The Gustavus men’s basketball team secured the number two seed in the MIAC Playoffs with a 79-74 victory over Saint John’s on Saturday afternoon in St. Peter, Minn. Gustavus made 13 of it’s last 14 free throws in the final 1:19 of the game to hold off the surging Johnnies. Saint John’s came back from an 18-point second half deficit, hitting 3-pointers in the final minute to cut the lead to 75-74. A pair of free throws by Schmidtknecht put Gustavus up 79-74, as Mychal Crowder stole the inbounds pass on the ensuing possession, sealing the victory.
Gustavus finishes the regular season with a 15-10 overall record and a 13-7 MIAC record. Saint John’s finishes at 14-11 overall and 11-9 in the MIAC.
Gustavus had four players in double figure scoring, as Jesse Van Sickle scored 14 points, Sam Paulson scored 13, and Tyler Grey scored 12. Ryan McPartland registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Saint John’s Nermin Hujdurovic scored a game-high 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
Gustavus grabbed an early 12-5 lead at the 14:47 mark of the first half on a three pointer by Van Sickle. St. John’s came back with a 9-0 run to take a 14-12 lead at the 12:56 mark on a layup by Todd Herman. Herman led the Johnnies in scoring in the first half with eight points (4-7). The Gusties made a 7-0 run with the scored tied at 14-14 to take a 21-14 advantage with just over nine minutes left in the half. The Gusties largest lead of the half came at the 3:20 point, when a three pointer by Grey put Gustavus on top 32-23. Gustavus shot 50 % (4-8) from three point range in the half, as Saint John’s was a hot 66.7% (4-6). Gustavus led 36-28 at the halftime break.
Gustavus led by as many as ten points in the opening five minutes of the second half, as Sam Paulson scored Gustavus’s first six points of the half. At the 14:11 mark, Gustavus made an 11-1 scoring run to take a 58-39 lead with just over eleven minutes left to play. Gustavus hit three 3-pointers within the run. With under ten minutes to play in the game, Saint John’s began to chip away at the lead, as Hujdurovic scored 18-points in the final 9:35 of play. Free throw shooting sealed the win for Gustavus, as Saint John’s had to foul down eight points with :55 seconds left in the game. Saint John’s outshot Gustavus 58.3% (14-24) to 47.8% (11-23) in the half, as Hujdurovic scored all of his 19-points in the half.
Gustavus and Saint John’s finished with an identical field goal percentage at 48.1%, as the Gusties went 26-for-54 and the Johnnies went 25-for-52. Gustavus had the advantage in rebounding, out-boarding the Johnnies 34-23 in the game. Gustavus shot a near perfect 95% (19-20) from the free throw line, while shooting 50% (8-16) from behind the arc. Saint John’s Andy Burns finished with 18 points, as Todd Herman scored 12.
With the victory, the Gusties have earned an opening round bye and home court advantage in the MIAC Playoff semifinals on Thursday, Feb 25th, at 7:30 pm. Gustavus will play the lowest remaining seed from the quarterfinal games beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd.
It was Senior Day on Gus Young Court, as the four Gustavus seniors were honored for their commitment to the men’s basketball program over the past several years. The Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to seniors Jesse Van Sickle, Sam Paulson, Ryan McPartland, and Mychal Crowder.