Morris, Minn. – After the Gustavus men’s basketball team had led for the entire second half, Brendon Foss scored a layup with 26 seconds remaining to give the University of Minnesota-Morris a 65-64 lead, which would be all the Cougars would need in a 68-64 win on Saturday afternoon. Foss’s layup came in the midst of a 10-0 run to close the game for UM-Morris. With the loss, the Gusties fall to 3-1 on the season, while the Cougars improve to 3-1.
Gustavus took a one-point lead (27-26) into halftime following a defensive-minded back-and-forth battle in a first half that featured 16 turnovers between the two teams. Each squad committed eight giveaways, while the Gusties shot 42.9 percent (12-28) from the field and the Cougars shot 36 percent (9-25). Gustavus would lead by as many as seven points (12-5) in the half, but a 5-2 run in the final two minutes of the half cut the lead to one at the break.
Following a blow-for-blow first three minutes of the second half, the Gusties took off on a 12-2 run to open up their largest lead of the game at 10 points (46-36). From there, the Cougars slowly chipped away at the Gustavus lead before embarking on a 10-0 run over the final 4:17 of the game to capture the four-point win.
The run began with a layup from RJ Dean to cut the lead to four points (64-60). Dean was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to pull the Cougars within three (64-61). Following a turnover on ensuing Gustavus possession, Evan Reller converted another layup on UM-Morris’s next trip down the floor. A minute and a half later, Brendon Foss scored a third straight layup for the Cougars to take UM-Morris’s first lead of the second half and would make three straight free throws to close the game. Gustavus scored just 11 points in the final 10 minutes to allow the UM-Morris run.
For the game, Gustavus shot 52 percent (26-50) from the floor, thanks in large part to a 63.6 percent (14-22) clip in the second half. The Cougars finished with a 49 percent (24-49) field goal percentage due mostly to a 62.5 percent (15-24) mark in the second half. The Gusties held the rebounding advantage 33-25, however they also committed 18 turnovers compared to 12 for the Cougars.
Gustavus was led in scoring by Isaac Tapp (Jr., Stewartville, Minn.), who scored 14 points on 6 for 12 shooting from the field. He also dished out a team-high three assists. Sergio Najera (So., New Prague, Minn.) was the only other Gustie to finish in double-figures with 11 points. He also pulled down a team- and career-high nine rebounds.
UM-Morris was led by RJ Dean, who scored 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting. He was also 5 of 7 from the free throw line, pulled down six rebounds, and dished out three dimes. Brendon Foss followed with 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
The Gusties will be back in action again on Wednesday, Dec. 4th, when they travel to St. Paul to open Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) play against Hamline University.