The Gustavus men’s basketball team built an early 14-point lead, but could not withstand a strong second half Macalester rally and the result was a disappointing 82-78 at Gus Young Court on Wednesday evening. The Gusties were unable to contain the Scot duo of Tom Conboy and Abe Woldeslassie, who scored 34 and 33 points respectively. Gustavus was led by Trevor Wittwer with 17 points.
The Gusties got off to a solid start and led 12-5 with 14:06 on the clock. Macalester outscored Gustavus 10-4 over the next three minutes and the Gustie lead was cut to one at 16-15 with 11:44 left to play in the first half. At the 6:54 mark, a Woldeslassie layup made the score 26-22 in favor of Gustavus. However, the Gusties would go on a 14-4 run over the next four minutes giving Gustavus its biggest lead of the game (14 points) at 40-26 with three minutes to play before halftime. Woldeslassie converted another layup at the :29 mark making the score 40-32 in favor of the Gusties at the intermission.
Macalester set the tone for the second half outscoring Gustavus 7-2 in the first two-and-a-half minutes of play cutting the lead to three at 42-39. The Gusties would hold on to its slim lead over the next four minutes, however Abe Woldeslassie would hit a three-point basket at the 14:45 mark to give the Scots their first lead since the opening minute of the game at 52-51. Gustavus would counter with a 13-1 run that put the Gusties in front by 12 at 64-52 with 10:42 left in the game. Trailing 68-56 with 8:55 on the clock, Woldeslassie and Conboy led Macalester on a 13-2 run that cut the lead to one at 70-69 with 5:55 left to play.
Trevor Wittwer made two free throws to give Gustavus a 76-75 lead at the 3:31 mark, but Conboy countered with a three-point basket at the other end giving the Scots a 78-76 lead. The Gusties tied the score at 78-78 on a Wittwer layup with 2:55 to play. Woldeslassie hit yet another layup at the 1:31 mark giving the Scots the lead for good at 80-78. Gustavus would miss its final four shots of the game and Macalester would hold on for an important 82-78 conference victory.
Macalester shot a scalding 75 percent from the field (15-20) in the second half, including 71.4 percent from three-point range (5-7), while the Gusties would shoot a cool 40.5 percent from the field (15-37) and a chilly 28.7 percent from three-point range (2-7).
Four Gustavus players scored in double figures including Wittwer with 17, Sam Paulson with 13, Andrew Doble with 12, and Ryan McPartland with 10.
Woldeslassie and Conboy were virtually unstoppable in the second half as the two combined to make 13-of-15 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Kyle Hamblett hit a key three-point basket and was 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the second half to aid the Macalester cause. Macalester snapped a five-game losing streak in St. Peter and won for only the third time on Gus Young Court in the past 20 years.
Gustavus is now 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC, while Macalester is now 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC. The Gusties will play at Augsburg on Saturday, while the Scots have a bye.