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MIAC Men's Basketball: Hot Action on a Frigid Day
by Rich Mies, CSN Mapping the MIAC Columnist
The members of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference returned to the basketball courts for league play after a nearly three-week hibernation. Despite frigid temperatures, the league got the 2010 portion of its schedule off to a rousing start. Reigning champion St. Thomas sizzled en route to a 76-52 win over Macalester. Saint John’s kept pace with a 69-62 win at Saint Mary’s. Augsburg toppled St. Olaf 77-64 and Hamline tipped Carleton 77-65. In the day’s nightcap, Concordia used a strong second half to breeze by Bethel, 68-53.
The week ahead will be one of the busiest on the MIAC calendar, with a full slate of games scheduled on Monday and Wednesday nights and again on Saturday afternoon.
ST. THOMAS 76, MACALESTER 52
The Tommies used a balanced attack and their deep bench to batter the Scots 76-52. The win was UST’s 29th consecutive in MIAC play and moved them into a tie for first place with idle Gustavus.
Tyler Nicolai paced UST with 17 points, as 13 of 17 Tommies who saw action scored at least one basket, with no player seeing more than 20 minutes of action. Joe Scott added 12 points, and Anders Halverson finished with eight points and a team-best four rebounds.
Brady Ervin and Tommy Hannon each recorded three steals, part of UST’s 18 steals on the day. Conversely, the Toms committed only 10 turnovers. UST shot 61.5% from the floor in the first half and 53.6% for the day.
Macalester’s Paul Richie drained five of eight three point attempts as part of a game-best 21 point outing. Pierce Peters chipped in 13 points. Jerry Kraus had game highs with six rebounds and four assists, and added six points. The Scots held a 30-25 edge off the glass, but were hurt by 29 turnovers. Mac canned 52.4% of its shots in the first half and finished the day shooting at a 48.7% clip.
The Scots led much of the first eight minutes, and tied the game 13-13 on a layup by Colin Keeley at the 12:30 mark of the first stanza. However, a long try by Alex Healy gave UST the lead for good, and ignited a 20-7 run that broke the game open. The Tommies took a 40-27 lead into the intermission, which was fueled by a 23-4 edge in points off turnovers. St. Thomas opened the second half with a 20-8 run, ending any hope of a rally by the Scots, who were unable to get closer than 21 the rest of the way.
The loss, Macalester’s 33rd consecutive in MIAC play, drops them to 0-5 in conference play and 2-8 overall. The Scots return to action on Monday, hosting Gustavus. They travel to Concordia on Wednesday and close out the week by hosting Augsburg on Saturday.
With the win, St. Thomas improves to 4-0 in league play and 8-1 on the season. The Tommies are idle on Monday, but kick off a grueling five games in 10 days by hosting Bethel on Wednesday. They travel to Carleton on Saturday to round out the week.
SAINT JOHN’S 69, SAIN MARY’S 62
The Johnnies held off a furious rally by the Cardinals to take home a 69-62 win. The win allowed SJU to take sole possession of third place, while dropping SMU into a tie for fifth.
Winona-native Sam Blank, who torched the net for 22 points, paced Saint John ’s. Aaron Burtzel posted his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 16 point and grabbing 13 rebounds. He also added five assists. Nine different Johnnies scored, as SJU shot 62.5% from the field in the second half and 52.7% for the game. Saint John’s held a 35-34 edge in rebounds. Andy Burns doled out a game high seven assists for SJU. The Johnnies outscored SMU 36-18 in the paint.
Saint Mary’s was hurt by cold shooting, as they connected on just 30.4% of their shots in the first half. They warmed up in the second, draining 46.9%, for a 40.0% effort on the day. Will Wright led the way, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He also notched five steals and handed out three assists. Chris Palmer added 13 points and seven boards, while Lukas Holland chipped in 12 points and six rebounds. The Cardinals drained five of 10 send half three-point attempts and converted 40.0% of their treys on the day.
Saint John’s took an early 16-8 lead, but Saint Mary’s retaliated with a 9-1 run to tie the game with 5:43 left in the first half. SJU closed the half with a 14-6 burst to take a 31-23 lead into the intermission.
SMU pulled within six on the three by Wright early in the second half. Back-to-back layups by Blank ignited a 13-2 run by the Jays, stretching their lead to 49-32. The Cards put together a 13-4 outburst late in the second half, capped by a booming three by Holland to pull within five. SJU rebuffed the rally, scoring five quick points to regain a 10-point lead, and sealed the win with four free throws by Aaron Barmore and Blank in the final minute.
Saint John’s improves to 3-1 in MIAC play and 6-3 on the year. The Johnnies have a full week ahead, playing at St. Olaf on Monday before returning home to host Augsburg on Wednesday and Concordia on Saturday.
The loss drops Saint Mary’s to 2-2 in conference action and 4-5 on the season. The Cards host Carleton in a Monday tilt, and then travel to Hamline on Wednesday before enjoying a bye on Saturday.
AUGSBURG 77, ST. OLAF 64
The Auggies, behind a balanced attack that featured five players scoring in double figures, rolled past the Oles 77-64. Augsburg never trailed in the game, dominating play from start to finish.
