St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the opening minutes and would not look back in a season-opening 83-68 win over Simpson College at Gus Young Court on Friday night. Five Gusties scored in double-figures to lead a Gustavus offense that shot 62.7 percent (32-51) from the field for the game. Gustavus opens the season 1-0 and will take on Buena Vista University tomorrow night, while Simpson begins the year 0-1 and will head to Augsburg for its second game tomorrow evening.
“It was just great to get out there and play against someone other than ourselves for a change,” admitted junior guard Isaac Tapp (Stewartville, Minn.). “We got off to a strong start. We moved the ball well and got some easy ones early. I think our defense was pretty good overall. We gave up a couple open threes, but overall I think it was a pretty good start.”
The Gusties got off to that strong start by making six of their first seven field goal attempts on the way to building an early 15-4 lead just over four minutes into the game. Four of Gustavus’s five starters scored in the opening five minutes, which would pave the way for a big night offensively for the Gusties.
The Storm came back to cut the lead to six points with 12:21 to play in the first half on a Leif Olson layup, but Gustavus responded with a 10-2 run to open up its largest lead of the half at 25-11 on a jumper by Peter Kruize (Fr., St. Peter, Minn.) with 9:04 left in the first.
Simpson would trim the deficit to 10 points with the score of 39-29 at the break. Gustavus shot 58.6 percent (17-29) from the floor, while holding Simpson to 37.5 percent (12-32) shooting. The Gustie bench also outscored that of the Storm 14-4 in the opening half.
Gustavus began the second half on an 11-3 run to open up a 20-point lead on a Kruize layup with 14:20 to play. Simpson chipped away, eventually cutting the lead to 12 points (54-42), but the Gusties embarked on another run, this time 13-6, to extend the lead back up to 19 points (69-50) with 8:41 remaining.
Six minutes later with Gustavus leading by 18 points (80-62), Tapp converted a steal and a fast break score with an emphatic two-handed dunk that all but took the wind out of the Simpson sails.
From there, the Gusties went on to commit four turnovers in the final two and a half minutes, but not even the sloppy play could keep Gustavus from opening its season with a 15-point victory.
“Once we built the lead in the second half, we got a little complacent and made some sloppy plays,” acknowledged Tapp. “As we get back into the swing of things and playing more games, we will get better at that. We need to be better at keeping the intensity up.”
Gustavus continued its strong shooting in the second half. The Gusties shot a blistering 68.2 percent (15-22) after the break, including a 60 percent (3-5) mark from three-point range. For the game, Gustavus connected at a 62.7 percent (32-51) from the floor and 50 percent (4-8) from behind the arc. Friday night’s field goal percentage was the best in a season opener by a Gustavus team since the 2006-07 season when the Gusties shot 65 percent (26-40) from the field in a 76-68 win over Luther.
“It was a nice start,” stated Head Coach Mark Hanson. “We did a lot of things pretty well at times. We also had times where we got a little sloppy, especially in the last five minutes, and I think we became more comfortable than we needed to. But it was a good start for us. We shared the ball well. Despite getting in some foul trouble, I think our inside players played well, but we will see plenty to work on as well.”
Five players reached double-figures for the Gusties. Isaac Tapp and Brian Jacobs (Jr., Lake Crystal, Minn.) led the way with 17 points apiece. It was a career high for both players as Tapp went 6 for 11 from the field and Jacobs was 6 for 7, including a 3 for 3 mark from three-point range. Peter Kruize came next with a big night in his collegiate debut. The freshman scored 16 points on 6 for 7 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jordan Dick (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) added 14 points, making 5 of 7 field goals and all four of his free throw attempts. He also pulled down eight boards. Brody Ziegler (So., Mankato, Minn.) was the final Gustie in double-digit scoring with 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
“Losing our four seniors last year hurt our scoring, but I think this year we will spread it around more like you saw tonight,” said Tapp of the balanced scoring. “We got other guys involved and were unselfish tonight. I think that is something that will play into our favor that we don’t just have one or two guys that can score.”
Although notching just one point in the scoring category, Martin Feddersen (Jr., Winona, Minn.) lit up the stat line with eight rebounds and seven assists in his first collegiate start.
Charlse Swain led way for Simpson. Swain scored 17 points, while Austin hennings following with 16 points and seven rebounds. Chad Gutschenritter added 12 points along with four rebounds and three steals. For the game, Simpson shot 37.1 percent (23-62) from the field.
Gustavus will be back in action tomorrow night (Saturday) on Gus Young Court when the Gusties host Buena Vista University. Opening tip is set for 7:00 p.m.
“Buena Vista is always a good team,” mentioned Hanson. “They are a well-schooled team, they play basketball the appropriate way, they work hard, they do the little things well. It will be a tough test for us.”