St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s basketball team opened up 2012 with a 62-45 win over Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. The Gusties, who were back at home for the first time since Dec. 7, turned in their best defensive performance of the season, holding the Cardinals to season-lows in both points (45) and field goal percentage (.378).
Gustavus has now won three-straight games, improving to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the MIAC. Saint Mary’s drops to 0-10 overall and 0-5 within league play.
“I’d like to see us make more shots, but I thought we stuck it to them defensively and created some good looks,” said Head Coach Mark Hanson. “It’s a win and we’re always happy to come away with a win.”
The contest featured the two premier scorers in the MIAC in Seth Anderson and Michael Burfeind. Anderson finished the game with 32 points after going 12-for-19 from the field and 8-for-9 at the free throw line. Burfeind was next in line with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
“Seth certainly made some tough shots and I think our guys do an outstanding job creating shots for him,” remarked Hanson. “Clearly, the pull-up jumper is what he does best, but when you’re the leading scorer in the conference and you’re still getting open looks, that means your teammates are doing some good things.”
After a back-and-forth opening five minutes, a layup by Ben Biewen gave the Gusties a 9-8 lead with 15:08 on the clock. The lead change would be the final one of the game, as Gustavus would not relinquish the advantage for the remainder of the contest.
Gustavus hammered the boards on the both ends of the court in the opening half, outrebounding the Cardinals 22-to-15. Jim Hill led the way with six boards (3 offensive, 3 defensive), while Anderson had five (1 offensive, 4 defensive). Anderson set the pace offensively with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
A jumper by Anderson with :26 seconds left in the half gave Gustavus a 30-25 advantage at the break. The Gusties shot 40.4-percent from the field in the first half compared to Saint Mary’s 37.8-percent.
“Going into halftime it was a little tough with Bob going down because that sort of took the wind out of sails. I thought we came out strong in the second half and put the clamps on them defensively,” said senior post Ryan Nett.
Putting the clamps down on defensively is exactly what Gustavus did. The Gusties allowed just 20 points in the half, forcing nine turnovers and allowing just one offensive rebound.
The Gusties used an 11-to-4 run in the opening minutes of the second half to lead 41-29 with 14:49 left to play. Saint Mary’s was able to cut the lead to eight points (47-39) at the 8:33 mark. A free throw by Adam Michel on the ensuing possession sparked a 13-to-2 Gustavus run that put the game out of reach at 60-41 with 3:16 left to play.
Gustavus scored 17 points off turnovers in the half, while shooting 41.4-percent from the floor. Anderson went 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line to lead the way with 18 points inside the frame.
The Gusties shot 40.4-percent (23-57) from the field, 20-percent (2-10) from three-point range, and 73.7-percent (14-19) at the stripe. Jim Hill followed Anderson with nine points and eight rebounds, while Ben Biewen and Adam Michel each scored seven. Michel added six boards, as did Paul Blacklock. The Gusties controlled the rebounding margin 38-to-28 at the final buzzer. 17 of those 38 boards were on the offensive end, a season-high for the Gusties.
“When you miss as many shots as we did, you have to get some offensive rebounds. We certainly had a size advantage against and that’s what we would expect to do,” commented Hanson.
Tom Gores also finished in double-figures for the Cardinals with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Saint Mary’s shot 37.8-percent (17-45) from the field, 27.3-percent (3-11) from three, and 57.1-percent (8-14) at the free throw line.
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will continue on its current three-game home-stand on Saturday, Dec. 7 with a non-conference game against UW-Stout set to take place at 7:30 p.m.