Men’s Basketball Snaps Home Losing Streak, Defeats Saint John’s 69-59

Posted on January 18th, 2015 by

Isaac Tapp scored 17 points for Gustavus in a 69-59 victory over Saint John's on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of C.J. Siewert, SPX Sports)

ST. PETER, MINN. – Coming off two games where it held its opponents to 40-percent shooting or worse, the Gustavus men’s basketball team was able to do the same for the third game in a row in a 69-59 victory over Saint John’s University on Saturday at Gus Young Court. The Gusties were able to limit the Johnnies to 36.1-percent shooting on the afternoon and received 21 points from junior guard Gary Cooper (Detroit, Mich.) to pick up the 10-point win. With the victory, Gustavus improves to 5-3 in the MIAC and 9-5 overall, while Saint John’s falls to 5-3 in the MIAC and 7-6 overall.

“This was a great win for us,” said head coach Mark Hanson. “We won quite a few more hustle battles today and played much more physical underneath the basket, and when we do that, it leads to good things throughout.”

Gustavus began the game in an 7-0 hole, but managed to race back and tie the game at 8-8 to keep the game in check. Four of those eight points came from big man Peter Kruize (So., St. Peter, Minn.) who then scored twice more to put the score at 14-12 in favor of Saint John’s.  Isaac Tapp (Sr., Stewartville, Minn.) then sank a three-pointer to give the Gusties their first lead of the game (15-14) at the 10:41 mark in the first half.

With the score tied at 17-17 with 9:01 remaining in the first half, Cooper converted on two three-point plays in a row, when he was fouled driving to the basket on two consecutive possessions. Cooper sank both free-throws to give the Gusties six quick points and a 23-20 lead with 7:41 remaining.

“We did more things that allowed for more shots while we were in the flow and we obviously shoot better when we’re in the flow,” said Hanson. “We try to get moving in transition whenever we can, but we had more success with that today and I think that was due to better awareness from our guys of where each of their teammates were on the court. We created a few more shots for ourselves today as well, so that was nice to see.”

Over the final seven minutes of the half, Gustavus went on a 10-3 run that was highlighted by a Cooper jump shot as time expired to give the Gusties a 33-26 advantage at the half.

Gustavus began the second half with a steal and quick basket from Tapp, but then allowed two quick three-pointers from the Johnnies’ Alex Schmitt and Mitchell Kuck which brought the Gustie lead to only 35-32. Despite coming into the game as one of the MIAC’s top three-point shooting teams however, those would be the only shots from beyond the arc that the Johnnies would have all afternoon, as the Gustie defense only allowed Saint John’s to go 2-for-13 from long range (15.4-percent).

“I thought we fought really hard, especially on the defensive end…our perimeter defense on them was outstanding,” said Hanson. “They got a lot of shots from Schmitt and Kuck and I thought we did a really nice job of limiting those two especially.”

The Gusties continued to gradually build their lead as the game wound down and never let their lead dip below six after the 8:10 mark. With 2:28 remaining, Gustavus led 62-51 and would finish the game 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to secure the 69-59 victory.

Cooper led Gustavus with 21 points (7-for-9 from the floor) on the day, and became the first Gustie to record more than 20 points in a single game this season. The last Gustie to score more than 20 points in a single game was when Jordan Dick ‘14 scored 21 in an 80-62 victory over Hamline University on Dec. 4, 2013. Tapp was right behind him with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and Kruize finished with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds. Chad Poppen (Jr., St. Peter, Minn.) also chipped in eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, including going 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. Overall, Gustavus shot 48.1-percent from the floor (25-for-52), and was 3-for-5 from three-point range.

Saint John’s was led by Schmitt, the MIAC’s leading scorer with 19 points per game, who finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting and Jacob Peterson who also tallied 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Peterson was also the Johnnies’ leading rebounder with nine. Saint John’s out-rebounded Gustavus 42-33, with 18 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end.

Gustavus will have little time before its next game, as it will host the final contest of a three-game home stand on Monday when it welcomes Macalester College to town. Tip-off with the Scots is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Gus Young Court.

Gustavus 69, Saint John’s 59 (Box Score)

 

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