With the game tied at 57-57, Gustavus Adolphus junior guard Phil Wirtjes, stole the Augsburg in-bounds pass with 0:10 seconds on the clock, took the ball coast-to-coast and finished on the other end with a layup, giving the men’s basketball team a 59-57 win over the Auggies in the MIAC Playoff Semifinal game in St. Peter, Minn. on Thursday night. Augsburg’s Jon Cassens had a chance to tie the game with 0:04 seconds on the clock, yet Seth Anderson got his hand on the ball, forcing a turnover and not allowing a game-winning three-point attempt.
The Gusties will now play Carleton in the MIAC Playoff Championship on Gus Young Court Saturday, Feb 27, at 7:30 pm, due to the upset of #1 seed St. Thomas by #4 Carleton 73-67 in St. Paul.
The game was tightly contested in the first half, as there were five lead changes in the half. Gustavus got out to an early 6-2 lead on a jumper by Sam Paulson at the 16:39 mark, yet the Auggies responded with a 7-0 run, giving them a three point lead (9-6) with just over twelve minutes on the clock. The game went back-and-forth for four minutes until a Dan Schmidtknecht jumper sparked a 10-2 run that put Gustavus up 24-19 with 3:53 on the clock. Augsburg would bring the game to within two points (24-22), yet the Gusties would close the half with a 7-0 run that was capped off by a Jesse Van Sickle three pointer, which gave Gustavus a 33-25 lead at the break.
Gustavus shot 50% (16-32) in the half, out-rebounding the Auggies 24-to-11. Paul Blacklock led the Gusties with eight points, while pulling down seven rebounds in the half. Augsburg shot 33.3% (9-27) in the half, as Mathew Quammen led the team in scoring with eight points.
Augsburg came out of the locker room on fire, putting a 12-4 run on the Gusties and tying the game at 37-37 with 14:22 left to play in the game. Gustavus answered with a 10-2 run that put Gustavus up 49-41 with just under ten minutes to play in the game. Augsburg would not go away however, as the Auggies made a late charge to tie the game at 57-57 on a David Olson three pointer with 1:58 remaining. After being blanked in the first half, Olson scored 10 points (4-6) in the second half to lead the Auggies in scoring. With Augsburg in control of the ball with :34 seconds on the clock, Jon Cassens missed a three pointer, yet an offensive rebound by Brett Sorenson gave the ball back to Augsburg with under the basket with :10 seconds to play. Wirtjes jumped the inbounds pass, making the steal and converting on the other end to give Gustavus a berth into the MIAC Playoff Championship game.
Tyler Grey led the Gusties with nine points in the half as the team shot 43.5% (10-23) from the field. Augsburg shot 50% (14-28) in the half, while outscoring the Gusties 32-26 in the frame.
Gustavus finished the game shooting 47.3% (26-55) from the floor and 50% (3-6) from three-point range. Tyler Grey led the Gusties with 11 points (4-5), as Van Sickle scored nine (4-7), and Jim Hill (3-6) and Blacklock (4-5) both scored eight. Augsburg shot 41.8% (23-55) from the field and 47.3% (7-17) from three-point range. Four Auggies scored in double figures as Olson, Cassens, Cory Polta, and Matthew Quammen all had 10 points.
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will face the Carleton Knights on Saturday, Feb. 27, for the MIAC Playoff Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament at 7:30 pm in St. Peter, Minn.