St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men's basketball team suffered its second straight home loss on Saturday afternoon when it fell to Saint John's by a final score of 69-65. Trailing by eight at halftime, the Gusties came back with an 8-0 run to start the second half to tie the score at 35-35 with 16:24 to play. The two squads would trade baskets for most of the final frame, but in the end the Johnnies prevailed with the four-point victory. With the loss, the Gusties fall to 1-3 overall, and 0-2 in the MIAC. The Johnnies improve to 1-3 overall, and 1-1 in the MIAC with the winning effort.
The Johnnies jumped out to an early 14-7 lead on a three-pointer from Seth Marx with 14:52 to play in the first half. Gustavus came back to tie the score at 23-23 with 7:18 remaining in the opening half after a flurry of baskets from both teams. From there, Saint John's used a 12-5 run to close out the half and take a 35-27 lead to the intermission.
The Gusties came roaring back in the opening minutes of the second half. A Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.) post move that resulted in an old-fashion three-point play just :10 seconds in to the final frame sparked the Gusties to an 8-0 run that tied the game up at 35 apiece at the 16:24 mark. Hill, Isaac Tapp (So., Stewartvill, Minn.), and Reed Sallstrom (Sr., Winthrop, Minn.) all scored in the run, which was capped off by a pair of free throws by Sallstrom.
Sallstrom gave the Gusties their first lead of the game just over a minute later when he nailed a jumper from just outside the elbow to put Gustavus on top 37-36. What followed was a game of "Anything you can do, I can do better," with the two squads trading baskets back and forth. A free throw from Blake Shay (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) was answered with a jumper from Chris Neumann. A three-pointer from Tapp for the Gusties was answered Marx for the Johnnies, which was in turn answered by Jordan Dick (Jr., Wabasha, Minn.) with a trey to tie the game back up at 44-44.
Back-and-forth they went until the Johnnies extended their lead to six on jumpers from Mitchell Kuck and Chris Neumann. Saint John's would push the lead to as many as eight when Isaac Tapp cashed in from deep with the shot clock winding down to cut the lead to five at 64-59. Marx answered again on a three with a hand in his face, and the lead was pushed back to eight.
The Gusties then scored six straight points on a jumper from Tapp and a put back from Dick after he followed his own miss. A strong driving layup from Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.) cut the lead to two at 67-65 with 1:17 remaining in regulation. The Gustavus defense got the stop it needed on the ensuing possession and transitioned to the offensive end a chance to tie or take the lead. The Gusties had two chances on their next possession, but neither a three-point try from Tapp nor a free throw line jumper from Hill would go down. With that, Seth Marx hit two free throws and the 69-65 score became final.
The Gusties saw four players in double figures on the afternoon. Jim Hill led the way for the Black and Gold with 16 points. Blake Shay followed with 12 points, while Jordan Dick and Isaac Tapp chipped in 10 each. Dick also grabbed six rebounds. Gustavus also got nine points from Ben Biewen and a seven point, seven rebound effort from Reed Sallstrom.
The Johnnies were led by Seth Marx, who led all scorers with 32 points after shooting 9-for-13 from the field, 8-for-11 from three-point range, and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Marx also pulled down nine rebounds on the afternoon. Marx was joined in double figures by Chris Neumann with 12 points. Neumann also grabbed eight rebounds.
"We saw some good things today, but there were too many things that need to be fixed and we need to go about doing that," mentioned head coach Mark Hanson. "We have practice tomorrow to prepare for a game on Monday. I don't know that we want to completely shake this off because when you lose a couple of games, you can't just pretend it didn't happen. We have to make sure it is a learning process and that we get better."
The Gusties will travel to Northfield on Monday for an MIAC battle with the Oles of St. Olaf. Tip off set for 7:30 p.m.