Bulldogs make their shot. Photo courtesy of Lyric Allen.
By Elisha Meyer
Concordia University completed its second straight comeback win Wednesday night, overlooking an early 12-point deficit in the second half to come out on top against the Northwestern College Red Raiders 74-63 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Quarterfinals.
Concordia brought a four-game winning streak into the contest as well as a 2-0 record against the visiting Red Raiders. Only one of those six games ended in a double digit deficit, when the Bulldogs first beat the No. 19 Red Raiders 88-65.
Neither team could gain an advantage in the first half, which ended with a score of 32-31 in favor of the Red Raiders. Concordia demonstrated their range early to take a 17-10 lead, but it was quickly diminished by offensive and defensive struggles.
Northwestern fed off an early spark in the second half, putting together an 11-0 run en route to a 12-point lead in less than five minutes. A timeout by Bulldogs Coach Ben Limback gave the Bulldogs a chance to regroup and strategize. Limback said the message he gave his players was to simply settle down.
“It felt like we were nervous,” Limback said. “We all knew this was a big game, and we just said relax and play some team basketball. We just tried to be too much on our own.”
Concordia regrouped and then some, tying the game at 49 apiece in the ensuing minutes. Northwestern kept the game close, but the Bulldogs pulled away to a double digit lead of their own.
Sophomore Carter Kent put a dagger in the game with a 3-point shot at the two minute mark, sending the crowd into a frenzy and ensuring that Concordia would come out on top. Kent finished with 15 points on the night, but was only the third-highest scoring Bulldog. Senior Brevin Sloup continued his hot streak by totaling 16 points on the night, and leading the scoring for the Bulldogs was sophomore Justin Wiersema, who kept the Red Raiders in check with 10 points in the first half and finished the game with 22 points. Limback made sure to give Wiersema a little extra credit in recapping how he felt about the team’s performance.
“We didn’t, offensively, weren’t at our best at times, but I feel like this team continues to grind and get stops,” Limback said. “Defense was outstanding tonight, their two guards, but I can’t say enough about the performance from Wiersema.”
Northwestern College will have to wait for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s Basketball Selection Show to see if its season will live on in March.
Concordia fans had more reason to cheer for after the game. Not long after the Bulldogs moved on in the GPAC tournament, the Hastings College Broncos pulled off an upset over No. 2 Morningside College Wednesday night 84-80. This means another home basketball game, which will be played at Walz Arena this Saturday along with the girls’ game. Gametime is set for 4 p.m.