The Briar Cliff men’s basketball team fought tooth-and-nail to dig themselves out of a second-half hole at the Newman Flanagan Center Wednesday night but ultimately fell 86-84 to Dordt in the opening round of the GPAC tournament.
The final minute of the game featured three ties and four lead changes and came out in favor of the Defenders. Senior Jay Wolfe put up a shot as time expired but it did not fall.
“I’m proud of the way our guys battled back after finding themselves in a hole in the second half,” said head coach Mark Svagera. “We made some big plays down the stretch.”
Jackson Lamb led the Chargers early in the game, hitting seven 3-point baskets in the first half and scoring 21 of the team’s first 26 points. The Cliff led by as many as 11 points in the first 20 minutes and went into halftime with a 38-33 lead.
The Defenders went on an 8-2 run to start the second half to take a 41-40 lead with 17:53 on the clock. Dordt stayed hot over the next few minutes, extending its lead to as many as 11 points. The Chargers clawed their way back and took the lead at the 2:36 mark with a 3-point basket by Wolfe.
Dordt’s Zach Bussard hit a 2-point shot and earned the extra free throw with a BC foul, which he made to put the Defenders back up by two. The same scenario happened on the other end one minute later when Wolfe earned the and-one and sank his free throw to take a one-point lead with 57 seconds remaining.
Bussard hit a pair of free throws on the next possession for Dordt, then Wolfe gave the Cliff its final lead of the game with 27 seconds on the clock. Dordt made three of four free throws in the last 16 seconds for the two-point win.
After pouring in a career-best 30 points at Dordt last week, Lamb surpassed that mark with 33 points on the night to lead all players. He posted a double-double, by matching his career-high in rebounds with 11. He also forced four steals and added three steals and two blocks. Wolfe put up 26 points and dished out seven assists.
Bussard scored a team-high 30 points for the Defenders, going 10-for-13 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Jesse Jansma added 21 points, six assists and three steals.
The Cliff shot 44.9% from the floor and 38.1% from beyond the arc. The team sank 7-of-8 free throw attempts (84.2%). Dordt put up similar stats, shooting 43.7% from the field, 38.1% from the 3-point line and 87.5% from the charity stripe.
“This group has battled all year and been resilient when facing adversity and losses,” Svagera added. “I expect that to continue as we prepare over the next couple over weeks.”
Briar Cliff will not automatically punch a ticket to the NAIA National Tournament but expect to receive an at-large bid. The brackets will be released next week.
Briar Cliff picked up a few key victories late in the regular season to make the GPAC women’s basketball tournament, but the Chargers season ended in the first round of the conference playoff with an 80-55 loss to #1 Concordia Wednesday night in Seward, Neb.
The Blue and Gold knew a run in the GPAC tournament was necessary to extend the season and battled in the opening quarter with the Bulldogs as the stanza saw three ties and six lead changes. Unfortunately, the home team gained momentum late with a 9-2 run in the final two minutes to head into the first quarter break leading 26-19 and never looked back.
“This was a tough loss,” BC head coach Mike Power said. “My heart goes out to the seniors. They are a great class and we’re going to miss them.”
Two seniors suited up for the Cliff in the contest. Taylor Wagner finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and three assists. Taylor Vasa scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals.
The top point scorer for Briar Cliff in the game was Madelyn Deitchler with 14. She was also one of four players to tie for the team high in rebounds at six. Aside from Deitchler and Wagner the other Cliff players to grab six boards were Mya Hendry and Logan Ehlers. Ehlers was third on the scoring chart for BC in the loss at nine points.
Three Concordia players reached double figures in points with Quinn Wragge leading all players with 19. Philly Lammers finished with a double-double as she hauled in 10 rebounds to go along with her 18 points. Grace Barry chipped in 11 points while also leading all players in assists and steals with eight and five, respectively.
Briar Cliff shot better from the field in the game, hitting 19-of-47 shots for 40.4%, but the Cliff made just two three pointers and turned the ball over 33 times. The Bulldogs shot 37.2% from the field and 23.1% from 3-point range, but they made nine from beyond the arc and took a little better care of the basketball with 20 turnovers.
Concordia took advantage with the turnover discrepancy by outscoring the Cliff in points off of turnovers, 32-15. The Bulldogs also had an edge in second chance points by a 21-14 margin. Concordia had 41 total rebounds with 25 of those happening while on offense. Briar Cliff had 40 rebounds, 14 on the offensive side of the court.
Briar Cliff ends the season with a 15-16 record. Concordia advances to the GPAC semifinals with a 28-3 record as the Bulldogs will host Hastings on Saturday.