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MIAC Men's Basketball Week Two: Keeping Pace

floated rightby Rich Mies, CSN Mapping the MIAC Columnist

The MIAC concluded the second week of its regular season with preseason favorite St. Thomas holding onto first place. They and Saint John’s are the lone teams unbeaten in conference play; SJU is half a game off the pace. Concordia closed out the week by handing Coach Rich Glas his first win in MIAC play, and Carleton assured itself possession of the storied Goat Trophy for at least another year. Now, the teams go on a three-week hiatus for final exams and holiday break before resuming the arduous schedule on January 3.

...

ST. THOMAS

The Tommies, who are off to their best start since 1994-95, won twice on the week to hold down first place. They hammered Augsburg 86-58 and battered Saint Mary’s 102-64 to improve to 4-0 in MIAC play and 7-0 overall.

After falling behind 5-0 against Augsburg, the Tommies erupted for a 28-6 run that broke the game open. They torched the net all night, canning 64.5% of their shots in the first half and improving to 65.5% in the second half. Their pressure defense forced 22 Auggie turnovers and notched 11 steals. Coach Steve Fritz emptied out the bench, using 15 players for at least four minutes each; 13 different players scored. Alex Healy led the way with 14 points off the bench. B.J. Viau added 12 points and Joe Scott chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The hot shooting continued on Wednesday. After Saint Mary’s took an early 4-3 lead, the Tommies ripped off a 10-0 spurt as part of a 28-8 run that broke the game open. UST led by as many as 24 in the first half and never let SMU within 20 the rest of the night. All 13 players saw the court, with 12 of them playing at least 10 minutes. The St. Thomas bench tallied 62 points. Every Tommie player scored at least three points as UST shot 54.9% from the field. They added 19-for-24 shooting from the line, and held a 39-26 edge off the glass. The Toms recorded 17 steals. It was the team’s 42nd consecutive win over SMU. Viau score 19 to lead UST, while Healy added 14 and Anders Halverson netted 13. Brett Tuma added nine points, three assists and four rebounds.

SAINT JOHN’S

The Johnnies won their only contest of the week, topping Macalester 69-44. The win improved SJU’s record to 3-0 in conference play and 4-3 overall.

SJU used a strong second half to pull away from Mac and cruise to the win. After struggling in the early going, the Johnnies found their offensive rhythm, particularly in the second half when they canned 62.5% of their shots. Aggressive defensive play limited Mac to 26.2% shooting for the night. SJU held a 40-31 edge in rebounding. Andy Burns provided the spark SJU needed, draining a long three-pointer at the horn to end the first half, giving SJU a 30-26 lead. He ended the night with 15 points, to go with seven assists and five steals. Todd Herman dropped in 14 points while Aaron Burtzel notched his second consecutive double-double. Burtzel scored 11 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

BETHEL

The Royals pulled away from Macalester on Monday to take home a 73-50 win. They improved to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in MIAC action.

For the first 15 minutes of play, the Royals and Mac battled closely, with Mac leading much of that stretch. Tim Madson drained a trey with 4:47 left in the first half to put Bethel on top for good. The shot ignited a 15-2 run to close the half. The defense did not allow Mac to get closer the rest of the way, and BU pushed the lead to as many as 20 during the second half. The Royals held a 42-30 edge in rebounds, and shot 44.3% from the field while limiting the Scots to 35.8% shooting. Mike Moberg led the attack with 15 points and 11 rebounds (nine off the defensive glass). Chris Vavra added 13 points off the bench, while Nathan Robertson tallied nine points and snagged seven boards.

CARLETON

The Knights bounced back, winning twice on the road on the week. They tipped Concordia 60-54 and retained possession of The Goat by downing St. Olaf 65-47. Carleton is now 2-1 in MIAC play and 5-1 overall.

