With both teams looking to replace seven combined starters, the 2017-18 season opener for Concordia and Kansas Wesleyan was a tossup.
The Bulldogs were just a bit tougher.
Concordia rallied after trailing by 10 points to sink the Coyotes 75-72 at Mabee Arena Monday night.
In 2016-17, Concordia was the best shooting team in the NAIA, making 53 percent on its shots on average. To start the game, the Bulldogs were cold, making just 12-of-32 shots. Kansas Wesleyan was a tad bit better, but led by just two at the break 30-28.
The Coyotes broke the game up with a 6-0 spurt to open the second half, grabbing a 36-28 advantage. The largest lead of the game by either school went to nine moments after an alley-oop dunk by junior Ernest Carter.
KWU didn’t stop there. Wesleyan ballooned the margin to 10 at the 8:54 mark of the second half.
Concordia quickly altered the gameplan and attacked the Coyotes, putting them in the bonus. The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 66-64 late in the game before they grabbed a one-point lead following a 35-foot heave at the buzzer by Chris Johnstone. Brevin Sloop’s lone bucket was a triple to make it a four-point game, allowing Concordia to hang on for the win.
Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers led the charge for CU. Hornick was 8-of-12 from the field for 23 points while Reimers added 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Kansas Wesleyan sophomore Jordan McNelly had quite the return to Salina. The former Salina Central Mustang racked up 25 points and eight rebounds. Juniors Rashun Allen and Ernest Carter chipped in nine each.
Wesleyan (0-1) travels to McPherson, Kan. to take on Central Christian on Thursday.