The Gustavus men’s basketball team struggled late yet held on in the last minute to defeat Saint Mary’s by the score of 80-77 Monday night in St. Peter, Minn. Saint Mary’s brought the score to within one point twice in the final :30 seconds, yet solid Gustavus free throw shooting kept the Cardinals from closing the gap. Four Gustavus players scored in double figures, as Jesse Van Sickle scored a season high 21 points shooting 67% (8-12) in the game. Saint Mary’s Will Wright led all scorers with 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting.
The Gusties came out firing in the first half, taking an 11-point lead at the 13:58 mark of the first half. Van Sickle got out of his shooting slump, going 7-9 from the field and 3-5 from behind the three point line to score 19 points in the first half. The Gusties outshot Saint Mary’s 54.3% (19-25) to 34.8% (8-23) in the half. Gustavus finished the half with a 15-5 run, building a 23-point lead heading into halftime.
Gustavus looked to be in control for much of the second half, but the Cardinals slowly chipped away at the lead bringing the score to 68-57 with eleven minutes to play. Adam Michel led the Gusties in the final 20 minutes as he made 4-of-5 from the field. A three pointer by Chris Palmer with a 1:21 to play, and five unanswered points by Will Wright brought the score to 76-75 in favor of Gustavus with :30 seconds to play. After a St. Mary’s foul on the next possession, Tyler Grey went 2-2 from the line to give Gustavus the three point lead. Saint Mary’s Lukas Holland hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead back to one at 78-77. A quick Cardinal foul sent the Gusties’ Wirtjes to the line where he made both free throws. The Cardinals Lukas Holland missed a three-point shot at the buzzer allowing Gustavus to escape with the victory.
Saint Mary’s outscored Gustavus 53 to 33 in the second half, as the Cardinals shot shot 68% (17-25), compared to 59.1% (13-22) for the Gusties. The Cardinals Will Wright and Chris Palmer both got hot in the second half, as Wright scored 18 points going 6-9, while Palmer had 14 points on 5-7 shooting. Gustavus’s Ryan McPartland was a perfect 3-3 from the field, scoring eight points in the half. Saint Mary’s climbed back into the game partly because of its second half free throw shooting, as the team went 16-18 from the line in the second half.
Gustavus was led in scoring by Jesse Van Sickle (21 pts), Adam Michel (13 pts), Ryan McPartland (10 pts), and Paul Blacklock (10 pts). The Gusties shot 56.1% (32-57) in the game, as Saint Mary’s shot 52.1% (25-48).
The Gusties will be back in action on Wednesday night at 7:30pm in Minneapolis, Minn., as they will take on Augsburg.