SEWARD — Don’t dream it’s over, because it’s not.
Hastings College’s perfect season is no more, but the dream is still very much alive.
The second-ranked Broncos, which haven’t won in Walz Arena on the campus of Concordia University since 2013, were ultimately doomed by poor shooting and lost 53-46 Wednesday night.
Hastings hit just three of its first 12 shots. Five of the Broncos’ 13 makes in the game came in the opening 10 minutes. They shot an abysmal 21 percent from the floor.
HC head coach Jina Douglas couldn’t escape the reality of her team’s shooting struggles in her post game interview, just like her team couldn’t free itself of Concordia’s defense.
“You can’t play a really good team and shoot 21 percent and think you’re going to win,” she said with a laugh. “You’ve got to credit Concordia, they had a good game plan and tried to slow us down.”
Concordia head coach Drew Olson joked that he thought he’d been given halftime stats after the contest concluded.
The Bulldogs and Broncos finished well below their averages of 92 and 79 points per game, respectively.
“That’s two really good defensive teams and that’s why it was such a grind and a low-scoring game,” Olson said. “To me, that’s just tough basketball. We just made more plays to win it.”
Concordia suffocated Hastings on the defensive end, especially in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs were right in the face of Bronco ball handlers and trapped when they could.
“Right when we got across half court they tried to bottle us up that way. And it took us a while to figure it out,” Douglas said. “I thought we did a good job of not turning it over, but we also didn’t get a lot of straight looks against (their defense).
“We kind of had a deer-in-the-headlight look in the first half.”
Despite shooting 6-for-28 in the first 20 minutes, Hastings was, surprisingly, not out of it. Concordia controlled the pace all night, but after leading by as much as 15 in the first half, the game was far from a runaway.
Trailing by 12 at the break felt like a small victory. And the Broncos climbed right back into contention with its best run of the night out of the break.
“It’s hard to play hard when you don’t make shots,” Douglas said. “For us to continue to do that, said a lot about us. I just wish we had a little bit better of a start.”
HC began the third quarter on a 10-3 run to cut the lead to five. Kaitlyn Schmit opened the frame with a 3-pointer to cap a Bronco possession that included a pair of offensive rebounds.
But Concordia’s leading scorer Philly Lammers, who scored 10 of her game-high 19 in the second half, was too much down the stretch. Her aggressiveness got Hastings’ best post, Gabby Grasso, in foul trouble.
Grasso was initially forced to back off before fouling out with 3:50 left to play.
“She’s a great player and she works hard, so having her out of the picture was definitely something that helped us out,” Lammers said.
Lammers scored Concordia’s final two field goals on back-to-back possessions. They were mostly uncontested.
Hastings missed three breakaway layups, including a “pick-six” on a Concordia inbounds play with 30 seconds left that could’ve made it a six-point game.
“We just missed a lot of shots,” Douglas said.
Emma Grenfell paced Hastings with 12 points. Schmit had nine.
Hastings was just as good defensively most of the night. But third-ranked Concordia shot 46 percent for the game.
The Broncos turned the Bulldogs over 24 times, and scored 18 points off of those.
Grace Barry added 17 points for the Bulldogs in a win that puts them in a tie with Hastings atop the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Olson didn’t entirely give at the idea it was a must-win, only a big game.
“We’ve won conference championships before and we knew that if we were going to win another, we’d have to win tonight,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and three games to go. We’re not settling.”
Hastings is in the same boat; the Broncos just have a slightly more challenging remaining slate with No. 9 Dordt Saturday, before hosting last-place Doane and No. 13 Dakota Wesleyan next week.
The Bulldogs will finish the regular season with the eighth-, ninth-, and 10th-place teams in the conference.
“I think going into the year if you would’ve told us we could have a share of a GPAC title, we all would be pretty happy with that,” Douglas said. “To get this far, to 26-1, we can’t dwell on this loss. We’ve got three big GPAC games (left), we’ve got the GPAC tournament. Anything can happen.”
Concordia 83, Hastings 77
The Hastings College men were their own worst enemy Wednesday night in Seward.
The Broncos were knotted at 73 with Concordia with under 2 minutes. But a pair of second chances resulted in a six-point lead for the Bulldogs, and the eventual win.
After Concordia’s Carter Kent fired a long 3-pointer to evade an expiring shot clock, HC’s Bart Hiscock tapped the ball out of the paint, but it was picked up by Brevin Sloup, who proceeded to connect on a triple.
On the ensuing Concordia possession, Hastings again failed to rebound the ball and Kent drained a 3 from the corner.
The Bulldogs finished it off with free throws.
Sloup scored a game-high 25 for Concordia, which had five double-digit scorers.
Hiscoock poured in 22 for Hastings and hauled in 10 rebounds. Brendan Lipovsky added 12, Mason Hiemstra had 13, and Logan Cale chipped in 11. Shane Chamberlain contributed eight points, Ryan Ierna scored six, and Karson Gansebom finished with five.
Lipovsky also dished out four assists for Hastings, which shot 47 percent.from the field and from beyond the arc.