St. Peter, Minn. - The Gustavus Adolphus men's basketball team saw its three-game winning streak come to an end on Monday night following a 70-66 loss to St. Olaf at Gus Young Court. After building a 10-point lead midway through the first half, the Gusties could not hang on in a second half that saw the two teams go down to the wire. In the end, the Oles made good on 5-of-5 free throw attempts in the last in the last :46 of play to hang on for the narrow four-point victory. Gustavus drops to 9-7 (7-5 MIAC) while St. Olaf improves to 6-11 (5-7 MIAC).
After sloppy play from both teams early in the contest, the Gusties built a 10-point lead on a Brody Ziegler (Fr., Mankato, Minn.) tip-in at the 4:52 mark of the first half to bring the score to 29-19. Following the basket by Ziegler, St. Olaf went on to finish the half on an 11-6 run, capped off by a Sterling Nielsen deep three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired. The buzzer-beater from Nielsen cut the Gustavus lead to five points with a halftime score of 35-30.
The Gusties outrebounded the Oles in the opening frame with a 21-8 advantage, but nine turnovers led to nine points for St. Olaf in the first 20 minutes compared to Gustavus' two. The disparity in points off turnovers allowed the Oles to remain within striking distance headed to the break.
Isaac Tapp (So., Stewartville, Minn.) kicked off the scoring in the second half with a layup on the first possession, but the Oles came firing back with a 9-2 run that tied the game at 39 apiece just 1:50 into the final 20 minutes.
The two squads went back-and-forth over the next 15 minutes. The score was tied four times during that span. The Gusties were able to stretch their lead to as many as five on two separate occasions, but could not hang on to those leads. St. Olaf came clawing back to take a one-point lead with 3:32 remaining when a tipped pass found its way through traffic to Nathan Kuck, who converted on a reverse layup to make the score 65-64.
There would not be another point scored for nearly three minutes. After a Jordan Dick (Jr., Wabasha, Minn.) missed three-pointer, the Oles got three possessions for the price of one with two offensive rebounds on the ensuing trip down the floor. However, St. Olaf was unable to cash in on the extra possessions and Gustavus had a chance to take the lead.
After the Gusties failed to score on their next offensive possession, they gave up two more offensive rebounds to St. Olaf that allowed the Oles to wind the clock down to under one minute. Even so, the Gustie defense forced Kuck into a heave from well beyond three-point range as the shot-clock expired, but he was fouled on the play and made the last of three free throws to push the score to 66-64. Tapp had a chance to tie it up with a driving layup, but it was too strong and Gustavus was forced to foul. From there, St. Olaf would make its last four free throws to seal the four-point victory.
Gustavus held the slight advantage on the glass, outrebounding St. Olaf 31-27. However, the Gusties turned the ball over 13 times, compared to nine for the Oles. After scoring nine points in the opening half, the Ole reserves came alive in the second frame with 19 points. The Gustavus bench scored just six points in the second half, which gave St. Olaf the advantage in bench points 28-20.
Four Gusties scored in double-figures on the night. Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.) led the way with 15 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line. He also added 10 rebounds to register his second double-double of the season. Isaac Tapp and Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.) came next with 12 points each and Brody Ziegler came off the bench to chip in a career-high 10 points. He also grabbed six rebounds.
The Gusties will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Arden Hills for a showdown with Bethel. Opening tip set for 7:30 p.m.