St. Paul, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s basketball team fell at the hands of 11th-ranked St. Thomas by the final score of 61-50 on Wednesday night at Schoenecker Arena. The free throw line proved to be the difference in the contest as the Tommies converted 19 of 24 attempts compared to just 5 of 11 for the Gusties. With the loss, Gustavus drops to 9-5 overall and 6-3 in the MIAC, while St. Thomas improves to 11-2 overall and 8-0 in league play.
In a tightly contested first half, neither team would lead by more than four points until the final minute and a half of the frame when Erik Tengwall hit a pair of free throws to give the Tommies a six-point lead (32-26) headed to the break.
The two teams shot an identical 44.4 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, as Gustavus made 12 of 27 attempts and St. Thomas connected on 8 of 18 tries. The Gusties also held an advantage in rebounding (18-11), not allowing the Tommies a single offensive rebound.
However, as was the case throughout the game, the difference was at the free throw line, where St. Thomas made 12 of 15 attempts compared to an 0 for 2 mark for Gustavus.
St. Thomas opened the second half on a 9-2 run to push its lead to 13 points (41-28) with just over 15 minutes to play. Back-to-back Gustavus baskets from Peter Kruize (Fr., St. Peter, Minn.) and Chad Poppen (So., St. Peter, Minn.) cut the lead back to single digits at eight points (41-33) just two minutes later, but five straight points for the Tommies pushed the advantage back to 13.
It was Poppen who then cut the lead to seven points (46-39) with his own 6-0 run and the Gusties were back in business with 8:26 remaining. The two teams traded trips to the charity stripe until St. Thomas used an 8-2 run to take control of the game. The stretch gave the Tommies a 16-point lead (61-45) inside the final minute. The lead was their largest of the game and proved to be enough in the 11-point win.
For the game, Gustavus shot 43.8 percent (21-48) from the floor and 60 percent (3-5) from the three-point line, while St. Thomas hit for a nearly identical 43.9 percent (18-41) of its field goals and 40 percent (6-15) from three. The damage was done at the free throw line for the Tommies, as they made 19 of 24 attempts compared to just 5 of 11 for the Gusties.
Although Gustavus committed 16 turnovers, the giveaways led to just a 15-13 disadvantage in points off turnovers. The Gusties also outrebounded the Tommies by a considerable 35-23 margin and only allowed two offensive rebounds.
Gustavus was led in scoring by Chad Poppen and Martin Feddersen (Jr., Winona, Minn.). Each scored a career-high 13 points on the night. Poppen came off the bench to make 6 of his 7 field goal attempts, while Feddersen made 5 of 9 shots and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season. The junior also dished out a team-high five assists.
St. Thomas was led in scoring by Conner Nord with 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting. He also pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The only other Tommie to score in double-figures was Taylor Montero, who came off the bench to score 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including three treys.
Gustavus will look to get back in the win column on Saturday, Jan. 18th when it travels to Winona, Minn., to take on Saint Mary’s University. That opening tip is set for 3:00 p.m.