The Gustavus men’s baskeball team saw its 18-game winning streak come to an end Thursday night in a 70-56 loss to Lawrence University of Appleton, Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament in St. Peter. Doug Espenson led the Gusties with 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Phil Sowden added 14 points and five rebounds. Chris Braier led the Vikings with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Kyle MacGillis added 14 points. Gustavus ends its season with an overall record of 22-6, while Lawrence improves to 20-5 and will travel to the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Saturday at 7 p.m. to play in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Gustavus jumped out to a 5-0 lead with 17:48 to play in the first half. The Vikings replied with an 11-6 run to even the score at 11-11 with 11:40 to play. The Gusties trailed by only one point 19-18 with 5:11 left before the Vikings went on a 15-4 run in the final 4:41 to lead by their largest margin of the first half 34-22 heading into the lockerroom. The Vikings were 3-3 from the three-point line and 5-7 from the field during their 15-4 run, and Lawrence out-shot Gustavus 52.2 percent (12-23) to 33.3 percent (8-24) in the first half.
The Gusties, who have only trailed at halftime during three of their last 19 games, surrendered a 6-2 Lawrence run in the first two minutes of the second half to trail by 16 points 40-24. The Vikings maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half and led by 18 points with 5:01 to play at 55-37. The Gusties trailed by a game-high 19 points 58-39 with 3:35 to play. However, Gustavus mounted a comeback cutting the lead to 10 points at 64-54 with :54 seconds to play. Lawrence finished the remainder of regulation on a 6-2 run to defeat the Gusties 70-56 for Gustavus’ first loss since January 3.
Gustavus shot 40.4 percent (23-57) from the field, 40 percent (6-15) from the three-point line, and 50 percent (4-8) from the free throw line. Lawrence shot 51.2 percent (21-41) from the field, an impressive 50 percent (7-14) from behind the arc, and 72.4 percent (21-29) from the charity stripe.
Doug Espenson led the Gusties with 15 points, 4 steals, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks in his final game as a Gustie. Phil Sowden added 14 points and 5 assists, while Adam TeBrake added seven points. Chris Braier led Lawrence with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Kyle MacGillis added 14 points and five rebounds and Jason Halinbeck tacked on 13 points.
Lawrence posted its second consecutive first round NCAA Division III Tournament win, while the Gusties lost a first round game at home for the first time ever. Gustavus entered with a record of 6-0 at home in the first round.