Collegeville, Minn. – Tied 64-64 with 2.3 seconds remaining, senior Jordan Dick (Wabasha, Minn.) made one of two free throws to lift the Gustavus men’s basketball team past Saint John’s University on Wednesday night in the quarterfinal round of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Playoffs.
Dick finished with 13 points, one point shy of Martin Feddersen (Jr., Winona, Minn.), who led the Gusties with 14 points. Patrick Butcher led the Johnnies with 14 points.
With the win, Gustavus improves to 17-9 overall and keeps its season alive, while Saint John’s finishes its season 15-11. The Gusties will next travel to Northfield, Minn., to take on St. Olaf on Friday night in the MIAC Semifinals.
“I thought we played tough,” mentioned Dick following the win. “Offensively, we had a few good looks that we should have made, but we played tough defense all night. We had a great game plan coming in and executed it well. We knew they were going to try to get to the rim and did a good job of forcing them to shoot contested layups.
Jordan described it best. The Gusties played tough from the opening tip, scoring the game’s first seven points. After Martin Feddersen made a driving layup for the contest’s first two points, Dick made a layup and a three-pointer to give his team the early lead just over two minutes in.
Saint John’s answered with a seven-point run of its own to tie the game two and a half minutes later. From there, the two teams battled for the remainder of the half, as neither team would lead by more than five points.
With 28 seconds remaining in the first, Jordan Dick converted a layup to give the Gusties a five-point lead (33-28), but Kevin McKenzie made a driving layup of his own with five seconds left to cut the Gustavus lead to three (33-30) headed to the break.
Gustavus shot 46.7 percent (14-30) from the field compared to 41.9 percent (13-31) for Saint John’s in the opening 20 minutes. The Gusties also outrebounded the Johnnies 22-to-12, including an 8-to-4 advantage on the offensive glass. The effort on the boards by the Gusties led to a 12-to-5 advantage in second chance points.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first when Martin Feddersen banked in a driving layup to extend the Gustavus lead to five points (35-30). Saint John’s came back to score six of the game’s next eight points to pull within one point (37-36) with 17:51 remaining.
As was a common theme throughout the game, the two teams went toe-to-toe over the last 18 minutes. The lead swayed back-and-forth as each team took its turn on top.
Tied 57-57, Feddersen made a pair of free throws to give the Gusties a two-point lead with 4:12 to play. A minute later, Gary Cooper (So., Detroit, Mich.) nailed a huge triple from the right wing and the momentum seemed to be shifting in the favor of Gustavus.
However, the Johnnies would not go quietly. Trailing 64-59, Blake Maslonkowski made a layup to pull his team within three points before Patrick Butcher cashed in on a deep three from the top of the key to tie the game with 1:15 to go. The trey resurged the Johnnie crowd and shifted the momentum back toward Saint John’s.
“I liked that we hung in there,” mentioned Hanson. “When you miss a few free throws and they make a big three late in the game like they did, it’s easy to hang your head and give up, but we didn’t. I was proud of them in that regard.”
Neither team would score in the final minute until Gustavus’s final possession. After a key stop on the defensive end, the Gusties regained possession with 25 seconds remaining. With time winding down, Feddersen drove into the lane, spun, and fired up a turnaround fade-away that bounced on the rim twice before bouncing off the left side.
Jordan Dick was in the right place at the right time. The senior skied high to snatch the rebound. On the put-back attempt, Dick was fouled, nearly making the shot, and was sent to the line for a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds showing on the game clock. Dick made the first attempt before missing the second, which allowed Saint John’s one final heave that was no good, and the Gusties emerged victorious.
“I knew Marty was going to get a good look, but put myself in position just in case,” described Dick of the final play. “I just about made the shot, but thankfully made the free throw instead. Coach Hanson told me to miss the second one so they couldn’t set anything up.”
“It was a huge rebound,” commented Hanson. “You think about all of the planning and preparation that goes into trying to stop a team and the game comes down to a loose ball. Jordan may have just been in the right place at the right time, but regardless, it’s little things like those that change the course of the game.”
For the game, Gustavus shot 43.6 percent (24-55) from the field, while Saint John’s shot 44.8 percent (26-58). The Gusties also owned the glass, outrebounding the Johnnies 43-to-28. Of those 43 rebounds, 15 came on the offensive end, which led to a 19-to-9 advantage in second chance points.
Martin Feddersen made 4 of 6 field goal attempts and was a perfect 6 for 6 at the free throw line for his team-high 14 points. He also had four rebounds and four assists. Jordan Dick followed with 13 points and three rebounds. The third and final Gustie to score in double-figures was Gary Cooper with 12 points to go along with seven rebounds. Although he scored just six points, Brody Ziegler (So., Mankato, Minn.) grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds alongside four blocked shots.
Three Johnnies scored in double-figures, led by Patrick Butcher with 14 points. Seth Marx came next with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Nick Meyer provided 10 points off the bench.
With tonight’s win, Gustavus advances to the MIAC Semifinals, where it will take on second-seeded St. Olaf on Friday night in Northfield, Minn. That game is set for a 7:30 p.m., opening tip.
“They shoot the ball very well, so we are going to have to defend well,” remarked Hanson of St. Olaf. “They play so hard and are an intense team. We are going to have to match their intensity and make plays.”
“Friday night is going to be fun,” finished Dick. “We know each other well, they have great fans, and hopefully we will have a good amount of fans as well. It should be a lot of fun.”