The Gustavus men’s basketball team suffered its fourth consecutive setback Saturday afternoon with an 81-70 loss to St. Thomas in St. Peter, Minn. Seth Anderson led both teams with a career-high 28 points, but the Gusties were overpowered by a strong effort by the Tommies on both sides of the ball.
After knotting the score at two apiece early in the game, the Gusties failed to pull within three points of the Tommies the rest of the way as St. Thomas led the game from wire-to-wire. The Gusties were hurt especially by 3-point field goals, making only 3 of 11 (27.3%) beyond the arc compared to St. Thomas’ 6 of 12 (50%).
Although the Gusties outrebounded St. Thomas both offensively (7-4) and defensively (18-15), their 13 turnovers eventually caught up to them as they were unable to break through the Tommie defense until late in the game. Of Anderson’s 28 points, 20 came in the second half. Phil Wirtjes and Bobby Johnson were the other Gusties to crack double digits with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Gustavus pulled back into the game with a pair of rallies in the middle of the second half. After St. Thomas put up its largest lead of the day with a 26-point cushion, the Gusties scored nine unanswered points with every one coming from the hot hands of Anderson. Following a pair of jump shots, Anderson netted a layup and a three-pointer to ease the deficit to 17 points.
St. Thomas replied with a layup to halt the Gusties’ scoring spree before Gustavus went on another run. After a timeout, Gustavus went on a seven-point run beginning with another layup by Anderson. Wirtjes sank a three-pointer as the shot clock expired and added a jumper for good measure. When the dust settled, the Gusties had shrunk its deficit from 26 points to 12 in just under six minutes.
“Honestly I felt like we turned a corner a little bit in the second half and played with the intensity and energy and to a degree of toughness that we have to if we’re going to attain some of the goals that we expect to reach,” said head coach Mark Hanson. “We’re going to feed off of the good things that came out of that second half and understand that there are things we need to get better at and that we need to work off of that.”
Gustavus outscored the Tommies 42-41 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 40-28 deficit it faced at halftime. The loss drops the Gusties to 10-7 in the MIAC, which puts them in fifth place in the league standings. The Gusties will host St. Johns on Monday at 7:30 at Gus Young Court in St. Peter, Minn.