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MIAC Men's Basketball Week Two: Snow, Excitement and OTs

floated rightby Rich Mies, CSN Mapping the MIAC Columnist

After a week that featured a massive snowfall, two overtime games and a huge rally coming up short, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference closed the second week of league play with perennial powers Gustavus and St. Thomas threatening to pull away from the pack. They are the last unbeaten teams in conference play. All nine games on the week were loaded with drama and action, and only one game was postponed due to the nasty combination of nearly a foot of new snow mixed with gale-force winds. The MIAC takes a three-week break from league play for final exams and the holidays, but resumes play January 2 with a full slate of intra-conference battles.

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FEATURED GAME

ST. THOMAS 77, AUGSBURG 61

The Tommies closed the game with a 19-5 run, thwarting a rally by the Auggies to take home a 77-61 in Monday’s marquee matchup. St. Thomas, which never trailed, won its 28th consecutive MIAC game and extended its regular season win streak to 32.

Augsburg pulled within a bucket with 8:02 to play before UST’s trapping defense forced turnovers on four of the next five Auggie possessions. They clamped down, holding Augsburg scoreless for 3:30, and limited the Auggies to five points in the final eight minutes. Offensively, Sam Eicher and Teddy Archer each tallied six points during the final run, with Tyler Nicolai dropping in five. (Hear Eicher talk about that run and the game here)

The game featured the last two MIAC teams without a loss on the season. It started as a defensive battle, with neither team scoring until UST’s Joe Scott drained a three-pointer with 18:22 to play in the first half. Augsburg tied the game on two occasions over the next seven minutes before the Tommies erupted for a 10-0 run midway through the first half. Josh Peltier kicked off that run with a nifty layup, and Scott dropped in a pair of threes, putting UST in control, 21-11. Scott, who finished the night with 21 points, scored 16 in the first half, including an NBA-range trey that gave UST its largest lead of the half, 31-17. That was one of five triples for Scott on the night. The Tommies took a 38-27 lead into the intermission. (Listen to Scott’s comments on the game here)

Augsburg regrouped at the half, and opened the second stanza with a 10-4 spurt to pull within five, That run was punctuated by an all-net three-pointer by Jon Cassens, who finished the game with 13 points, all in the second half. (Hear Cassens discuss game here)

St. Thomas pulled back to a nine-point lead, but the Auggies continued to chip away. A trey by Cassens and a tip-in by Marcus Brumm highlighted an 8-2 run that cut UST’s lead to two, 57-55. Then the Tommies turned the defense up a couple of notches, and broke the game open. (Hear UST Coach Steve Fritz talk about the win here)

UST shot 50.0% for the game, including 58.3% in the second half. They drained 4.1% of their three-pointers and were a sizzling 11-for-13 (84.6%) from the charity stripe. The Tommies held a 34-30 edge off the glass and posted 14 steals, while committing just 11 turnovers. Scott led the Tommies with 21 points, while Eicher add 14 and Alex Healy chipped in 10 points off the bench. Healy’s six rebounds led UST, while Scott, Eicher and Josh Pedretti each pulled down five boards. Archer nabbed five steals while doling out four assists.

Augsburg was led by Ben Flavin, who dropped in 14 points, including four three-pointers. Cassens and Ben Sorenson each tallied 13 points. The Auggies drained 50.0% of their shots in the second half as part of a 41.2% shooting effort for the game. They canned 46.7% of their three-pointers and were 12-of-18 (66.7%) from the line. Brumm pulled down five rebounds to lead Augsburg off the glass, with Andy Grzesiak-Grimm, Cory Polta and Anthony Humphrey each grabbing four rebounds.

St. Thomas was slated to play Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, but that game was postponed until January 11 due to the winter storm. UST improves to 3-0 in MIAC play and 6-0 overall. The Tommies, currently ranked third in the nation, play a pair of non-conference games before returning to MIAC action at Macalester on January 2.

