ST. PAUL - After two straight weeks on the road, the St. Thomas men's basketball team returned to friendly confines for just the second time in eight games this season on Wednesday night at Schoenecker Arena. The return home proved valuable, as the Tommie men captured a hard-fought 64-51 win over Gustavus Adolphus, which was previously unbeaten in league play at 4-0.
With the win, St. Thomas lifts its record to an even 4-4 on the year, including a 2-2 mark in the MIAC, while the Gusties drop to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in league play. The Tommies will look to build momentum headed into the holiday break with their final game of the calendar year on Saturday at UW-Stevens Point.
On Wednesday, the Tommies opened the game with the first five points and never gave the lead back, as the Purple went on to lead for 39:21 of the 40-minute game. St. Thomas stretched its lead to as many as nine points (13-4) in the first half thanks to an eight-point spurt midway through the half.
The Gusties clawed back and cut the lead to one with 7:05 remaining in the opening frame, but an 11-5 run to end the half put the Tommies on top 30-23 headed to the half.
Efficient shooting to open the second half saw the Tommies out to a 13-point lead (42-29) at the 13:33 mark. Burt Hedstrom and John Veil each hit three-pointers that saw the lead grow from seven points to 13 and St. Thomas had its largest lead of the night up to that point.
But the Gusties would not go away quietly. After a layup by Ryan Boll pushed the St. Thomas lead to 10 points (46-36), back-to-back buckets by Gustavus' Jason Faul cut the Tommie lead to five, but on the ensuing possession, senior Tyler Potts stepped up and nailed a triple to answer and stop the run with 8:53 remaining in regulation.
From there, the Tommies maintained a comfortable lead. Gustavus came as close as seven in the final three and a half minutes, but St. Thomas finished the game on an 11-5 run, capped by consecutive Ryan Boll three-pointers to secure the win.
The Tommies used advantages in points off turnovers (22-4) and bench points (25-14) in the win. The Gusties committed just 13 turnovers, but the Tommies made each one count, scoring nearly two points per turnover. UST also won the rebound battle, grabbing 34 rebounds to Gustavus' 31, including an 11-8 edge in offensive boards.
Boll finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Tommies. Burt Hedstrom (12) and Tyler Potts (11) also finished in double-figure scoring for the Tommies. Hedstrom went 5-for-9 from the floor with a pair of treys and Potts added three triples.
Jacob Faul finished with a team-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting for Gustavus and also grabbed seven rebounds. Riley Sharbono was the only other Gustie to score in double figures with 12.
St. Thomas will next travel to Stevens Point, Wis., for a showdown with UW-Stevens Point on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7:00 pm.