St. Peter, Minn. - After giving up a layup to Saint Mary's on the opening possession of the game, the Gustavus men's basketball team came back with a three-pointer on the ensuing trip down the floor to take the lead and would not look back on the way to an 82-43 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. The Gusties took a 16-point lead (38-22) into halftime and extended that lead to 27 points (51-24) following a 13-2 run to open the second half. Gustavus controlled the game the rest of the way for the 39-point victory. Gustavus improves to 10-9 (8-7 MIAC) while Saint Mary's falls to 3-16 (2-12 MIAC).
"It was a good win," stated junior sniper Jordan Dick (Jr., Wabasha, Minn.), who finished the night with nine points on three three-pointers. "We played pretty well, especially offensively. We made a lot of shots and did what we needed to do to get the win."
Barring a 2-0 Saint Mary's lead following a layup on the opening possession of the game, Gustavus controlled the game in its entirety. After the Cardinal layup, Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.) connected from three-point range with the shot clock winding down to put the Gusties in front 3-2 and they would not trail for the remainder of the evening.
Hill's triple sparked the Gusties to a 13-2 run that extended the lead to nine points (13-4). From there, Gustavus continued on to take its largest lead of the first half at 19 and the score 29-10. The Gustie men used a 16-4 surge to get there which was capped off by a pair of free throws from Blake Shay (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.). The Cardinals chipped away at the Gustie lead over the last five minutes of the opening half and were able to close the gap to 38-22 heading into halftime.
Gustavus rattled off another 13-2 run to extend its lead to 27 points (51-24) in the opening 4:23 of the second half. From there, the Gusties continued to build the lead until the last buzzer sounded with a 39-point advantage for the home team by the final score of 82-43. Gustavus forced 23 Saint Mary's turnovers compared to just nine of its own. Those 23 giveaways for the Cardinals led to 24 points for the Gusties, who finished with a 24-7 advantage in the points off turnovers category.
"We took care of the ball better tonight," acknowledged Dick. "We have had a little bit of a problem turning the ball over these last couple games and we did a better job of limiting turnovers tonight, but the biggest emphasis lately has been rebounding. Offensive rebounds have been killing us and we will continue to work on it heading into Saturday against Hamline. We will get it done."
The Gusties were led in scoring by a trio of seniors in double-figures. Blake Shay made his presence felt off the bench with a career-high 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor. Shay also went 3-for-5 from downtown and 3-for-3 from the free throw line on the night. Jim Hill followed Shay with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting that included two treys and Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.) put together another solid line with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
As a team, Gustavus shot 54.1-percent (33-61) from the field, 47.4-percent (9-19) from three and 87.5-percent (7-8) from the charity stripe compared to 38.1-percent (16-42) from the floor, 25-percent (1-4) from behind the arc and 52.6-percent (10-19) from the line for Saint Mary's. However, head coach Mark Hanson is still not satisfied with a 33-24 disadvantage on the boards.
"It felt good to win," admitted head coach Mark Hanson. "We needed that on our home court and although we still gave up too many offensive rebounds I thought we created good shots. We shared the ball well, we shot well, but we still need to become a better rebounding team. It was also felt good to get some guys who haven't been on the floor much some playing time."
The Gusties will next travel to St. Paul on Saturday, Feb. 2nd for a 3:00 p.m. showdown with Hamline.