Junior center Connor Bair recorded a season-high 21 points to go with six boards and five assists off the bench to lead five Tommies scoring in double figures in Wednesday night's 81-78 MIAC men's basketball home win over Bethel in Schoenecker Arena.
The Tommies (9-8 overall, 7-3 MIAC) avenged a Dec. 6 road loss to Bethel. They have their first three-game win streak of the season and improved to 5-1 over a 15-day span in January. They are now tied for second place in the conference with Carleton at 7-3, just behind 9-0 St. John's.
Bethel (11-4, 6-4), which had won seven of its last eight games, got 19 points from Matt Ambriz, 18 points and seven boards from Derek Magnuson, and nine points and eight assists from Bridgeport Tusler.
Ryan Boll added 16 points and seven assists and the Toms outscored Bethel 45-11 in bench points. St. Thomas shot 52 percent in the second half and 48 percent on the game. The Toms helped force 11 second-half turnovers and 17 on the night.
UST rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first 12 minutes and again from a seven-point second-half deficit. Four different Toms scored during a game-closing 8-4 run over the final 3:34.
Leading by just two points, the Toms tipped out three missed shots in the last 1:34 for key offensive rebounds to maintain possession. Freshman Burt Hedstrom made the first of two in the bonus situation with :08 to go to push the lead to three. He missed the second, but UST tipped out the loose ball and Michael Hannon got the ball and was fouled. He missed the one-and-one free throw but BU's Jack Jenson raced up court only to miss a contested tying shot from the top of the key at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.
St. Thomas plays at St. John's on Saturday.