The Gustavus men’s basketball team dropped its home opener to UW-La Crosse on Sunday afternoon in St. Peter, Minn, by the score of 76-69. The Gusties trailed by two points with under three minutes to play but could not close the gap as UW-La Crosse went 6-6 from the free throw line while scoring eight points in its last four possessions. UW-La Crosse’s Tony Mane had a game high 23 points, shooting 9-12 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arch. Gustavus’s Tyler Gray had a career high 19 points, shooting 70 percent (7-10) from the field and 3-5 from behind the three-point line.
Gustavus trailed the Eagles in the early minutes of first half until sophomore Seth Anderson’s layup at the 13:47 mark of the first half gave the Gusties the narrow 11-10 lead. However, the lead would last for less than one minute as UW-LaCrosse’s Trevor Stratton would put the Eagles back on top with a three-pointer, giving them a 13-11 lead. UW-La Crosse would not relinquish the lead and the Gusties played from behind the remainder of the game. The two teams had similar shooting statistics in the first half as Gustavus shot 51.9 percent (14-27) from the field while UW-La Crosse shot 53.6 percent (15-28). The Eagles entered halftime with a 38-31 lead.
The Gusties out-shot the Eagles in the second half 53.3 percent (16-30) to 50 percent (13-26), yet could not get the big stop on defense to swing momentum in their favor. LaCrosse’s Mane and Stratton scored 16 and 10 points, respectively in the half as the Eagles built a 16-point lead with just over ten minutes to play. Gustavus’s Phil Wirtjes brought the game within three at 65-68 with a layup with 1:25 remaining in the game. But, UW-La Crosse’s Andrew Haass answered with a layup with 1:09 left on the clock, giving the Eagles a 70-65 lead. The Gusties were unable to score on the ensuing possession and were forced to send the Eagles to the free throw line, where they hit 13-17 in the game. Gustavus’s Ryan Mc Partland led team with 10 second half points on 5-6 shooting, while Haass of scored 14 points to lead UW-La Crosse, shooting 6-6 from the field in the half.
Gustavus will open the MIAC season on Wednesday at Carleton College at 7:30pm.