AROUND THE MIAC

DECEMBER 7

BETHEL 73, MACALESTER 55

The Royals, who led from start to finish, used a 20-9 run late in the first half to pull away to a 73-55 win over the Scots. The win was Bethel’s first in MIAC play.

Bethel, behind a balanced attack, was led by 15 points from Chris Vavra and 14 from Greg Meyer. Nate Robertson pulled down nine rebounds, eight on the defensive board, as the Royals held a 35-28 edge off the glass. Five Bethel players grabbed four rebounds. BU’s defense limited the Scots to 35.4% shooting on the night, while the Royals converted 50.0% of their shots. Bethel shot 55.6% in the opening stanza.

Paul Richie and Kyle Hamblett paced Macalester with 15 points each. Colin Keeley added 10 points and five rebounds off the bench. Jerry Kraus chipped in with eight rebounds.

The game was a tight battle the opening 11 minutes, with Mac staying within striking range. They were down by a basket with 9:03 left in the first half when Bethel exploded. Zak Mathson hit a short jumper, and Vavra followed with a three, kicking off the Royals’ big run. Vavra posted eight points in the 20-9 spurt, with Robertson adding four points in the run.

Mac pulled within nine early in the second half but a second 20-9 run sealed the win for Bethel. The Royals extended their lead to as many as 21 as they coasted down the stretch.

The win was Bethel’s last MIAC game of 2009; they play a pair of non-conference games before the holiday break. The Royals improve to 1-2 in league play and 5-3 overall. They resume MIAC play on January 2, hosting Concordia.

CONCORDIA 55, CARLETON 46

The Cobbers, behind 7 points from Karl Olson, snapped a two-game losing streak with a 55-46 decision over the visiting Knights. Olson sealed the win by draining six consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds of play.

Concordia committed only five turnovers and posted nine steals, which negated Carleton’s 35-31 rebounding advantage and atoned for 35.8% shooting from the field. The Cobbers were a frosty 25.0% from three-point range, including 0-for-8 in the second half. The Knights were nearly as cold, converting 41.7% of their shots and only 30.0% from behind the arc. Carleton committed 15 turnovers and connected on only 33.3% (two-of-six) of its free throws.

Olson was the lone Cobber in double figures. Darrin Olmscheid added eight points and John Fraase chipped in seven points and team highs of seven rebounds and three steals.

Carter Biewen and Seth Jonker each tallied 11 points to lead Carleton. Jonker added five rebounds. Bryan Rosett finished with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds, all defensive. He became the 12th Knight to reach the 600-rebound plateau in his career.

Concordia built a 22-11 lead six minutes before the intermission and took a 28-23 lead into the break. Carleton chipped away and took its first lead, 34-33, on a three-pointer by Jonker midway through the second half. Jonker followed with a layup to push Carleton’s lead to three.

The lead changed hands several times over the next nine minutes before Johnathon Molina came up with a steal and traditional three-point play with 1:40 remaining, putting Concordia in the lead for good, 47-44. On the Cobbers’ next possession, Fraase scored a basket in the paint. Carleton’s Biewen responded with a three-pointer, but Olson followed that with his steely performance from the charity stripe.

GUSTAVUS 80, SAINT MARY’S 77

The Gusties held off a furious rally by the Cardinals and escaped with an 80-77 win. In a game of two halves, the Gusties dominated the first stanza, but saw SMU tally 53 second half points. Clutch free throw shooting by Tyler Grey and Phil Wirtjes in the final 20 seconds preserved the win.

Gustavus dominated play in the first half, posting a 47-24 lead. They canned 54.3% of their shots in the half including five of 10 from beyond the arc. Jesse Van Sickle dropped in 19 first half points, en route to a 21 point night. The Gusties held a 24-11 edge off the glass for the half, and seemed poised to win a laugher.

GAC continued to sizzle in the second half, draining 59.1% of their shots. However, they were limited to 22 attempts.

