The Gustavus men’s basketball team stumbled on the road in a hard fought 78-75 loss at the hands of Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night in Winona, Minn. With the scored tied 70-70, the Cardinals made a 5-0 run with under 1:13 to play to take the lead and close the door on the Gusties. Saint Mary’s Will Wright scored a game-high 18 points on 5-8 shooting, while teammate Michael Burfeind scored 17, shooting 8-10 from the field. Gustavus’s Ryan McPartland led team with 14 points (6-15) and eight rebounds.
Gustavus got off to a slow start as Pat Freeman put Saint Mary’s up 12-6 with a layup at the 13:40 mark of the first half. Gustavus picked up the scoring and went on a 6-1 run, bringing the score to 13-12 in favor of the Cardinals with 11:55 on the clock. The two teams would go back-and-forth over next five minutes before Saint Mary’s took it’s largest lead of the half on a three-pointer by Will Wright with under two minutes to play, making the score 39-33. Dan Schmidtknecht sent the Gusties into the locker down four points (39-35) with a layup on their last possession. Will Wright was the leading scorer with 14 points while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, and 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Phil Wirtjes led the Gusties with seven points on 3-of-3 shooting. Gustavus shot 65% (15-23) in the half, as Saint Mary’s shot 63% (15-24).
The Cardinals would lead by as many as seven points with the score 44-37 in the opening minutes of the second half. Gustavus chipped away at the lead and tied the game at 46-46 on a jumper by Wirtjes at the 15:01 mark. Gustavus would then go on a 6-0 run to take a 52-46 advantage with just over 12:00 minutes remaining in the game. Gustavus held the lead until the 4:26 mark, at which point Michael Burfeind hit a jumper that put the Cardinals back on top 67-66. Burfeind led the team with nine second half points (4-5). Free throws proved to be the difference down the stretch, as Saint Mary’s hit six of it’s last eight to hold on to the lead.
Gustavus finished with a field goal percentage of 57% (32-56), while shooting 67% (4-6) from three-point range. Saint Mary’s shot 59% (27-46) from the field and 44% (8-18) from behind the three-point line. The Cardinals went to the charity stripe more than twice the amount as the Gusties, going 16-22, while Gustavus was 7-10. Although Gustavus out-rebounded Saint Mary’s 31-18 in the game, the Gusties lost the turnover battle 16-10.
Four Gustavus players scored in double figures as Wirtjes and Paulson both scored 14 points, while Schmidtknecht scored 10. Gustavus falls to 12-6 overall and 10-3 in the MIAC, while Saint Mary’s improves to 7-11 overall and 5-8 in the MIAC.
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will be back in action on Monday, Feb. 1, against Augsburg College at 7:30pm in St. Peter, Minn.