Augsburg torched the net in the first half, draining 53.6% of their shots, including six of nine from three-point land. The defensive play limited St. Olaf to 21.6% shooting in the first half and 34.7% for the day.
Ben Flavin and Jon Cassens led the attack. The duo each scored 14 points, with Flavin adding six assists. He drained four of five from behind the arc. Cassens was seven of seven from the charity line. Cory Polta added 12 points and team-leading nine rebounds, while Andy Grzesiak-Grimm tallied 12 points off the bench. David Olson chipped in 10 points.
Mark Torrell’s 17 points led the Oles, who held a 40-37 edge in rebounds. Nate Krosschell posted a double-double, scoring 12 and grabbing a dozen boards. Stu Neville added 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, a pair of blocks and two steals. The Oles committed only eight turnovers, but could only find the net five times in 20 tries from three-point range.
The Auggies opened the game with a barrage of three-pointers, two by Flavin one each by Olson and Brett Sorenson, to stake a 17-5 lead. They never looked back, and pushed the lead to 20 with 5:38 left in the first half. They took a 42-22 lead into the intermission and maintained that margin the first 10 minutes of the second stanza. The Oles erupted on a 13-2 run midway through the stanza to close within nine (62-53), but the Auggies put the game on ice by draining all eight free throws they took in the final minutes, with Cassens rippling the net on six of those.
Augsburg is now 2-2 in conference action and 7-2 overall. The Auggies host Concordia on Monday and close out the week on road, playing at Saint John’s Wednesday and at Macalester on Saturday.
St. Olaf drops to 2-2 in MIAC games and 4-5 on the season. The Oles host Saint John’s on Monday and Bethel on Saturday, while traveling to Gustavus on Wednesday.
HAMLINE 77, CARLETON 65
The Pipers pulled away to a 77-65 win over the Knights on the strength of 60.0% shooting from three-point range and a strong all-around effort in the second half.
Ray Brown tallied 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, and Noah Aguirre tallied all of his 13 points in the second stanza to pace Hamline. Carl Hipp added a double-double, scoring 16 while grabbing 12 rebounds. Jordan Schmidt chipped in 11 points while doling out four assists and Dan Andersen tallied 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Hamline held a 42-37 edge off the glass and the Pipers’ defense limited Carleton to 35.5% shooting on the day.
Carleton had four players reach double figures. Bryan Rosett, who joined the school’s 1,000-point club over the holidays, led the way with 19 points. Seth Jonker added 17 points, while Jeremy Sutherland and Carter Biewen each chipped in 11. Biewen added eight rebounds and three assists, while Sutherland dished out four assists and nabbed six rebounds.
The Knights took an early 16-6 lead, but the Pipers closed the stanza with a 24-12 run to take a 30-28 lead at the half. Hipp tallied eight points in that run. The Knights rebuilt a 39-34 advantage over the opening five minutes of the second half. Hamline immediately countered with a 10-0 burst, fueled by treys from Aguirre and Brown and a conventional three-point play by Hipp. They increased their lead to 10 on a triple by Aguirre and held on to the lead the rest of the way.
Hamline improves to 2-3 in MIAC play and 6-4 overall. The pipers are on the road Monday at Bethel and Saturday at Gustavus, with a home date with Saint Mary’s in between.
The Knights fall to 1-4 in league play and 5-5 on the year. Carleton travels to Saint Mary’s on Monday. They enjoy a bye on Wednesday and return to action Saturday, hosting St. Thomas.
CONCORDIA 68, BETHEL 53
The Cobbers controlled play in the paint and was dominant the second half, running away to a 68-53 win at Bethel.
Concordia monopolized action off the glass, out-rebounding the Royals 40-20. Their defense limited BU to 25.9% shooting in the second half and kept the Royals scoreless from behind the arc in the stanza. Concordia shot a steady 46.8% for the night, including 48.0% in the first half and 45.5% in the second. John Fraase posted a monster line, scoring 16 with 18 rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal. He drained six of 10 shots and was perfect in four tries form the line. Darrin Olmscheid tallied the Cobbers first eight points of the game en route to a 15-point game. Jonathan Molina and Karl Olson each tallied 11 points.
Bethel was paced by Chris Vavra and Taylor Hall, who each tallied 11 points. Vavra dished out four assists. Chris Breuer had a team-leading five rebounds to go with his four points. The Royals shot a toasty 51.9% from the field in the first half but their shooting hands turned to ice in the second stanza.
Concordia broke to first half leads of 18-11 and 31-21, and seemed poised to break the game open both times. However, Bethel battled back each time and was able to forge a 33-33 tie at the half. The Cobbers opened the second half with a 21-6 run, and this time BU was unable to get back into the game. They held the Royals scoreless for 7:06 of that stretch as they pulled away for the win.
With the win, Concordia is now 3-2 in league play and in sole possession of fourth place. Overall, they are 7-3. The Cobbers have a full week ahead, playing at Augsburg on Monday, hosting Macalester on Wednesday and traveling to Saint John’s for a Saturday tilt.
The loss drops Bethel to 1-3 in MIAC action and 5-4 overall. The Royals host Hamline on Monday and close out the week on the road, playing at St. Thomas and St. Olaf.