The Gustavus men’s basketball team’s offensive woes continued on Saturday as the Gusties fell to Saint John’s 71-60 in Collegeville in the final game of the regular season. The Gusties managed just 22 points in the first half and trailed by 13 at halftime. Sam Paulson recorded his first double-double of the season and second of his career with a game-high 17 points and 13 boards. Gustavus dropped to 12-13 overall and 11-9 in the MIAC, while the Johnnies improved to 14-11 overall and 12-8 in the league.
Saint John’s took a double-digit lead with 4:42 gone in the opening half when Cole Isetts hit a three-pointer to put the Johnnies ahead 15-5. Gustavus answered with a 9-2 run powered by six points from Sam Paulson and a three from Jesse Van Sickle to narrow the gap at 17-14 with 11:19 on the clock. However, the Gusties struggled to score over the next seven minutes as the team committed four turnovers and failed to make several layups as the Johnnies built a 28-16 advantage. Both squads traded baskets before intermission as Gustavus went into the locker room trailing 35-22.
A layup by Ryan McPartland pulled the Gusties to within seven points at 35-28 less than three minutes into the second half, but a three-point basket by Andy Burns and a pair of free throws from Isetts put Saint John’s ahead 40-28. The Johnnies maintained their double-figure lead throughout the second half until Gustavus made a late charge to pull within 63-56 with 1:15 left. However, Saint John’s made its free throws down the stretch en route to the 71-60 win.
Sam Paulson posted a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Jesse Van Sickle contributed 20 points in 35 minutes. No other Gustie recorded more than seven points. Five Johnnies scored more than ten points with Aaron Burtzel leading the way with 15. Gustavus struggled from behind the three-point arc on 4-for-16 shooting at 25 percent compared to Saint John’s, which went 8-for-19 at 42 percent.
By virtue of the loss, Gustavus is the No. 6 seed in the MIAC Playoffs and will face Saint John’s, which is the No. 3 seed, in Collegeville on Monday at 7:30 p.m.