The Gustavus men’s basketball team was handed its first conference loss of the season on Wednesday evening, falling to St. John’s, 63-54 in St. Peter. The Gusties cut the lead to five points with 1:46 remaining after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, but the Johnnies’ Tyler Westman hit four consecutive free throws down the stretch to seal the game. Gustavus falls to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while St. John’s stays undefeated at 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the MIAC.
The Gusties opened up the game with a 13-6 run capped by Andrew Doble’s (Jr., Sarasota, FL) long jumper at 13:08 on the clock. The Johnnies answered back with six quick points, cutting the lead to one when Jason Fogt scored an easy two points from down low. After a long jumper from Jay Stien (Sr., Arlington, Minn.), Ryan Lieser hit a three pointer for St. John’s to tie the game at 15-15 with seven minutes to play in the half. After each team made a two-point basket, the Gusties took an 18-17 lead on a Stien free throw. From that point on, however, the Johnnies outscored the Gusties 16-5 to take a ten-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
St. John’s started the second half where it left off in the first by going on a 6-2 run to increase its lead to 14 points. A Phil Sowden (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.) jumper with 17:07 left started the Gusties on a 14-4 run capped off nearly seven minutes later by another Sowden jumper, which cut the lead to 43-39 with 10:17 to play. Over the next five minutes, St. John’s responded by outscoring the Gusties 10-4 on Craig Schafer’s lay-up to give the Johnnies a 53-43 lead. Sowden answered by scoring seven of the next nine points in the game to bring Gustavus within five points of the Johnnies at 55-50 with 2:36 to play. After the Johnnies momentarily pushed the lead back to seven points, Sowden sank two free throws to draw the Gusties back within five with a minute to play. Following a missed free throw by Lieser, Sowden grabbed the defensive rebound but committed a turnover to give the ball right back to the Johnnies with 43 seconds to play. The Gusties resorted to fouling Westman, who sealed the 63-54 St. John’s victory with four free throws, a defensive rebound and a block shot in the last 31 seconds of play.
The Johnnies outshot Gustavus from the field 44.4 percent to 35.8 percent. The Gusties had Sowden (17) and Trevor Wittwer (Jr., Redwood Falls, Minn.)(13) in double figures, while Scott Schafer (16), Westman (12), and Ohme (10) scored double-digits for St. John’s. Craig Schafer had a game high ten rebounds for the Johnnies, while Wittwer led the Gusties with six.
Gustavus senior post Phil Sowden scored his 1,000th career point in the contest. Sowden, who reached the plateau by making two free throws with 4:14 left to play in the game, becomes the 30th player in the history of the men’s program to score 1,000 career points.
Gustavus hosts UM-Morris on Monday, December 10th at 7:30 pm to close out the 2006 portion of its schedule.