The Gustie Men’s Basketball team is now 2-0 in the MIAC, and 2-2 overall in their 2016-2017 campaign after two straight wins against conference opponents in the past week. On Saturday, December 3rd, they traveled to St. Paul to take on Macalester and led the game the entire way en route to a 15-point victory. The visiting Gusties were led by Sophomore Spencer Tollefson who had a career-high 16 points. Tollefson was lights out from the free throw line and went 10-10 on the day.
“Since we put them on the line so many times, it was important that we shot our free throws well. Spencer Tollefson had a good game from the line and we did a nice job of getting the ball into the post,” Head Coach Mark Hanson said.
Tollefson was not the only Gustie who shone against the Scots; all five Gustavus starters reached double figures in the points column. Sophomore Riley Sharbono and Senior Peter Kruize both added 13 points of their own, and Senior Alec Koster had 10. Junior Kelsey Thomas rounded out the starting five with 14 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.
“We rebounded well and not giving them extra opportunities is important. It was also great to have so many players contribute,” Hanson said.
The first half was back and forth as the Gusties jumped on their opponents right out of the gate and secured a 17-2 lead after the first six minutes and twenty seconds of play, before Macalester cut the lead to six. The smallest the Scots’ deficit ever got was five points in the beginning of the second half, before the Gusties made a final push for the safe victory. The biggest difference between the two teams was the battle in the paint, where Gustavus outscored Macalester 50-24 and out-rebounded the Scots 42-22.
Prior to the win over Macalester, the Gusties hosted Concordia in its home opener and first MIAC game of the season on Nov. 30. Once again, five Gusties reached double figures, and a second half run gave the Gusties the spark they’d been looking for after a close first half.
It looked as though Concordia had all of the momentum going into halftime as they made a run at the end of the first half thanks to a couple buckets and a technical foul assessed to Coach Hanson which put the Cobbers at the line for four free throws. With 10:37 left in the game, the Gusties led by just three points, but managed to create an impressive 18-1 scoring run over the next three minutes. From that point on, the Gusties cruised to a 17-point win.
Sophomore Riley Sharbono led the Gusties offensive attack with a career-high 20 points, on 7-13 from the field, and 6-8 from behind the three-point-line. Alec Koster, Peter Kruize, and Ben Lies, all seniors had 14, 13, and 13 points respectively, and Junior Jason Faul added 10 more.
“It took us a while to start defending as well as we needed to, but I thought offensively we did a lot of nice things…It feels like it’s been a long time between wins after the first two losses this season and the whole offseason, so it’s nice to get the win,” Hanson said.
At time of print the Gusties were facing the Ole’s in Northfield. They will look to continue their two-game win streak and early success in the MIAC against an Ole team that is 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC.
Looking ahead to the weekend, they will take on St. Mary’s in Winona, MN at 3 pm on Saturday, Dec. 10. The Gusties will then return to Lund Center on Dec. 13 to play North Central at 7 pm.