The Gustavus men’s basketball team opened up a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never looked back on its way to a convincing 82-71 win at Concordia on Saturday afternoon. Phil Wirtjes and James Hill were the difference for the Gusties as Hill tallied a game-high 23 points, while Wirtjes contributed 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Gustavus improves to 12-6 overall and 10-3 in the MIAC.
The two teams battled evenly through the first seven minutes of the contest and Gustavus held a slim 18-15 lead at the 13:04 mark, however the Gusties used a 10-0 run over the next two-and-a-half minutes to take a 13-point lead that they would not ever relinquish. A 7-2 run over the final three minutes of the first half allowed the Gusties to take a 15-point lead (45-30) into the locker room at halftime. Gustavus shot a blistering 61.3 percent (19-31) in the first 20 minutes including 75.0 percent from behind the arc (6-8). Seth Anderson and Hill led the way with 11 points each.
The Gusties continued their strong play in the second half never allowing the Cobbers closer than nine points. Coach Mark Hanson’s squad built its lead to as many as 16 points three different times in the final 20 minutes of play. Gustavus continued to shoot well in the second half converting 56.5 percent of their shots from the field (13-23). The Gusties, after making 1-of-1 from the charity stripe in the first half, converted 10-of-16 attempts in the second half. Wirtjes scored 13 of his 20 in the final half, while Hill added 12 more to push his final total to 23. Seth Anderson was the only other Gustavus player to finish in double figures with 12.
With the Gustavus win and Carleton’s loss to Augsburg, the Gusties pull back into a second place tie in the MIAC standings with a 10-3 record. Gustavus, which is in the midst of playing 5-of-6 games on the road, will get a brief break with a home game on Monday night against Macalester. The conference contest against the Scots will serve as a benefit for the St. Peter Food Shelf. The Gustavus Athletics Department will offer free admission to anyone bringing a non-perishable food item to the game. All items collected at the game will be donated to the St. Peter Food Shelf.