Collegeville, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 59-57 loss to Saint John’s on Saturday afternoon at Sexton Arena. The Gusties led by two points with 3:35 to play, but the Johnnies tied the game with 1:09 remaining and knocked down two free throws with :03 seconds left to claim the two-point victory. With the loss, Gustavus falls to 9-9 (7-7 MIAC). Saint John’s improves to 9-10 (8-6 MIAC).
The Johnnies jumped out to a nine-point lead in the early going, thanks to an 11-2 run to begin the game. The Gusties came back with an 18-9 surge of their own to tie the game on a Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.) jumper with 5:58 remaining in the opening half. Gustavus went on to take a two-point lead into halftime with the score 29-27.
The Gustie cagers shot 54.5-percent (12-22) from the floor in the first half compared to a 45.8-percent (11-24) clip for the Johnnies. Saint John’s held the rebounding advantage 15-11 and the two squads turned the ball over eight times each.
Gustavus began the second half on a 14-6 run to take a 10-point lead with 15:04 remaining. The 10-point advantage proved to be the largest for either team in the contest, but the Johnnies converted a layup to cut the lead to single-digits once again.
From there, Saint John’s began chipping away at the lead, eventually cutting it to two with 3:35 to play and a score of 57-55. Neither team would score for the next 2:26 when Jack Wittenborg knocked down a jumper for the Johhnies to tie the score at 57 apiece.
The Gusties had two chances to take the lead, but could not convert on either one and the Johnnies took with :06 seconds to go. A loose-ball foul called with :03 seconds remaining sent Chris Orgas to the line with the chance to all but win the game for the Johnnies. After Orgas hit both free throws, Gustavus could not get a shot off before the buzzer sounded, giving Saint John’s the two-point victory by a final score of 59-57.
For the game, the Gusties shot 50-percent (22-44) from the floor compared to 52.2-percent (24-46) for the Johnnies. Gustavus also racked up 11 assists compared to 13 turnovers while Saint John’s tallied 10 assists and 11 turnovers.
Jim Hill led the Gusties in scoring with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field. He also added five rebounds and two assists. Blake Shay (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) came next with 14 points off the bench on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor to go along with four rebounds. Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.) was the last Gustie to score in double-figures with 11 points. Biewen also racked up five rebounds and two assists.
Gustavus will have an off-day Monday and be back in action Wednesday, Jan. 30th when Saint Mary’s comes to St. Peter. Opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m.