Monday, the Knights shook off cold shooting in the first half to rally past Concordia. The first half was a tight battle and the Knights trailed 28-27 at the break. Concordia used an 8-0 run to pull ahead, but Carleton found its shooting groove, as they drained 52.2% of their shots in the second half. A pair of free throws by Bryan Rosett put the Knights on top for good and ignited a 9-0 run that helped them break away. Rosett finished with only five points but hauled in 12 rebounds, all defensive, to lead the Knights. Jeremy Sutherland led the scorers with 19 points, while Zach Johnson chipped in 18.

Each year, Carleton and cross-town nemesis St. Olaf battle for The Goat, a traveling trophy symbolic of supremacy in the rivalry. Entering 2008-09, the Goat was in the Carleton trophy case, where it has resided 18 of the previous 19 seasons. For the Goat to be moved to St. Olaf, the Oles must sweep the two meetings between the teams. With Wednesday’s win, the Knight assured that The Goat will not be moving this year. They never trailed, and limited St. Olaf to 23.3% shooting in the first half and 31.3% for the night. Carleton enjoyed a 47-35 edge off the glass. Johnson came through with a 23-point night, and doled out five assists. Rosett posted a double-double, scoring 14, with 13 rebounds.

AUGSBURG

The Auggies split a pair of MIAC games on the week, falling 86-58 to St. Thomas before bouncing back to tip Gustavus 52-50. By the end of the week, they were 2-1 in league play and 4-4 overall.

Monday, the Auggies could not overcome a withering St. Thomas defense, which forced 22 Augsburg turnovers. After taking an early 5-0 lead, the Auggies could not stop UST, which ran off a 28-6 run and later added an 18-7 run in the second half to seal the win. Augsburg shot well in the first half, connecting on 58.8% of their shots but was only able to take 17 shots. Jon Cassens led the way with 16 points and five assists. Nate Alm added 12 points and eight rebounds and Andy Grzesiak-Grimm chipped in 12 points with six boards.

Cassens drained a clutch lay-up with 3.5 seconds to play, lifting the Auggies to a 52-50 win at Gustavus on Wednesday. The Auggies built a ten-point lead in the first half (17-7), and took a five point lead into the intermission. They led much of the second half as well, but never by more than four over the final 10 minutes of play. They shot 50% in the second half and committed only 10 turnovers on the night. Alm led the attack with 18 points; Cassens added nine points and a team-best six rebounds.

GUSTAVUS

The Gusties went 1-1 on the week, topping Saint Mary’s 81-62 before falling to Augsburg 52-50. They head into the holiday break with a 2-1 record in league play and 3-3 overall.

Against Saint Mary’s, the Gusties never trailed. They staked out a 13 point lead in the first half, saw it dwindle to four before pushing it back to double figures. They did not let SMU closer than nine in the second half, shooting 56.3% for the stanza. Sam Paulson led the way with 19 points while Jesse Van Sickle added 18.

The Gusties trailed much of the game Wednesday, but kept within striking distance of Augsburg. With five minutes left to play, they took the lead on a pair of free throws by Andrew Hartman. The Auggies regained the lead but the Gusties were able to tie it twice in the final two minutes, including 50-50 with 0:31. But a lay-up with 3.5 seconds to go lifted Augsburg to the win. The Gusties struggled, shooting just 24.1% from the field in the first half and 33.3% for the game. Paulson was the lone Gustavus player in double figures with 10 points; he snagged seven rebounds as well.

HAMLINE

The Pipers had a light week, with only one game, a long road trip to Concordia on Saturday. They came up on the short end of a 77-66 final to end the 2008 portion of their schedule 3-4, and 2-2 in conference play.

Hamline took a pair of five point leads in the first half, but could not pull any further ahead. Concordia stormed off to an eight-point lead and led most of the game. Carl Hipp led the Pipers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Thrasher added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Eric Clute and Bobby Morrow chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.

SAINT MARY’S

The Cardinals had a rough week, losing at home to Gustavus (81-62) and St. Thomas (102-64) to fall to 1-3 in MIAC action and 2-6 overall.

