Second Straight Comeback Effort Not Enough; Men’s Basketball Concludes Season With 83-79 Loss To No. 6 St. Thomas In MIAC Semifinals

Posted on February 28th, 2015 by

Gustavus dropped an 83-79 overtime heartbreaker to St. Thomas in the MIAC Semifinals on Friday evening. (Photo courtesy of Matt Higgins)

ST. PAUL, MINN. – After making its second straight comeback effort, the Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team was not able to weather the storm that was the University of St. Thomas down the stretch, as it fell to the No. 6 ranked Tommies 83-79 in an MIAC Semifinal overtime thriller played Friday night at Steve Fritz Court. The loss ends the Gusties’ season in which they finished 16-11 overall.

Gustavus found itself down by 10 at halftime (38-28), but outscored the Tommies 41-31 in the second half to send the game to overtime. In the extra period, St. Thomas used a 5-0 run over the first minute to build momentum and ultimately dash the Gusties’ hopes of an upset and a chance to advance to the MIAC Playoff Final.

Although the score was never lopsided, St. Thomas dominated the game’s first half in which it shot 57.1 percent compared to Gustavus’s 38.7, and used its size inside to out-rebound the Gusties 17-14.

Less than six minutes into the game, the Tommies took a 13-4 lead, thanks in large part to multiple Gustavus defensive miscues that left St. Thomas with wide open shots. After a Gustie timeout at 14:19, the Black and Gold seemed to have their defense in better order, but the Tommies went 3-of-5 from the field over the next four minutes to maintain their nine point advantage to take a 22-13 lead with 10:06 remaining in the first half. St. Thomas continued to shoot the ball well as the half unwound, but the Gusties’ Gary Cooper (Jr., Detroit, Mich.) kept the visitors within reach, scoring 13 of his 23 total points in the first half.

Following halftime, the Gusties used a 9-2 run to quickly cut the Tommie lead to 40-37 with 17:48 to play. However, 2:18 later, St. Thomas had rebuilt its lead to nine thanks to three Gustie fouls and two turnovers.

But Gustavus charged back and this time for the long haul, as it would go on an 11-2 run over the next 4:11 to tie the game at 50-50, the closest Gustavus had been since the beginning of the game. St. Thomas would regain a brief three-point lead, but a timely Isaac Tapp (Sr. Stewartville, Minn.) triple tied the score again at 55-55 with 9:28 to play and allowed the Gusties to take their first lead of the night when Cooper hit a free-throw at the 8:57 mark to make the score 56-55 in favor of Gustavus.

In his final collegiate game, Martin Feddersen scored all 18 of his points in the second half and overtime.

In his final collegiate game, Martin Feddersen scored all 18 of his points in the second half and overtime.

Another Tapp three-pointer tied the game at 59-59 with 6:53 remaining in regulation. At that point, Brody Ziegler (Jr., Mankato, Minn.) took charge, as the big man scored the next six Gustavus points to help it maintain a slight advantage down the stretch. Senior co-captain Martin Feddersen (Winona, Minn.) also played a key role in helping the Gusties’ second half push, as he scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe, all in the final frame.

With :31 seconds to play, the Gusties held a 69-66 lead and looked to be in the driver’s seat as the Tommies were forced to foul Chris Narum (Jr., Eagan, Minn.) to stop the clock. But Narum missed the front end of the 1-and-1, allowing St. Thomas one final offensive possession. A foul by Cooper with :16 seconds remaining seemed to be well-timed, as it would send the Tommies to the free-throw line instead of giving them the opportunity to tie the game on a three-pointer. The Tommies’ Taylor Montero sank the first of two, but intentionally missed the second and St. Thomas got the offensive rebound to create the dramatic end to regulation.

With just :5 seconds to play, St. Thomas sophomore guard Grant Shaeffer missed a jumper from the top of the key. Cooper tipped the ball back out to the three-point line, but unfortunately it went into the waiting hands of Tommie sharp-shooter Marcus Alipate who drove to the right elbow and sank a desperation fadeaway jumper with 1.7 seconds left on the clock to send the Tommie crowd into a frenzy. Gustavus was not able to get off a shot in the final seconds, which sent the game into overtime.

St. Thomas continued its momentum on the first possession of the extra period, as Alipate converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give St. Thomas a three-point lead, and draw the fifth foul on Cooper, who had starred to that point with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting to lead all scorers. Shaeffer added a jumper, but Feddersen converted four straight free-throws to make it a one-point game (74-73) with 3:04 to play. However, St. Thomas used a 5-0 run in the final two minutes to create enough separation and hang on for the four-point victory.

After its poor first half shooting performance, Gustavus rebounded to shoot 64 percent in the second half, bringing its game average to 45.2 percent compared to the Tommies’ 49.1. Rebounds between the two teams were dead even, as both the Gusties and Tommies brought down 34 boards on the evening. Both teams also converted an equal number of three-pointers, as Gustavus went 4-for-13 from long range, while St. Thomas was 4-of-19.

With the win, St. Thomas will advance to Sunday’s MIAC Championship game against No. 4-seeded Bethel, which defeated second-seeded St. Olaf 75-67 on Friday in Northfield. The Tommies will be attempting to claim their fourth MIAC Playoff title in the last five years and eighth in the last 10.

St. Thomas 83, Gustavus 79 (OT) 

 

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