The Gustavus men’s basketball team let a 14-point second half lead slip away in a heartbreaking 77-69 overtime loss to St. Olaf on Wednesday night in Northfield, Minn. Phil Wirtjes hit a game-tying three pointer with :27 seconds left to play to send the game into overtime tied 67-67, yet the Gusties scored just two points in the overtime period, shooting 1-for-6 from the field. St. Olaf’s Bobby Fong scored a game-high 34 points (12-22), while bringing down 11 rebounds in the game. Gustavus was led by Ryan McPartland with 18 points (6-8).
Ryan McPartland went 4-5 from the floor for 11 points in the first half, as the Gusties carried a 43-31 lead into halftime. A jumper by Tyler Grey at the 13:08 mark of the half started an 18-2 scoring run that put Gustavus up 30-15 with 7:26 remaining. Gustavus shot 61% (17-28) in the first half, while going 5-for-5 from the free throw line. St. Olaf shot 46% (13-28), shooting just 23% (3-13) from three point range.
Wirtjes gave Gustavus it’s largest lead of the half on a layup at the 17:43 mark of the second half, bringing the score to 47-33. Gustavus led 54-44 with 10:47 remaining, yet the Oles came storming back in the late minutes of the game, as a basket by Fong ignited an 11-3 scoring run that tied the game at 62-62 with 3:23 remaining. A three pointer by Mark Torell gave St. Olaf a 67-62 lead with 1:46 remaining, but the Gusties would not go away as a bucket by McPartland brought the Gusties to within three points (67-64) with 1:27 left to play. A missed shot by St. Olaf’s Alfred Jaryn, opened the door for Wirtjes’s game-tying three pointer.
St. Olaf scored the first five points of the overtime session, leading 72-67 with 1:37 remaining. Gustavus scored with :40 seconds left, making the score 69-72, yet the St. Olaf hit five of it’s last six free throws to hold on to the eight point victory. Fong scored seven points in overtime.
Gustavus shot 53% (27-51) from the field in the game, as St. Olaf shot 44% (27-62). St. Olaf won the turnover battle 11 to 17, and pulled down six more offensive rebounds than the Gusties (12-6). Phil Wirtjes and Tyler Grey joined McPartland in double digits with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Along with Fong, Tucker Sheley was the only other Ole in double figures, scoring 13 points (5-8).
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will be in action next on Saturday, Feb. 13, in St. Peter, Minn. against Bethel at 3:00 p.m.