It was a tale of two halves for the Gustavus men’s basketball team Monday night on Gus Young Court, as the Gusties suffered a disappointing 96-88 overtime loss to Saint John’s. After Gustavus cruised to a 47-24 lead at halftime, Saint John’s came out on fire in the second half, capping off a 50-point frame with a buzzer-beating three pointer to send the game to OT tied 74-74. The Johnnies kept a firm grasp on the momentum in the overtime session, going 4-for-6 from the field and 12-for-13 at the free throw line on their way to the win.
With the loss, the Gusties fall to fifth place in the conference standings and are now 12-11 overall and 10-8 in the MIAC. Saint John’s positions itself for a strong push at a playoff spot with the victory, sitting in sixth place at 13-10 overall and 9-9 in the MIAC.
Despite turning the ball over on its first two possessions of the game, Gustavus scored on seven of its next eight possessions to take a 15-6 lead five minutes into the game. The Johnnies would cut the lead to five points (19-14) at the 11:54 mark, but Gustavus built a double-digit lead (24-14) three minutes later.
The Gusties used a 19-5 run to close the half and led 47-24 at the break. The Gusties went 8-for-15 from the field and 3-for-5 from three point range within the run, while Saint John’s ceased to hit a field goal in the final 11:54 of the half.
Gustavus outshot Saint John’s 57.1 to 27.3-percent in the opening half. Phil Wirtjes and Seth Anderson led all scorers with 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Gusties outrebounded the Johnnies 25-to-10, scoring 13-second-chance-points in the frame.
The Gusties didn’t miss a stride at the start of the second half, as a jumper by Seth Anderson at the 18:47 point gave them their largest lead of the game at 51-26. Saint John’s, however scored on 10 of its next 14 possessions, cutting the lead to single-digits at 58-50 (9:56) after a 14-7 run.
The Johnnies would narrow the gap to 66-62 at 6:18 on a pair of free throws by Aaron Burtzel. The Gusties would respond by building their advantage back up to 10 points (74-64) at the 3:12 mark on a jumper by Anderson. The made basket would be Gustavus’ last points of the half, as the Gusties went 0-1 from the field with three turnovers in the final three minutes of regulation play.
Following a 7-0 run, the Johnnies got the ball trailing by three (74-71) with 15 seconds remaining and a chance to tie the game. Johnnie guard Andy Burns hit the game-tying three with no time remaining after creating separation and giving himself an open look at the left wing.
Aaron Burtzel exploded for 20 points in the second half, going 7-for-10 from the field and 6-for-8 at the line. Hujdurovic and Burns both added 10 points, as the Johnnies scored 50 points in the second 20 minutes. The Gusties were led by Seth Anderson with 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Saint John’s shot a white-hot 69.2-percent in the half, while Gustavus shot 50 percent.
After taking an 82-76 lead with 2:45 left in the extra session, the Johnnies put to rest any comeback threat by going 12-for-13 at the free throw line the rest of the way. Andy Burns scored 10 points in the overtime, finishing the game with 22 points. Gustavus was outscored 72-41 in the final 25 minutes of the game.
The Gusties finished the game 38-for-72 (52.8%) from the field, 7-for-19 (36.8%) from three point range, and 5-for-13 (38.5%) at the line. Anderson went for 30 points for the second straight game, recording a team-high 30 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Wirtjes added 21 points, while Schmidtknecht and Johnson both scored 10.
Burtzel led all scorers with a game-high 32 points, going 9-for-12 from the field and 14-for-18 at the charity stripe. Saint John’s was 28-for-54 (51.9%) from the field, 8-for-20 (40%) from three, and 32-for-40 (80%) at the line.
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will look to put an end to its current five-game losing-streak Wednesday, Feb. 16 on the road at Augsburg. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. from Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.