The Gustavus men’s basketball team saw its “Cinderella” run through the MIAC Playoffs come to an end with a hard-fought 83-77 loss at St. Thomas on Sunday afternoon. After trailing by 14 points at halftime (47-33), the Gusties came charging back in the second half and cut the Tommie lead to three points (75-72) with 1:16 to play. St. Thomas, however made eight straight free throws in the final 40 seconds hold off the late Gustavus charge. Seth Anderson led the Gusties in scoring with 28 points.
The Tommies got off to a torrid start making 10 of their first 14 shots in building a 15-point lead at 23-8 in the first seven minutes of play. The Gusties charged back and cut the lead to four points at 34-30 at the 3:58 mark, but St. Thomas answered with another run and took a 14-point, 47-33 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Tommies shot 59.4 percent from the field (19-32) in the first 20 minutes of play compared to 44.1 percent by the Gusties (15-34).
Gustavus started the second half with a 16-6 run that cut the lead to four points at 53-49 at the 13:36 mark, however once again the Tommies responded with a run of their own and pushed the lead back to 14 points at 71-57 with 5:06 left to play. The Gusties made on last furious charge going on a 15-4 run to cut the lead to three at 75-72 at the 1:16 mark, but Gustavus could not ever catch the Tommies who made eight straight free throws to seal the victory and claim the 2011 MIAC Playoff Title.
Seth Anderson’s 28 points led Gustavus, while Phil Wirtjes wrapped up his career with a strong 23-point performance. St. Thomas placed three players in double figures including John Nance with 20, Tyler Nicolai with 18, and Brady Ervin with 16.
Gustavus sees its season come to an end with a 15-13 record, while St. Thomas will take its 24-3 record and #9 national ranking into the NCAA Tournament, which begins next weekend.
Seniors Dan Schmidtknecht, Phil Wirtjes, and Mathew Doble saw their careers come to an end with the loss at St. Thomas on Sunday afternoon. The hard working trio helped the Gusties post a record of 63-46 overall (.578) and 49-31 in the MIAC during their four-year careers, while also helping the program advance to the MIAC Playoff Championship game three times (2008, 2010, 2011) and compile a playoff record of 5-4.