The Cardinals had other ideas, as they came out of the intermission on fire and drained 68.0% of their shots, up from 34.8% in the first half. They held onto the rock, committing only three second half turnovers. Will Wright and Chris Palmer led the second half surge. Wright scored 18 in the stanza, while Palmer tallied 14. SMU was an eye-popping 16-for-18 from the charity stripe in the second half.

The Gusties held a 15-point lead with nine minutes remaining, before SMU made its final push. A layup by Zach Miller kicked off a 22-8 run that made the game exciting, pulling SMU within one, 76-75, with 0:18 remaining. Gustavus sandwiched four free throws around a pair of charity tosses by Holland to take an 80-77 advantage. Holland got off a potential game-tying buzzer-beater that refused to fall, allowing the GAC faithful to exhale and savor the win.

For the game, Van Sickle’s 21 points led GAC, while Adam Michel came off the bench to tally 13. Ryan McPartland and Paul Blacklock each tallied 10 points, while Dan Schmidtknecht dished out seven assists. McPartland added five rebounds and Blacklock pulled down four.

Wright’s 22 points led Saint Mary’s. He added three assists and a pair of steals. Palmer finished with 18 points off the bench, with five rebounds. Lukas Holland scored nine points and had a team-best six rebounds.

Saint Mary’s was slated to travel to St. Thomas on Wednesday but was snowbound. The Cardinals, 2-1 in league play and 4-3 overall have a non-conference date with cross-town foe Winona State and resume MIAC play on January 2, hosting Saint John’s.

ST. OLAF 75, HAMLINE 68

The Oles topped the Pipers 75-68 behind 27 points from Mark Torell and as sizzling outing at the free-throw line. St. Olaf drained 20 of 21 charity shots to post their first MIAC win of the season.

The Oles also held a 36-35 edge off the glass and committed just eight turnovers. However, they were frigid from three-point range, going 3-for-12 in the first half and 2-for-13 in the second to finish at 20.0%. They connected on 38.5% of their shots from the field. Hamline shot better (46.4%) but 14 turnovers and repeatedly sending St. Olaf to the line proved to be HU’s undoing.

Torell, who was five-for-five from the line and 0-for-five from three-point range, added five rebounds to his 27 points. Stu Neville posted a double-double, scoring 15 while grabbing a team-best 10 rebounds. Alfred Jaryan, who was perfect in 10 tries from the line, finished with 12 points. He added three assists.

For Hamline, Carl Hipp posted another double-double, scoring 20 points and snaring 11 rebounds. Ray Brown scored a team-high 23 points, while Nick Carroll added five points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The teams traded leads through the first seven minutes of play before the Oles took a 13-11 lead at 13:20. They extended that to as many as nine before settling for a 38-35 lead at the half. .

Hamline gained a momentary lead five minutes into the second half as Hipp made a lay-up giving them a 47-46 edge. That evaporated moments later as Neville netted a three-pointer. That ignited a 12-5 run, giving St. Olaf a 58-52 lead. The Pipers fought back and tied the game on a layup by Victor Easter with 4:36 to play. The game seesawed over the next three minutes but the Oles were perfect on 14 free throws over the final 2:32 to wrap up the win.

DECEMBER 9

GUSTAVUS 77, AUGSBURG 72 (OVERTIME)

The Gusties rallied from a seven-point deficit to force overtime and outgunned the Auggies in the extra period to take home a 77-72 win. The win lifts GAC into first place, half a game ahead of idle St. Thomas. The Gusties improve to 4-0 in MIAC play.

Augsburg’s Ben Flavin drained two three-pointers in the final 10 seconds of the overtime, but the Phil Wirtjes sank a pair of free throws with 0:03 left to seal the win. Wirtjes earlier drained a pair of free throws with 0:11 remaining in regulation to force the OT.

A key to the win was GAC’s 41-29 dominance off the glass. Augsburg committed just seven turnovers to 15 by Gustavus. A second key was free throws, as Gustavus canned 16-of-21 from the line. Interestingly, GAC did not go to the line in the first half, but was eight-for-nine (88.9%) in the second half and eight-of-12 in the overtime. Augsburg shot 75% from the stripe but only made 12 trips to the line.

