

The Bulldogs now find themselves tied at the top of the GPAC with one more game left to go. The Bulldogs will host Midland University (10-17, 5-14) with a chance to be GPAC in-season champions and secure a high seed for the GPAC Tournament.

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