It took three overtimes, but No. 16-ranked St. Thomas held off a hot-shooting host Augsburg team Saturday afternoon in conference men's basketball play in Minneapolis. The Toms rode freshman guard Anders Nelson's heroics to win 112-105.
Nelson scored 35 of his career-best 37-points after halftime, and added seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals. He sank 10 of 10 at the line in the final two overtimes, and made all 12 tries on the game. He twice made shots to tie the game and extend it into the next overtime.
The Tommies (12-1 overall, 8-0 MIAC) ran their win streak to 12 and stayed in a share of the MIAC lead with St. John's. They also helped amend an 0-3 record last season against Augsburg. Senior Connor Bair finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Augsburg (10-4, 6-3) made 18-of-37 from 3-point range.
Coach John Tauer's Tommies trailed by eight points in the first half, nine in the second half, and two in the first OT. They later trailed 88-83 with 49 seconds left in the second overtime before storming back to force a third OT. They even trailed 93-91 in the third OT before Connor Bair's three-point play put them ahead to stay at 94-93.
St. Thomas was outscored 54-27 in 3-point scoring. The biggest trey came with :02 left in regulation and the Toms ahead 63-60 when the Auggies' Matt Carik sank a tying shot from deep in the corner.
The Tommies' comeback was aided by sinking 29-of-33 free throws and committing just 11 turnovers in the 55-minute game.
They also survived another huge game by Auggie junior Booker Coplin, the MIAC's leading scorer at 25.6 ppg. Coplin had 34 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks while playing all 55 minutes.
Nelson drove the length of the floor and hit a pull-up 14-footer at the end of the first OT to tie the game. He made four free throws in the final :05 of the second OT to help erase deficits of three and two points and force a third extra session. He sank two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the third overtime.
St. Thomas plays at Bethel on Wednesday night.