Senior captain Trevor Wittwer made a 15-foot turnaround jumper under heavy defensive pressure with :07 left in regulation play to help Gustavus claim an improbable 51-50 win over Concordia on Monday night in St. Peter. The Gusties who trailed 35-25 at halftime, limited the Cobbers to 15 points in the second half. Kane Sivesind and Jesse Van Sickle each scored 10 points to lead Gustavus.
The Gusties managed to win in spite of shooting 32.7 percent from the field (18-55) and 56.3 percent from the free throw line. Coach Mark Hanson’s squad led only three times in the game, twice in the first half (3-0 and 6-5) and once in the second half (51-50).
Gustavus entered the contest as the top rated defensive team in the conference allowing 65.2 points per game, while Concordia was the third rated squad allowing 65.8 points per game and a physical, defensive tone was apparent from the start. Both teams were forced to work very hard for each basket and there were very few uncontested shots. The Cobbers posted significantly better shooting numbers in the first half making 14-of-27 shots (51.9 percent) from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line (84.6 percent), while the Gusties shot just 32.1 percent from the field (9-of-28). The Cobbers used an early 10-0 run to build a nine-point lead at 15-6 with 13:32 on the clock. Late in the half, as Gustavus had battled back to cut the lead to four points (27-23), the Cobbers used an 8-2 run to take a 35-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. Concordia senior Luke Linz led all scorers in the first half with 13 points.
The game got even more physical in the second half and the intense defensive pressure led to Concordia shooting 22.2 percent from the field (4-of-18) and Gustavus shooting 33.3 percent from the field (9-of-27) in the final 20 minutes. The Gusties used an 11-4 run in the first five minutes to cut the 10-point Cobber lead to three at 39-36. Gustavus continued to chip away at the lead and pulled within one point at 41-40 with 9:35 remaining. Luke Linz countered with five consecutive points to push the lead back to six at 46-40. An important three-point basket by Tyler Kaus as the shot clock was expiring pulled the Gusties to within three points at 46-43. With 4:13 remaining in the game, Erik Lien made two free throws to give Concordia a five-point lead at 50-45, however those were the last points the Cobbers would score in the contest. At the 2:20 mark, Trevor Wittwer was fouled by Luke Linz and it was Linz’s fifth foul of the game, which was a big blow for Concordia. Wittwer made both free throws cutting Concordia’s lead to one point at 50-49. Neither team was able to scored until Wittwer made his dramatic jumper as the shot clock was expiring with :07 left in regulation play. The Cobbers did not call a timeout and Karl Olson quickly pushed the ball up the floor looking for a shot. The Gusties provided enough interference to force him to put up an off-balanced jumper from about eight feet out and the shot caromed off the rim, which allowed Gustavus to escape with the narrow victory.
Concordia’s Luke Linz led all scorers with 20 points. He was the only Cobber to reach double figures. Gustavus was led by Kane Sivesind and Jesse Van Sickle with 10 points each.
The Gusties claimed their 15th consecutive regular season win on Gus Young Court against the Cobbers dating back to 1992-93. Concordia did win a MIAC Playoff game at Gustavus (47-43) in the 1995-96 season.
The Gusties are now 17-5 overall and 13-4 in the MIAC, while Concordia falls to 11-11 overall and 10-7 in the MIAC. Gustavus, which clinched an MIAC Playoff berth with the victory, can clinch the #2 seed and a bye in the first round of the playoffs with at least one win in its final three games. The Gusties have now advanced to the MIAC Playoffs for seven consecutive years and 13 times in the past 14 seasons.