SIOUX CITY | On a day in which Briar Cliff honored Ron Schultz for 40 years of service, the Chargers made their longtime assistant coach proud, handling Northwestern 98-83 in a GPAC men’s contest at the Flanagan Center.
Fourth-ranked Briar Cliff flourished in front of a large crowd that gathered to pay tribute to Schultz, who played four seasons and has been an assistant coach for 36 more.
“I want to say how awesome it was to have this day for Coach Schultz,” first-year Briar Cliff head coach Mark Svagera said. “To say it was deserving would be the understatement of the century by me. We talked to the guys before the game about the way to honor Coach Schultz is to play with the passion he’s given for 40 years for the next 40 minutes. I thought our guys did that from the tip to the final buzzer.”
BCU’s three-headed monster that is its back court – Jay Wolfe, Erich Erdman and Jackson Lamb – performed at a high level. And, when that happens, things usually go the Chargers’ way.
Wolfe (26), Erdman (18) and Lamb (17) combined for 61 points as Briar Cliff stayed tied with Morningside for first place in the GPAC standings. Josh Belling contributed a career-high 15 points off the bench, draining 4 of 7 3-pointers.
“Jay Wolfe really set the tone for us, he got some easy ones to the basket which really opens up for everyone else,” Svagera said. “Erich then got it going a little bit going to the basket and Jackson hit a handful of threes in the second half that sparked a run that took the lead into the 20s for a while.
“Something that’s been huge for us all year has been our bench and it’s a different guy every night it seems like. Tonight it was Belling and that’s so big to get those contributions.”
Nathan Wedel, the No. 2 scorer in the GPAC, scored 23 points and Derek Buysse came off the bench for 15, but the Chargers limited Colton Kooima, the league’s leading scorer with a 23-point average, to just seven points.
Kooima scored his team’s first five points of the game but had only two after that. He was saddled with three fouls in the first half, then left for a while after taking a nasty spill, but later returned.
Briar Cliff took command at about the midway point of the first half, stretching an eight-point lead to 17 with a an 11-2 run. The Chargers led 53-38 at halftime and shortly after Kooima went down at the 15-minute mark of the second half, went on another 11-1 spurt, bolting to a 76-55 advantage.
“We let those three get started and they got away from us a little bit and we dug too big of a hole,” Northwestern Coach Kris Korver said. “They’re a really good offensive team and we had 21 turnovers so were never really able to get our defense set up. We let them get started and it’s really difficult to slow them down when you’re turning the ball over.
“Had we not let them get away from us we were poised to make a run, but we let them get too far away.”
Wolfe had a fantastic performance, hitting 10 of 14 shots and pulling down seven rebounds while defending Kooima most of the game.
“We did a good job of moving the ball and finding each other in good spots,” said Wolfe, a 6-4 junior from Creston, Iowa. “When we all get it going we’re a pretty tough team to stop on the offensive end. It helped that we got him (Kooima) in foul trouble but he’s an explosive player and at any time could have went off. We knew we had to take away Wedel and Kooima so it helped that we could shut Kooima down a little bit.”
The two-time defending GPAC champs (20-3, 9-2) bounced back from a 92-76 loss at Hastings Wednesday that snapped an eight-game win streak.
No. 10 Northwestern (17-4 7-4), meanwhile, lost for the second straight game after reeling off eight wins in a row. Hastings beat the Red Raiders 106-94 in their last outing a week ago.