Tommie Sports - Women's Basketball

Gene's Blog: WBB school record keys busy Saturday

February 07, 2011

Action pic
Sarah Smith's recent blocked shot against Bethel is among 49 by the Toms in their current five-game win streak. (Greg Smith photo)

It was a hectic Saturday Feb. 5 with nine Tommie sports teams in action. We're still sorting out some of the developments:

Block Party

The Tommie women’s basketball team broke a 20-year-old school record in Saturday’s 61-50 home victory over St. Catherine.

Coach Ruth Sinn’s Tommies blocked 15 shots. That snapped the record of 14 set by the 1990-91 NCAA champion team in a victory over Bethel. It’s also the most by a conference team -– women or men -- in the last 10 seasons.

In three games last week, all wins, the Tommies blocked 35 shots.

On Saturday, UST’s Jazmin Townsend had a career-best five blocks, Rachel Booth added four, and Maggie Weiers had three. The Tommies have allowed 55 or less points in 10 of their 21 games.

St. Thomas went 5-0 in an 11-day stretch from Jan. 26 through Saturday and now shares the conference lead with St. Ben’s. UST is 30-7 in February games over the last five seasons and will look for a strong finish this month in its last four regular-season games.

In 107 career games -- including 57 in two seasons playing at St. Cloud State -- Tommie senior Rachel Booth now has 1,394 points and 734 rebounds.

999 and Counting

Tommie men’s basketball has won 999 games over the last 57 seasons –- with just two head coaches. Tom Feely won 417 games in his 26-season run from 1954-55. Steve Fritz has now won 582 games in his 31-year run.

This week, the Toms play at second-place Carleton on Wednesday night and at Gustavus on Saturday, and one victory would make it 1,000 in the Feely-Fritz tenure.

In 100-plus varsity seasons, St. Thomas has 1,494 all-time men's basketball wins to rank in the top six among Division III institutions.

Streak Continues

The St. Thomas men’s hockey team continued one long streak and will try to extend two others. The Tommies have gone 2-0-2 in their last two weekend series and allowed just eight goals in those four games (St. Mary’s and St. Olaf). That has let them move to 12-9-2 on the season. They are assured of a .500 or better finish for the program for the 29th year in a row.

With one win or tie next weekend against Bethel, the Toms will lock up St. Thomas’ 29th consecutive winning season. They also are closing in on another MIAC playoff berth, and have qualified all 25 times since the format began in 1986.

Under first-year head coach Jeff Boeser, the Tommies have been in several close games and has managed to overcome adversity. Over the last two seasons, 24 of their 51 games were decided by one goal or ties. UST has played all January and February without senior captain Phil Johnson on defense, and played eight recent games without forward Matt Lipinski.

The Tommies, who have started five different goalies in the last two seasons, have a collective 3.00 GAA in that span.

Tight Race

For the first time in MIAC women’s hockey history, a four-way championship race is playing out over the last stretch of the season. Gustavus (18 points) leads the Tommies (17), St. Mary’s (17) and Bethel (16).

One clear trend in college women’s hockey in recent seasons has been better players and better goaltending. Back in the 2002-06 season, MIAC women’s teams allowed 3.4 goals a game. This winter, teams are allowing just 2.35 goals a game. Of the 60 MIAC games to date, 20 have been decided by one goal and 10 ended in ties.

By comparison, 2010-11 MIAC men's teams are allowing an average of 2.96 goals a game.

UST plays its final six conference games against Bethel, St. Catherine and Concordia. Up next is Wednesday's 7 p.m. home game against No. 2-ranked and unbeaten UW-River Falls (17-0-3).

Tennis Talk

Despite competing without three key players, the Tommie men's tennis team outlasted UW-LaCrosse 5-4 in Saturday's season-opening match at the Anderson Fieldhouse. Coach Terry Peck already had two injured players on the sidelines, then had a third key player travel out of state for a family emergency.

UST swept all three doubles matches by close margins and pulled out wins at No. 5-6 singles. LaCrosse was 18-6 last season and is regionally ranked.

Showcase Here Friday

Division III national and conferemce track and field powers Wartburg, UW-Whitewater, St. Thomas and Hamline will compete at St. Thomas in Friday's Showcase meet at Anderson Fieldhouse. Division II Moorhead State also will be in the field. 

The Tommie men placed first out of four teams at Saturday's Wartburg Select Meet. Mike Hutton (800) and Eyo Ekpo (high jump) posted NCAA provisional qualifying performances.

Olean Quote

St. Thomas baseball coach Chris Olean was quoted in a Saturday New York Times sports story on the domino effects of the Metrodome roof collapse:

Feel Good Stories

Last winter we profiled St. Thomas alum Mike O’Halloran, who two years back created the website

Yahoo sports liked his website enough that it invited him to be a contributor to its new online magazine The Post Game.

His first story with Yahoo profiled former Tommie football player Paul Ihlenfeldt, who has a sweet Sunday part-time job working the sidelines at Lambeau Field:

White House Bound

The main reason the Packers beat the Steelers in Sunday's Super Bowl ? The U.S. President factor, of course.

When you scan the teams' active, practice squad and injured reserve rosters, Green Bay has six (almost seven) guys with the same last name as U.S. Presidents. The Steelers have just five.

The Packers have a Bush, two Jacksons, a Johnson, a Wilson and a Grant, not to mention a Colledge (wasn't there a Calvin Colledge in the White House?). The Steelers could only counter with an Adams, a Harrison, a Johnson, a Madison and a Taylor.

Green Bay's President name count hits eight if you add in Donald (Driver), and the next U.S. president... Donald (Trump).

Gene McGivern

Sports information director Gene McGivern is working in his 18th season at St. Thomas and 24th in the MIAC. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and Division III sports.

If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at