STEVENS POINT, Wis. - Despite a career night from senior Tyler Potts, the St. Thomas men's basketball never led in a 70-66 loss to UW-Stevens Point on Saturday night at Quandt Fieldhouse to finish out the 2017 portion of its schedule.
The Pointers opened up an eight-point lead (11-3) in the opening minutes of Saturday night's game and held on to the lead for the remainder of the contest, as the Tommies drop to 4-5 on the year. Stevens Point is now 5-2.
After the 11-3 deficit in the early going, the Tommies climbed back to within two points (16-14) following an 8-3 run by the Purple, thanks to a pair of three-pointers from Tyler Potts and a layup from Elijah Hannah.
But the Pointers stretched the lead right back, using a 12-5 run to open up a nine-point lead (28-19) with 3:51 remaining in the half. Stevens Point evenutally went into the half with the nine-point advantage (32-23) after outrebounding the Tommies 17-12, as well as shooting 48.1-percent (13-27) from the field compared to just 33.3-percent (7-21) for St. Thomas.
A quick four points to open the half gave the Pointers their largest lead of the night at 13 points (36-23). However, the Tommies answered with a 13-3 run of their own to cut the deficit to three (39-36) with 13:21 remaining in the game.
Ten minutes later, the difference was just one after Potts nailed a triple to bring the score to 57-56 and cap off a five point spurt that gave his team the momentum, but five straight points for the Pointers kept UST at arms distance. The Tommies kept it to a one- or two-possession game the rest of the way, but one point was as close as it would come in the four-point loss.
St. Thomas outscored UW-Stevens Point an unprecedented 49-26, but it was not enough, as the Pointers outrebounded the Tommies 36-24 and also held a 34-14 advantage in points in the paint. Stevens Point also shot 49.1-percent (26-53) from the field and 92.3-percent (12-13) from the free throw line. St. Thomas connected on 42.3-percent (22-52) from the floor and just 56.3-percent (9-16 from the charity stripe.
Tyler Potts led the scoring charge for the Purple, scoring a career-high 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range, but was just 2-for-6 from the line. John Veil followed with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go along with four assists. Connor Bair was the last Tommie to score in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. He also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
For the Pointers, Brett Tauber led with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go along with a game-high seven rebounds. Nate Dodge also scored 14 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
St. Thomas will be back in action on Wednesday, Jan. 3 on the road, yet still close to home. The Tommies will open the new year at Macalester for a 7:00 pm tip.