St. Peter, Minn. - The Gustavus men’s basketball team took control early and didn’t look back, cruising to 74-58 victory over Concordia on Monday night at Gus Young Court. Although Seth Anderson’s name has appeared in the leading scorer category in all but one game through the first half of the season, it was fellow senior Tyler Grey leading the way at the start of the second half of the year. Grey went a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from three-point range on the way to a season and game-high 17 points.
Gustavus, who has now won its last four MIAC contests, improves to 10-4 overall and 7-2 in the MIAC. Concordia makes the long bus ride home with at 5-10 overall and 3-7 in the MIAC.
“We’ve known the whole year that other guys can score. It just so happens that Seth has been the figure-head, so-to-speak,” said senior captain Tyler Grey on Gustavus’ balanced scoring attack against Concordia. “He’s always going to be on fire no matter what you try to do against him. When you have a great scorer like that where he’s not having the best night, somebody needs to step up. Tonight we had a couple guys pick up the scoring.”
The Gusties were in control from the start, going up 8-2 by the 16:20 mark and building an 11-point lead (15-4) by the 14:13 mark following a Jim Hill three-pointer. The Gusties were on fire in the first six minutes, going 7-for-8 from the field to start the game.
Gustavus went on dry spell with a 21-13 lead and Concordia scored five unanswered points to cut the advantage to 21-18 with 9:24 left in the half. The margin would be as close as Concordia would come for the remainder of the game, as Seth Anderson came off the bench to hit a jumper that sparked an 11-to-3 run that gave Gustavus a 32-21 lead at the five-minute mark.
Adam Michel brought the half to a close by picking off a pass near the half-line and racing down court to beat the buzzer with a layup. The Gusties would head into the locker room up 43-27 at the break, shooting 63.3-percent from the field. Grey and Anderson both had 10 points in the half. Grey was 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point range, while Anderson was 5-for-7 from the floor.
Grey’s final three-pointer of the night put Gustavus up 48-27 two minutes into the second half. Three minutes later, a layup by Hill gave the Gusties their largest lead of the game at 54-30 with 15:04 left to play.
A jumper by Ebo Nana-Kweson would bring the Cobbers to within 15 points (56-41) at 11:08. That would be as close as Concordia would come, as Gustavus responded with a 9-to-3 run three minutes later that would extend its lead to 23 points (69-46). The Gusties didn’t score in the final 4:20 of the game, yet held the Cobbers to just five points within the time-frame.
Gustavus shot 41.9-percent compared to Concordia’s 32.0-percent in the second half. Jim Hill had eight points after going 4-for-6 from the field, while Grey added seven points on 3-of-3 shooting.
Ball movement was crisp once again for the Gusties, as they registered their third-highest assist total of the season with 18. Gustavus has averaged 18.7 dimes as a team over its last three games.
The Gusties shot over 50-percent from the field for the third-consecutive game, going 32-for-61 (52.5%) on the night. They were 6-for-9 (66.7%) from behind the arc and 4-for-6 at the line.
Seth Anderson finished with 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting, while Jim Hill also reached double-figures with 11 after going 5-for-10 from the floor. Reed Sallstrom and Paul Blacklock led the team on the glass with eight and seven rebounds, respectively, as the Gusties went on to outrebound Concordia 36-to-24,
“We’ve been taking pride in our defense all season, but especially lately we’ve really ratcheted it up. We said a couple weeks ago that we were letting teams get to comfortable on offense and that is what we’ve tried to come out and change as of late,” said junior wing Jim Hill about the Gustavus’ improved defensive play. “What has been really fun to see is that we’ve been getting more steals. Sometimes when your defense isn’t creating offense you end up taking tougher shots than the other team. Its really good to have defense turn into an easy two points and ease that pressure a little bit.”
Concordia shot 39.2-percent (20-51) from the field, 29.4-percent (5-17) from three, and 81.3-percent (13-16) at the line.
Dewon McKenzie went 4-for-9 from the field and 7-for-7 at the charity stripe to lead the Cobbers with 16 points. Ebo Nana-Kweson contributed 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
Since being ran out of the gym at St. Olaf on Dec. 10, Gustavus is 6-1 with three-straight conference wins at Gus Young Court since.
“We’ve been taking it a half at a time,” said Grey about Gustavus’ improved play within the conference since its loss to St. Olaf. “I think our energy has picked up, especially defensively. We’re just playing so much better as a team right now, and I think that’s the big reason for our turnaround.”
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will be back on the hardwood Wednesday, Jan. 18 for a matchup against Hamline on Gus Young Court. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.