Photo description: Freshman Jaxon Stueve runs to get the ball.
Photo credit: Courtney Wright (photo from previous game)
The Concordia Bulldogs Men’s basketball team (16-5, 9-4) completed the second half comeback 99-88 on the road against the No. 19 Morningside Mustangs (14-6, 9-4) as shots began to fall.
In their first action since defending their title in the Concordia Invitational Tournament, the Bulldogs re-opened Conference play looking to get their win streak to five against a ranked opponent. It would be a hot start for both teams, with each over 60 percent from the field. The Bulldogs would later hold the Mustangs to 44 percent in the second half and get 15 free throws compared to only two.
The officiating ended up being the turning point in the game. When the Mustangs were able to pull away to a 10-point lead, a foul was called against them, leading to an assistant coach getting a technical. After trading baskets, the Bulldogs were able to string a few buckets together, including back-to-back threes from freshman Hayden Frank to tie the game. For the game, the Bulldogs shot 23 free throws compared to only four for the Mustangs. The crowd made sure to let the referees know how they felt during the game.
On offense, junior Tristian Smith would come out aggressive, scoring 17 points in the first half on six to seven shooting, including three to three from deep. Unfortunately, Smith suffered an ankle injury early in the second half, finishing with 19 in total. Junior Noah Schutte would take over in the second half, with 14 of his 21 coming in the period. Frank (17) and Junior Bradley Bennett (16) would also finish in double digits for the Bulldogs. As a team they finished with 15 assists, while the bench outscored the Mustangs 37 to 12. The Bulldogs finished shooting, 58.6 percent from the field including 11-26 (42.3 percent) from three.
On defense, the Bulldogs looked disinterested to start. In the first half, Coach Ben Limback deployed man for most of the time, but Morningside big men were able to score in the paint. In response, Limback played a zone for the majority of the second half. The zone was effective, forcing 12 turnovers in the period. The Bulldogs would finish with seven steals and win the rebound battle 29 to 27.
The Bulldogs will now get ready to play Northwestern College (17-4, 10-3), who lead the conference in the standings after defeating Hastings College 79-71 in their last game. Forward Alex Van Kalsbeek leads the team with 20.7 points, while Guard Kaleb Booth is leading the GPAC in three-point percentage (49.2). The game will take place in Friedrich Arena on Saturday, Feb. 3.