The Gusties were a chilly 33.3% from the floor in the first half but sizzled in the second, connecting on 66.7% and then were a perfect four-for-four in the OT. The Auggies’ shooting was similar, as they were at 32.12% in the first half and 52.0% in the second. However, they were just four-for-10 in the OT.

Seth Anderson connected on eight of 12 shots to finish with a team-leading 18 points for GAC. Ryan McPartland, who was scoreless in the first half, ended up with 17 points. He also had seven rebounds. Wirtjes closed the game with 13 points, including six-of-six free throws, and added four assists. Jesse Van Sickle tallied 10 points, while Paul Blacklock added nine points and a game-leading 12 rebounds.

Gustavus pounded to an 18-8 lead in the opening minutes, but the Auggies rallied and used a 15-6 run to close the half, pulling them within a point, 24-23. Flavin capped that run with a booming three with 2:17 left in the half, but neither team was able to score after that.

With the score tied midway through the second half, Augsburg used a 92 spurt to stake out a 52-45 lead. Gustavus rallied and tied the game on a pair of free throws by Anderson. Augsburg used four consecutive free throws by Brett Sorenson and Jon Cassens to build a 61-57 lead, but GAC countered with a layup by Blacklock before Wirtjes sank his first pair of clutch charity tosses to force the overtime.

The Gusties improve to 6-1 on the season and have a pair of non-conference games in Hawaii before resuming MIAC action on January 4.

Augsburg falls to 1-2 in MIAC play and 4-2 overall. They also head to a warmer climate, playing a non-conference game in Puerto Rico. They also host a non-conference game over the holidays and return to league play, traveling to St. Olaf on January 2.

SAINT JOHN’S 71, MACALESTER 54

The Johnnies used hot shooting to breeze past the Scots 71-54 and move into a tie for third place in the MIAC. The loss was Macalester’s 32nd consecutive in MIAC play.

SJU shot 50.9% from the field for the game, including a 17-for-32 (53.1%) showing in the second half. The Jays were five-for-10 from three-point land and posted 12 steals. Saint John’s had a commanding 36-20 edge in points in the paint and led from wire to wire.

Four players reached double figures for SJU, led by Andy Burns with 14, of which 10 came in the first half. He added three steals and six assists. Aaron Burtzel tallied 11 points, with six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Sam Blank added 11 points and Nermin Hujdurovic tallied 10, both off the bench. Aaron Barmore grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, while Chris Schwartz tallied nine points, with four boards, four assists and three steals.

Macalester shot 50.0% in the second half, warming up from 33.3% in the first stanza. They held a 32-29 edge in rebounding, but were done in by 19 turnovers. Pierce Peters led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds. Jerry Kraus added 12 points and five rebounds.

The Johnnies found the net on their first four shots, all three-pointers, to open a 13-8 lead. They quickly extended that to 15, behind a 13-3 run which was fueled by seven points from Burns. The Johnnies took a 31-19 lead into the intermission.

Mac pulled within five with 4:44 to play as Pierce drilled a three-pointer. SJU closed the game with a 15-3 outburst, wrapping up their 19th home win over the Scots in the past 20 years.

With the win, SJU closes out the 2009 portion of its schedule. They are 2-1 in MIAC play and 5-3 overall. After a three-week hiatus, they return to the court at Saint Mary’s on January 2.

Macalester slips to 0-4 in conference play and 1-5 overall. They host three non-conference games over the holiday break and resume MAIC play on January 2, hosting St. Thomas.

ST. OLAF 80, CARLETON 77 (OVERTIME)

The Oles moved closer to taking possession of the Goat Trophy, symbolic of superiority in the cross-town rivalry, with an overtime squeaker over the Knights. To gain custody of the legendary trophy, the Oles must win the rematch on Feb. 1. More importantly, the win lifted St. Olaf into a tie for third place in the MIAC and dropped Carleton to a tie for ninth place.

