St. Peter, Minn. – It was not pretty, but the Gustavus men’s basketball team halted its three-game losing-streak on Wednesday night, grinding out a 64-54 win over Macalester on Gus Young Court.
After the two teams went into the locker room at halftime tied at 30 points apiece, the Gusties used a 17-6 run midway through the second half to take a 12-point lead (55-43), their largest of the game. The run proved to be enough, as Gustavus held on the rest of the way for the 10-point win.
Brian Jacobs (Jr., Lake Crystal, Minn.) scored 15 points on 7 for 12 shooting to lead the way for Gustavus, while Macalester’s Kareem Ismail led all scorers with 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting.
With the win tonight, the Gusties improve to 13-8 overall and 10-6 in the MIAC, while the Scots drop to 3-18 overall and 2-14 in league play.
“Coming off three straight losses, we probably weren’t the most confident group, but there were some things I thought we did very well,” said Head Coach Mark Hanson. “I though we created good shots, shots that I thought would have led to better than a 50 percent shooting percentage. We also rebounded offensively pretty well. I’m just glad we stuck with it and found a way to get the win.”
After Gustavus took a 23-16 lead with 8:27 remaining in the opening half, Macalester scored six straight points to cut the lead to one point (23-22) just two and a half minutes later. The Scots would eventually take a three-point lead before Chad Poppen (So., St. Peter, Minn.) tied the game (30-30) heading to the halftime break.
“Certainly I was concerned when Macalester got back in it in the first half,” Hanson mentioned with a smile. “Because they have had a lot of losses, they are the kind of team that if they get a little glimpse of success, that gives them a spark. Any win for them is going to be a big one and beating a top half team would have been all the better. They play with a lot of enthusiasm and grit, and if you give them an inch, they will take a mile.”
The two teams traded baskets through the first five minutes of the second half, as Gustavus’s Brian Jacobs and Macalester’s Bert Yaffe each scored their team’s first five points after halftime.
Following an Anders Voss layup for Macalester that cut the lead to one point (38-37) with 14:44 to go, Gustavus took off on a 17-6 run to take a 12-point lead (55-43) with 7:05 remaining.
Six different players scored in the run, which was sparked by a Coleman Sweeney (Fr., Lake City, Minn.) bank shot from the top of the key and finished with a pair of free throws from Jordan Dick (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.).
The stretch gave the Gusties the breating room they needed, as they would hang on through the remaining seven minutes of play to escape with the 10-point win.
Gustavus shot an even 50 percent in each half and went 24 for 48 in the game. Macalester also shot 50 percent (22-44) from the field in the loss. The high shooting percentage was thanks in large part to quality shots.
“Our focus was to get the ball inside,” stated Brian Jacobs on his team’s ability to create open looks. “We play the best when we play inside out. We knew that if we got the ball inside, we could get some great looks, either at the basket or on kick-outs.”
Although the Gusties outrebounded the Scots 31 to 20, Gustavus still committed 15 turnovers – 10 of which came in the first half – compared to 13 for Macalester.
Jacobs’s 15-point, five-rebound performance led three Gusties in double-figure scoring. Jordan Dick followed with 13 points to go along with five rebounds. Chad Poppen came off the bench to add 12 points thanks to a 6 of 7 mark at the free throw line. Poppen also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
Kareem Ismail was the only player to finish in double-figure scoring for the Scots. He also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, while Sager Moritzky dished out eight assists.
Gustavus will next travel to Northfield, Minn., on Saturday afternoon to take on Carleton. That opening tip is set for 3:00 p.m., directly following the women’s game. Macalester will host Augsburg at 3:00 p.m., at the Leonard Center.
“Carleton is going to play us tough on Saturday as usual,” stated Jacobs. “They have a couple of good posts and it’s always tough to play at Carleton.”