Cardinals open season with win

More news about: St. Mary-s (Minn.)

WINONA, Minn. — After a span of 48 days without playing a game, the Saint Mary's University of Minnesota men's basketball team finally opened its 2014-15 season Wednesday evening at the Saint Mary's Gym.
And it was worth the wait.
Well worth it.
The Cardinals kicked off their season in grand fashion, getting double figure scoring from Ronnie Ortiz (Dayton, Ohio), Will Swiggum (St. Charles, Minn.) and Jake Rhyner (Apple Valley, Minn.) and holding off a late second-half Hamline rally to hand the Pipers to a 70-67 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference setback.
Saint Mary's showed no signs of first-game jitters, building leads as big as 15 points in the game's opening 20 minutes, before settling on a 12-point, 35-23 halftime advantage.
The Cardinals refused to relinquish the lead over the game's final 20 minutes—but the Pipers certainly made things interesting down stretch.
A Mark Schumacher (Perham, Minn.) layup midway through the second half gave Saint Mary's a 16-point, 57-41 cushion. Eight minutes later, however, that Cardinal advantage had been whittled down to one, 61-60, as the Pipers used a 19-4 run to make it a one-point game with 2:55 remaining.
That would be as close as the Pipers would get, however, as Saint Mary's drained nine of 13 free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.
Ortiz led the Cardinals with 14 points, while Swiggum chipped in 13 and Rhyner—making his collegiate debut—chipped in 11, including a 3-for-4 showing from the 3-point line.
As a team, the Cardinals show 54 percent from the field (26-for-48) and went 10 of 16 from the free throw line.
Hamline—which was led by Dior Ford's game-high 17 points—was 22-for-52 from the field (42 percent) and made 17 of 23 free throws in falling to 0-1 in conference play and 3-2 overall.
The Cardinals are back in action—and back on their home court—on Saturday, hosting Augsburg in a 3 p.m. conference game at the Saint Mary's Gym.