The Gustavus men’s basketball team matched its season-best defensive performance by allowing just 40 points on the road to Saint John’s on Monday night in Collegeville, Minn. The Gusties went on to win the game, their seventh consecutive, 58-40, as Jim Hill led the team with his best scoring performance of the season, turning in a game-high 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
With the victory, Gustavus improves to 18-5 overall and 15-3 in the MIAC, while Saint John’s drops to 13-10 overall and 9-9 in the MIAC.
After a back-and-forth opening half in which there were nine lead changes, a free throw and a layup by Paul Blacklock inside the final 3:04 of the frame gave the Gusties a 26-23 lead at the break. Blacklock’s buckets proved to be the final lead change of the game, as Gustavus’ defense held the Johnnies scoreless for the final 4:20 of the half.
Blacklock led all scorers in the first half, going 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 at the charity stripe. The senior post went on to record his second double-double of the season, finishing the game 12 points and 11 rebounds. He ended up 4-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line. Blacklock has reached double figure boards in two of Gustavus’ last three games.
To start the second half, the Gustie defense would not allow a point until the 17:14 mark when Kevin McKenzie cut the lead to 28-24 with a free throw. From there, two jumpers by Hill and a three-pointer by Tyler Grey started a 9-2 run that concluded with Gustavus in the lead 37-26 with 12:13 to play.
The Johnnies could not recover from the deficit, trailing 46-31 at 5:58 and 53-34 with 3:15 left on the clock. Gustavus kept Saint John’s at 40 points for the final 2:14 of the contest.
Gustavus was red-hot in the second half, going 12-for-21 from the floor. The Black and Gold finished the game 23-of-45 (51.1%) from the field, 6-of-9 (66.7%) from three, and 6-of-13 (46.2%) from the free throw line.
Leading the charge in the second half was Hill, going 7-for-9 for a total of 15 points. Tyler Grey followed him with six points after going 2-for-2 from three. Grey went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc for a total of 12 points and dished out a game-high five assists in the game.
After shooting a cold 23.8-percent from the field and scoring just 17 points in the second half, Saint John’s finished 15-for-44 (34.1%) from the floor, 6-for-16 (37.5%) from three, and 4-for-12 (33.3%) at the line.
Patrick Butcher was the only Johnnie player to finish in double figures, scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and going 2-for-2 from three point range.
The Gustavus men’s basketball team will make the trip to Moorhead, Minn. to battle the Cobbers on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for its final road game of the regular season. Tip-off is set for 7:45 p.m.