St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s basketball team jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half and hung on for a 78-64 win over Concordia College on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court. Four Gusties scored in double-figures in the win, led by Brody Ziegler (So., Mankato, Minn.) with 18. With the win, Gustavus improves to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the MIAC, while Concordia falls to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in league play.
After the two teams traded baskets on the first two possessions of the game, Gustavus held an 8-7 lead with 15:16 remaining in the first half. What followed was a 16-3 run for the Gusties that spanned over the next five minutes and opened up a 14-point lead (24-10) with 10:16 left. A free throw by Jordan Dick (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) ignited the run. Dick later capped off the run with a three-pointer, but only after five more of his teammates had scored in the stretch.
The run was thanks in large part to full court pressure by the Gustavus defense that caused three turnovers, which lead to seven points for the Black and Gold.
“We’ve been working on our full court pressure consistently in practice and we got the chance to use it today in the first half,” stated junior wing Jed Kreuser (Jordan, Minn.).
The Gusties would lead by as many as 19 points in the first half before the Cobber finished the half on an 8-4 run that cut the Gustavus advantage to 15 points (42-27) heading into the break.
Gustavus shot a blistering 73.9 percent (17-23) from the floor in the opening frame, the highest shooting percentage in a half by a Gustavus team since January 6th, 2010 when the Gusties shot 83.3 percent (15-18) in the second half of a 69-56 win over St. Olaf. Dick and Ziegler led the way in the opening 20 minutes with 11 points each.
The two teams took turns giving and receiving blows through the first 15 minutes of the second half with neither team gaining ground on the other until the Cobbers went on an 8-3 run to cut the lead to single digits for the first time in the second half. Three-pointers from Tom Fraase and Brett Bergeson and a layup by Jordan Bolger narrowed the Gustavus advantage to nine points (71-62) with 2:56 left to play.
A pair of free throws by Isaac Tapp (Jr., Stewartville, Minn.) pushed the lead back to 11 points (73-62) on the next possession, but Concordia came right back to score on its next trip down the floor and the lead was nine again.
From there, the Gusties went on to score five straight points to put the finishing touches on the 14-point win.
For the game, Gustavus shot 64.4 percent (29-45) from the field, while Concordia shot 46.2 percent (24-52). The Gusties also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Cobbers by a margin 34-15. However Gustavus committed 15 turnovers compared to 13 for Concordia.
“Well looking at the statistics, we rebounded well,” said Head Coach Mark Hanson. “Unfortunately we didn’t cause enough misses on their part in the second half. They were drilling some threes.”
Four Gustavus players scored in double-figures, led by Brody Ziegler with 18 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Ziegler also went 6 of 9 from the free throw line and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Jordan Dick followed with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor, including a pair of threes and chipped in six boards, four of which were offensive. Isaac Tapp and Brian Jacobs (Jr., Lake Crystal, Minn.) rounded out the four players in double-figures with 14 points apiece. Tapp went 5 for 8 from the floor and 4 for 4 from the free throw line, while Jacobs went a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and was also 4 for 4 from the charity stripe.
“It’s always nice when you have four guys in double-figures,” commented Hanson. “I thought our guys off the bench did a nice job, and I think we have a team that likes to see their teammates do well. Maybe that goes without saying, but it’s a team that shares the ball well. I think we have done that all year and we need to continue that.”
Jordan Bolger led the Cobbers in scoring with 16 points. Tom Fraase followed with 12 points and Brett Bergeson and Brandon Giese came next with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Gusties will be back in action again on Monday, Dec. 9th when they host Augsburg. Monday’s opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
When asked about his team’s upcoming schedule, Coach Hanson joked, “Well if you look ahead and see an easy one, let me know.”
“But Augsburg is a very talented team,” Hanson continued. “Going into the year, they were picked to be one of the top two teams in our league. They also have one of the top players in the conference in Dan Kornbaum, yet they have two of conference’s leading scorers who are not him, so they will be another tough test.”