Sophomore guard Ryan Lindberg scored a season-high 18 points and host St. Thomas had only eight turnovers in Saturday afternoon's 87-64 home men's basketball victory over St. Mary's in Schoenecker Arena.
Senior G.T. Johnson had 11 points, five boards and three assists for the Tommies (14-1 overall, 10-0 MIAC), who ran their win streak to 14 and improved to 8-0 at home this season. Coach John Tauer's team moved into sole possession of the MIAC lead with its victory plus No. 8-ranked St. John's 66-63 road loss to Carleton.
The 20-game conference race is at the halfway point. St. Thomas and St. John's play Monday night at Schoenecker Arena in their first meeting of the regular season. The Tommies hold a one-game lead on the Johnnies (9-1) and a three-game edge on third-place Augsburg (8-3), which needed overtime to win on the road Saturday at St. Olaf.
Eli Cave scored a game-high 19 points for St. Mary's (6-11, 2-10). The Cardinals fell behind 18-5 and 27-8 before using a 22-7 run to trim the Tommie lead to 34-30 with 2:18 to play in the first half.
Lindberg's 3-point basketball capped a 7-2 run to end the half with the Toms up 41-32. The Purple started the second half with a 15-4 run to take control.
St. Thomas made 11 shots from 3-point range, had a 36-32 rebounding edge,and outscored the Cards 18-9 at the foul line. The Toms had a 31-19 edge in bench points.