St. Peter, Minn. – Trailing by eight points (68-60) with 1:50 remaining, the Gustavus men’s basketball team came roaring back with an 8-2 run in the final minutes of its 73-68 loss to No. 11 St. Thomas on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court.
A three-point basket by Brian Jacobs (Jr., Lake Crystal, Minn.) capped off the run and cut the Tommie lead to two points (70-68) with 15 seconds remaining, but the Gusties could not complete the comeback in the loss.
With tonight’s result, Gustavus falls to 16-9 overall and 13-7 in the MIAC, while St. Thomas improves to 21-3 overall and 18-1 in league play.
After St. Thomas took an 11-point lead (35-24) into the locker room at halftime, Gustavus opened the second half on a 10-1 run to cut the lead with 16:02 remaining. The Tommies countered with a 10-0 run of their own to take a 12-point lead (46-34) just two and a half minutes later.
From there, the Gusties chipped away at the lead until the final 1:50 when they came back with the 8-2 run, but St. Thomas sealed the win with three straight free throws in the closing seconds.
Tommie Marcus Alipate led all scorers with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting, including a 6 of 10 mark from three-point range. Brody Ziegler (So., Mankato, Minn.) led the Gusties with 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds.
The two teams began the game trading blows, as neither team would lead by more than four points in the opening 10 minutes of play. Gustavus scored its first 14 points in the paint, establishing its inside presence in the early going.
Tied 14-14 with 9:44 remaining in the opening half, St. Thomas took off on a 12-0 run to take a 26-14 lead with just under seven minutes remaining until halftime. Marcus Alipate and Zach Riedeman each scored five points in the run.
The Tommies would take an 11-point lead (35-24) into the break after shooting 56 percent (14-25) from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Gustavus shot an even 50 percent (12-24) in the half and outscored St. Thomas 18-14 in the paint. However, the Tommies held the advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Gusties 13-10 in the opening frame, including five offensive rebounds.
“I thought we played a little soft in the first half and we can’t do that against a team that is as good as St. Thomas,” remarked Head Coach Mark Hanson. “We played harder and tougher in the second half, and we just need to continue that going into next week.”
It is often said that the first five minutes of the second half are the most important five minutes of a game. Regardless of the truthfulness to this statement, the first five minutes of the second half certainly set the tone for Gustavus’s comeback effort in the final frame. The Gusties opened the half on a 10-1 run that cut the St. Thomas lead to two points (36-34) just four minutes after the break.
The run began on the opening possession of the second 20 minutes when Brody Ziegler banked in a turnaround jumper just outside the lane. Brian Jacobs followed on the ensuing possession with a put back on an offensive rebound. Twenty seconds later, Martin Feddersen (Jr., Winona, Minn.) took advantage of a transition opportunity with a driving layup and the lead was cut to five points (35-30).
After Connor Nord made good on one of two chances at the free throw line, Jordan Dick (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) came off a screen and cashed in on a jumper to cut the lead to four points (36-32). Feddersen finished off the run with another driving layup and the Gusties were within a basket with 16:02 remaining.
However, the Tommies answered with a 10-0 run of their own to take a 12-point lead (46-34) just two and a half minutes later. It was Alipate and Riedeman who did the damage again for St. Thomas. Alipate hit two threes in the run, while Riedeman and Ryan Saarela added layups.
From there, the Gusties began to chip away at the Tommie lead. Gustavus cut the lead to five points or less on numerous occasions, and pulled within three points (56-53) momentarily with 6:58 remaining before Alipate delivered another dagger from three.
St. Thomas was able to extend its lead to eight points with less than two minutes remaining. With 1:50 left, Gustavus began an 8-2 run that started when Martin Feddersen found a cutting Jordan Dick open under the hoop. Dick laid it up and in to cut the lead to six.
After a missed free throw by Erik Tengwall, Feddersen found a cutting Brody Ziegler, who made the layup and was fouled on the play to stop the clock with 25 seconds left in regulation. Ziegler converted the free throw to pull his team within three points with the score of 68-65.
A quick Gustavus foul on the next possession led to a pair of made free throws by Zach Riedeman. Now trailing by five points, Chad Poppen (So., St. Peter, Minn.) found an open Brian Jacobs in the corner behind the arc. Jacobs buried the triple to cut the lead to two points (70-68) with 15 seconds remaining.
Another quick foul sent Tommie Erik Tengwall to the line just two seconds later. The Gusties got the miss they needed on Tengwall’s first attempt. After he made the second, Gustavus trailed by just three points with 12 seconds to go.
On the next possession, the Tommie defense held strong, forcing Poppen into an off-balance three-point attempt from the top of the key that would not go down. Tengwall pulled down the rebound for St. Thomas and was fouled immediately. He sank both free throws along with any hope the Gusties had of a comeback, as there was just one tick on the clock.
After shooting an impressive 63 percent (17-27) in the second half, Gustavus finished shooting 56.9 percent (29-51) for the game and 9 for 10 from the free throw line. St. Thomas made 51 percent (25-49) of its field goal attempts and made 8 of 19 from three-point range. The Tommies also outrebounded the Gusties 26-22, including 10 offensive boards. Gustavus outscored St. Thomas 24-10 in the paint in the second half on the way to a 42-24 advantage for the game.
“I thought we played well, but it’s not satisfying,” analyzed Hanson. “We did some things well, but I think we will look back and say that giving up second shots hurt us. Some of them were long rebounds that are going to happen, but it’s still disappointing.”
Ziegler’s 18 points and eight rebounds led the way for Gustavus, who placed three players in double-figure scoring. Martin Feddersen followed Ziegler with 15 points to go along with five assists, while Jordan Dick added 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
Alipate led all scorers with his 22 points. The only other Tommie to score in double-figures was Zach Riedeman with 14. Connor Nord added nine points and eight rebounds.
With the loss, Gustavus concludes its regular season and will play next Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the MIAC Playoffs against an opponent that is yet to be determined. The playoff field will be announced following Saturday’s final day of regular season play. St. Thomas will host Saint John’s on Saturday in St. Paul.
Wednesday was also Senior Night for the Gustie men. As is tradition, the final home game of the regular season is designated as Senior Night and a special tribute is made to the individuals who have dedicated themselves t the Gustavus men’s basketball program for the past four years. This year, the Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to senior Jordan Dick.
“He’s great,” Hanson put simply of his only senior. “He is probably as good of a shooter as I’ll ever see and we will miss him in so many ways.”