Monday, SMU gave Gustavus a battle throughout the first half, but could not sustain the momentum into the second. After falling behind by 13, the Cards used an 11-2 run to claw back to within four, 31-27, with just over five minutes left in the first half. SMU could not get rolling in the second half, allowing Gustavus to pull away with the win. Will Wright led all scorers with 24 points. Josh Knights and Lukas Holland each chipped in 11 for SMU. The Cards committed just nine turnovers but were out-rebounded 39-27.

Wednesday, the Cards lost to St. Thomas for the 42nd consecutive time. They trailed from start to finish and shot just 39.0% from the floor. They were out-rebounded 39-26 and committed 27 turnovers. Holland led the attack with 21 points, while Wright chipped in 14 and Bradley Bruno added 10. Wright pulled down five rebounds to lead SMU off the glass.

ST. OLAF

The Oles dropped their only game of the week, falling 65-47 to Carleton, ending their hopes of reclaiming The Goat, which goes to the winner of the annual battles between the two Northfield rivals. The Oles are now 0-3 in conference play and 3-4 overall.

St. Olaf trailed the entire game, falling behind by as many as 17 in the first half before pulling within 12 (29-17) by the half. The Oles shot a frigid 23.3% from the floor in the first half and connected on just three of 18 three-pointers (16.7%) for the game. Matt Christensen and Mark Wieloch were the only Oles to reach double figures in scoring, with 20 points each. Nate Krosschell grabbed nine rebounds to go with his eight points.

CONCORDIA

The Cobbers went 1-1 on the week, losing 60-54 to Carleton before getting their first MIAC win of the year, beating Hamline 77-66.

On Monday, the Cobbers and Carleton waged a hard-fought, close battle, particularly the first half, which ended with the Cobbers up by one. Concordia launched the second half with an 8-0 run. But the Knights stormed back and pulled away in the final minutes, using an 11-0 run to break away. Ryan Hagemeyer led the Concordia attack with 11 points, while John Fraase grabbed 14 rebounds and scored eight points.

Saturday, the Cobbers notched their first MIAC win of the season, using an 18-8 run over the final seven minutes to pull away for the win. Hot shooting in the second half (56.5%) was a key to the win. Concordia used a balanced attack, with four players in double figures. They were led by Hartman, who scored 16, to go with his four assists and three steals. Darrin Olmscheid added 14 points and Cody Dyshaw added 10 points. Fraase chipped in 10 points and snared 11 boards.

MACALESTER

The Scots struggles continued, as they dropped a pair of home games on the week. Cold shooting led to a 73-50 loss to Bethel and a 69-44 loss to Saint John’s. Macalester is now 0-4 in MIAC play and 0-8 on the season.

Monday, the Scots jumped out to an early 8-3 lead and led Bethel most of the opening 15 minutes. Icy shooting (25.0%) in the second half coupled with tough defensive play by BU limited the Scots to 18 points in the half. Kyle Hamblett led the way with 18 points. Colin Keeley chipped in 13 points and a team-leading eight rebounds. Nate Assel doled out six assists.

The Scots’ shooting woes continued on Wednesday, as they connect on just two of 21 three-point attempts and shot 26.2% from the floor. The defense was able to force 21 SJU turnovers to keep the Scots in the game for the first 30 minutes before SJU pulled away. Hamblett led the way with 13 points and four steals. Keeley added 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

* * *

2008-09 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Standings
Through games of December 13, 2008 (All games)

                     Conference  Overall   
  Team                    W  L    W  L    
  ----                    -  -    -  -   
  Univ. of St. Thomas     4  0    7  0   
  Saint John's University 3  0    4  3    
  Bethel University       2  1    7  1  
  Carleton College        2  1    5  1 
  Augsburg College        2  1    4  4 
  Gustavus Adolphus Coll  2  1    3  3    
  Hamline University      2  2    3  4       
  Saint Mary’s Univ       1  3    2  6  
  Concordia College       1  3    3  5    
  St. Olaf College        0  3    3  4  
  Macalester College      0  4    0  8