Knocking nationals down: Wolves beat top-ranked college team

GPRC Wolves guard Jon Mueller in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference action against the NAIT Ooks at the GPRC gym on Saturday, Oct. 27. The Wolves picked up two wins against the 7th-ranked Concordia Thunder this weekend. Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune

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The GPRC Wolves men’s basketball team made it two-straight wins over previously undefeated Concordia Thunder after a 80-74 win on Saturday afternoon in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) hoops action in Edmonton.

On Friday night, the Wolves were the first team to hand the Thunder a loss this year, following a 89-80 win.

“[Since I’ve been here] we’ve never swept a top-team in the country,” Wolves head coach Evan Lloyd said. “It’s was a pretty solid weekend but we’ve been getting better ever since the first weekend [of the season]. It’s nice to see. It’s nice to sweep a really good team and [do it] on the road.”

In the ACAC lid-lifter weekend, the Wolves dropped an 80-75 decision to The Kings University Eagles. The Eagles haven’t won since that game in the third week of October.

Coming into the weekend, the Thunder were ranked No. 7 in the Canadian College Athletic Association national rankings.

Based on Friday night’s result alone, the second-year head coach had to know his team was going to get a Thundering response from the Edmonton-based hoops squad.

However, not quite to the extent the coach was thinking.

“I didn’t think they would score 20 points in [the opening] four minutes,” Lloyd said with a chuckle. “When it was 20-5, I put the bench guys in and they did their job [of holding us in there].

Sure enough, the Thunder led 23-5 with 4:12 left in the first quarter but the Wolves cut the deficit to 27-19 by the end of the opening 10 minutes. Slice, slice, slice – the Wolves nicked into the lead and trailed 45-40 by halftime. Game very much on.

“We hit [eight] threes in the first half, so that kept us in the game,” Lloyd said, while noting half the offence came from beyond the arc. “That’s not the way we want to play, but that will keep you in, and [help you win] games.” The visitors went 8-20 from three in the first half and 13-36 for the game.

The second half belonged to the Wolves, out-scoring the home team five by 11 points in the second half to sweep the weekend.

Logan Rempel led the team in scoring on Saturday night with 18 points. The guard shot 60 per cent from three on 10 attempts.

As Lloyd mentioned, the only serious ping on the radar was the loss to the Eagles to open the ACAC season.

Since then, Lloyd has seen the geometric progression from his team. The head coach was asked what’s been the biggest improvement since the opening series of the season.

“It’s more so the guys are buying in to what we’re trying to do,” Lloyd said. “What role each guy provides and how they can do what [they have to do] to make this team successful. And I think that showed [against the Thunder].”