Carleton controlled the tempo in the early going, building a 13-3 lead over the first six minutes behind a barrage of three-pointers. They ran their lead to a dozen on a layup by Seth Jonker with 8:54 left in the half, but the Oles countered with an 11-3 surge to trim the gap to four. Carleton responded with a 12-4 spurt and seemed to take control of the game. That carried them into the break with a 42-35 lead.

St. Olaf chipped away at the lead over the first nine minutes of the second half. They broke to a 22-10 run in the middle of the second half. St. Olaf took the lead for the first time on a pair of free throws by Stu Neville at the 10:34 mark as part of that rally. Alfred Jaryan capped the big run with a triple to give the Oles a 64-59 lead with 7:30 to play.

Three minutes later, Carleton recaptured the lead on a trey by Blaise Davis. They lead changed hands four times after that before Jaryan had a chance to win the game in regulation with a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds left. Trailing by one, Jaryan made the first throw but missed the second. He then stole the in-bounded pass and shot a three-pointer as time expired but it missed, sending the game into OT.

The Knights drew first blood in the overtime as Jeremy Sutherland rippled the net on a jumper. St. Olaf tied it on a layup by Mark Torell and took the lead for good on a jumper by Neville. They pushed the margin to five on a three from Torell. Sutherland drained a pair of free throws with 2:00 remaining to make it 80-77. Both teams missed a pair of three-pointers over the final minutes.

Four players reach double figures for the Oles. Torell led the way with 21 points and added three assists, a block and a steal. Neville chipped in 16 points and six rebounds. Nate Krosschell and Jaryan each added 15 points before fouling out. Krosschell posted a team-leading eight rebounds while Jaryan had three assists, two steals and a block.

Carleton also had four men reach double figures. Jonker led the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Sutherland, Davis and Bryan Rosett each tallied 12 points. Sutherland dished out six assists, along with a pair of steals and a block. Davis doled out three assists and Rosett grabbed eight rebounds. Carter Biewen added nine points and five rebounds.

St. Olaf improves to 2-1 in MIAC play and 4-3 overall. The Oles step out of MIAC action to play Division I North Dakota but return to league play on January 2, hosting Augsburg.

The loss drops Carleton to 1-2 in conference play. The Knights are now 4-4 overall. They next take the court January 2 at Hamline.

DECEMBER 12

CONCORDIA 74, HAMLINE 61

The Cobbers used a strong defensive effort in the second half to pull away from the Pipers and claiming a 74-61 win. They limited Hamline to 32.4% shooting in the second half and 35.8% for the day.

Karl Olson, who tallied 18 points, paced Concordia. He had an eight-for-eight performance from the free throw line and added three assists. John Fraase chipped in 16 points, with eight rebounds and five assists. Darrin Olmscheid added 12 points, six boards and a pair of steals. Jonathon Molina tallied 11 points, with six rebounds and two steals.

Ray Brown, who posted his first MIAC double-double, led Hamline. He scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also doled out three assists, had three steals and blocked two shots. Joining him in double figures was Carl Hipp with 12 points. Hipp added seven rebounds and a block.

Both teams took care of the ball, with Hamline committing only 10 turnovers and Concordia just eight.

The teams battled and scrapped for the first half with the Cobbers taking a tenuous 33-30 lead into the intermission. The first seven minutes of the second half were also tightly contested, with three ties, including a 46-46 knot at the 12:L49 mark. Molina hit a three, kicking off a 16-1 run that broke the game open.

With the win, Concordia improves to 2-2 in league play and 5-3 overall. They have one non-conference game in the coming week, and then enjoy a two-week break before traveling to Bethel on January 2.

The loss drops Hamline to 1-3, tied for ninth in the MIAC. Overall, the Pipers are 3-4 on the season and head to Thousand Oaks, CA for a holiday tourney. They return to league play on January 2, hosting Carleton.