Bulldogs bounced by LSU-Shreveport in conclusion to GPAC championship season

LSU-Shreveport Triumphs Over Bulldogs, Sealing GPAC Championship Victory

In Salina, Kansas, the Concordia University Men’s Basketball team faced a tough challenge right from the start of the NAIA National Championship tournament. They went up against the 12th-seeded team from Louisiana State University-Shreveport, and it was clear this game would not be easy. In a thrilling match at Mabee Arena, the Pilots of LSU-Shreveport emerged victorious with a score of 91-67, moving past the Bulldogs in the second round of the national tournament on Saturday, March 16. The Pilots showcased their skills by hitting an impressive 60.3 percent of their shots from the field.

Coach Ben Limback’s team had made it to the second round after narrowly defeating the No. 13 seed, Indiana University Northwest, with a score of 83-81 on Friday. Despite ending the season with a record of 24-8, Concordia was just one victory away from advancing to Kansas City. Coach Limback reflected on the game, noting the team’s struggle to counter the Pilots’ momentum, which they had carried over from their previous game. The Pilots’ exceptional performance in the first half put the Bulldogs at a significant disadvantage, making a comeback in the second half nearly impossible.

From the beginning, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing. They were unable to take the lead at any point during the game and faced a substantial deficit within the first four minutes. LSU-Shreveport, with a matching season record of 24-8, managed to find and make shots with ease, with five of their players scoring in double digits. Tyler Washington stood out as the game’s top scorer with 19 points. The Pilots had already shown their strength the day before by defeating Kansas Wesleyan University in overtime, and a 7-0 run before halftime further solidified their lead, making it 55-34.

Joel Baker, coming off the bench for the Bulldogs, had an outstanding performance, scoring a career-high 16 points, including four successful three-point shots. Brad Bennett and other teammates also contributed significantly, with Bennett scoring 13 points. Noah Schutte and Tristan Smith were among other Bulldogs who scored in double digits. Schutte made history by becoming the first player from Concordia to score 30 points in a national tournament game, achieving 31 points in the victory over Indiana University Northwest.

However, the Bulldogs’ shooting efficiency of 39.0 percent (23-for-59) was not enough to match LSU-Shreveport’s performance. Despite the loss, the team looks back on the 2023-24 season with pride, having achieved a No. 20 NAIA national ranking, a share of the GPAC regular-season title, a CIT championship, and a total of 24 wins. Coach Limback emphasized the importance of moving past the loss and focusing on the season’s achievements, particularly praising the seniors for their leadership and commitment.

LSU-Shreveport also dominated in rebounds, with a 36-25 advantage, marking their 19th appearance in the national tournament. Concordia took the opportunity to honor seniors Baker, Schutte, and Trey Scheef on senior day. Schutte, one of the top five scorers in the program’s history, is considering returning for a fifth year in the 2024-25 season. With the return of experienced players like Bennett and Smith, along with the development of younger players, the Bulldogs are optimistic about their chances in future national tournaments.