Even Elvis Presley would have been impressed with the Gustavus men’s basketball team’s performance at the D3hoops.com Classic held in “Fabulous Las Vegas.” For the second night in a row, the Gusties were able to hand their opponent its first loss of the season, defeating Transylvania University 66-62 in another tightly-contested game.
Transylvania would lead by six points on two occasions at the 13:07 (17-11) and 11:23 (19-13) marks of the first half. The Gusties would tie the game at 28-28 with 5:35 left in the half, but the Pioneers responded with a 7-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 35-28 with 2:20 left. A jumper by Reed Sallstrom and two three throws by Seth Anderson brought the score to 35-32 in favor of Transylvania at the break.
Anderson led all scorers in the first half with 15 points after going 5-for-8 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. Brandon Rash led the Pioneers with 13 points, going 5-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three-point range. Gustavus shot 55-percent and Transylvania shot 52-percent from the field in the first.
Back-to-back three pointers by Jim Hill then Ben Biewen gave Gustavus a 38-37 lead at the 17:29 mark of the second half. It was Gustavus’ first lead since the opening minute of the game. Transylvania once again answered with a big scoring run, taking a 46-39 lead with 14:12 on the clock.
Transylvania took back the lead shortly after and held a narrow advantage for the majority of the second half. A jumper by Ben Biewen at the 4:03 mark sparked a 6-0 Gustie run that tied the game at 57-57 with 2:39 to play. Down one point (60-59) with 1:10 remaining, a three-pointer by Tyler Grey turned out to be the final lead change of the contest, giving Gustavus a 62-60 edge with :54 seconds on the clock.
Following an Anderson free throw that put Gustavus up 65-62 with :19 seconds left, Barrett Meyer missed a game-tying three on the ensuing possessing and Ben Biewen brought the score to a final at 66-62 on a three throw with :10 seconds left.
Gustavus shot 41.7-percent from the field in the second half, while Transylvania shot 31.8-percent. Biewen led the Gusties with 10 points after going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 1-for-1 from three point range.
Seth Anderson led the way with a game-high 24 points. He went 7-for-14 from the field and 10-for-14 at the free throw line. Ben Biewen joined Anderson in double-figures with an 18-point effort, matching his career-high. Biewen went 5-for-6 from the field, 2-for-3 from three, and 6-for-8 at the line. The Gusties shot 47.7-percent (21-44) from the field in the game. The Gustie bench outscored Transylvania’s 17-to-8 in the contest.
Transylvania shot 42.6-percent (20-47) from the field and 47.4-percent (9-19) from three-point range. The Pioneers were led in scoring by Brandon Rash who went 7-for-11 from the field, 4-for-4 from three, and 6-for-8 at the line for 24 points. Ethan Spurlin scored 15 points and Tate Cox added 13 to join Rash in double-figures.
The Gusties finish 2011 on a high note and improve to 6-3 on the season with the win. After suffering their first loss of the year, the Pioneers enter 2012 at 10-1 overall. Gustavus will return to Minnesota and kick 2012 off with a conference test against Saint Mary’s on Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Peter.