Nyden Hill – Staff Writer
This past Saturday, Nov. 26, the Gustavus men’s basketball team traveled to Moorhead to take on the Concordia Cobbers. Going into the contest, the Gusties had a record of 1-3 (1-1), while the Cobbers sat at 1-3 (1-1) and were coming off of a one-game winning streak.
With the Cobbers being the third in-conference matchup of the year, the Gusties knew they needed to be prepared to face fierce competition.
“Pretty much our entire game plan going into the game was pretty much being faster than them. We knew that if we pushed the ball in transition we would get a lot of easy buckets out of that,” said Junior forward Evan Wieker.
Sophomore guard Brady Kienitz also added his thoughts on what the Gusties looked to rely on going into the game.
“All of us could guard any of their guys, so we were able to switch everything personnel wise,” said Kienitz.
During the first few minutes of action, the Gusties seemingly struggled to find their full form and rhythm. Within the first minute of action, a Cobber layup and three-pointer put the Gusties down zero to five. However, as the first half continued, the Gusties showcased their scrappiness by keeping things competitive and narrowing the Cobber lead to two, with the score being 14-16 with 13:45 left in the half.
Up to this point, this comeback was fueled mostly by Junior forward Adam Biewen and Kienitz, with Biewen providing some offensive firepower and Kienitz facilitating the offense. As time elapsed, the Gusties turned on the heat even more and gained a lead of four points, courtesy of a three-pointer by Kienitz, with the score being 32-28 with 5:06 left in the first half.
Over the course of the next five minutes, the Gusties and Cobbers would exchange field goals with the lead seemingly changing with almost every made basket. To end the first half, a sequence of missed shots and a singular turnover put the Gusties behind, resulting in the Cobbers being up 43-39 going into halftime.
While he initially started cold, Wieker along with Biewen, led the Gusties offensively in the first half. The duo each posted seven points, with Wieker posting an assist and Biewen adding a steal to the box score.
“Starting off the game, I would actually say I played pretty terribly, but I came out and coach Gary Holmseth gave me a little pep talk. After that, I went back in and just focused on getting rebounds and pushing the ball. That ultimately helped me and the team perform better all around,” said Wieker.
Being down after 20 minutes of play, the Gusties knew that in order to turn the tide they had to make adjustments on both sides of the ball. Kienitz detailed exactly what changes occurred for the Gusties in order to bounce back and finish the game strong.
“I think we stepped it up defensively big time and I think we just ran our offense a lot better,” said Kienitz.
Kienitz was not the only Gustie to share this sentiment.
“We really forced them to turn the ball over and took advantage of good buckets on the offensive end. We also did a good job really attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line,” said Biewen.
With this in mind, to start the second half of play, the Gusties wasted no time taking the lead. They chipped away at the lead that the Cobbers had built in the first half, until just three minutes of action had elapsed, in which a three-pointer by Wieker put the Gusties in front 46-43.
Wieker’s three-pointer served as a turning point for the Gusties, as the Gusties extended their lead to six points not long after the courtesy of another three-pointer by Senior guard Jordan Schommer.
Throughout the rest of the second half the Gusties did an amazing job of controlling the ball and the pace of play. They stayed true to their brand of basketball, which led to them staying in command and increasing their lead to seven by the time the horn sounded to signal an end to the game, resulting in a final score of 81-74.
In the second half, Wieker and Schommer led the Gusties, with Wieker adding nine points to his seven in the first half and Schommer exploding for 13 second half points.
Throughout both halves, Wieker led the team on both ends of the floor, posting 16 points and 13 rebounds. Biewen and Schommer both finished with 13 points. This win over the Cobbers improved the team’s record to 2-3 (2-1) and gave head coach Justin DeGrood his second career win as head coach of the Gusties.
With the season still unfolding for the Gusties, the team knows they have a long season ahead, and under DeGrood’s tutelage, they have clearly defined expectations going forward.
“Overall it’s going how we expected. Coming into this season, we have a whole different situation compared to last year,” said Wieker.
In addition to Wieker’s thoughts on the season, Biewen expanded on this concept of this being a different Gustie men’s basketball team than last year.
“We are a less experienced group and have a new coach. It’s obviously going to take some time to get used to our offensive and defensive concepts but I think once we really start figuring each other out we are going to be a really good team,” said Biewen.