The Gustavus men’s basketball team got back on the winning track with a 76-65 victory over Saint John’s Monday night in Collegeville, Minn. Phil Wirtjes (15 pts), Ryan McPartland (15 pts), Jesse Van Sickle (14 pts), and Sam Paulson (12 pts) all scored in double-digits, as Gustavus made 10 of it’s last 12 free throws to seal the victory. Saint John’s Sam Blank scored a game-high 18 points while shooting 6-8 from behind the arc.
Saint John’s took a one-point lead on a free throw by Aaron Burtzel on the opening possession of the game, yet Gustavus’s Dan Schmidtknecht would answer with a jumper one minute later, giving the Gusties the 2-1 advantage. It would prove to be the last lead change of the game as the Gusties would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. Gustavus led by seven points at the halftime break with the score 36-29. Van Sickle led the team with nine points in the first half on 4-6 shooting. Gustavus shot 50% (15-30) from the field, as Saint John’s shot 41.7% (10-24).
The Johnnies battled back in the second half and brought the score to within one point (58-57) with 5:49 remaining. A jumper by Seth Anderson less than one minute later ignited a 10-0 Gustavus scoring run that gave the Gusties a 68-57 lead with 2:30 left in the game. The Gusties led by as much as 13 points with under two minutes to play as the team shot 44.4% (12-27) in the half. Sam Paulson had a big second half, scoring 10 points (4-7) and bringing down four rebounds.
Gustavus shot 47.4% (27-57) from the field in the game, while going 4-9 from behind the arc (44.4%). Saint John’s shot 40% (22-55) from the field and 50% (8-16) from three point range. Aaron Burtzel registered a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Gustavus improves to 11-4 overall and 9-1 in the MIAC, while Saint John’s drops to 9-6 overall and 6-4 in the MIAC.
Gustavus will next play host to Carleton at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night in St. Peter, Minn.