Men’s Basketball Drops Games During Break
The College of St. Scholastica men’s basketball team played in two very anticipated matchups this past week, with the first being against the No. 10 University of St. Thomas Tommies and the second against another MIAC school at Concordia College.
The Tommies are the defending national champions of Division III basketball, which would prove to be a good test for the Saints as they would play against one of the top teams in the nation early in the season.
The Tommies jumped out to an early lead, but senior guard Julius Johnson answered a few minutes in with a three to give the Saints their first lead of the game. The Tommies then scored five straight to climb back on top early on with a nine to five lead, which was the largest scoring margin in the half. Junior guard Joe Stark answered with a layup to start the Saints on a 7-0 run to take a 12-9 lead with 14:58 left in the half. With 13 minutes left in the half, junior Kory Deadrick hit a three to give the Saints their largest lead in the game with a score of 17-13. The Tommies went on a run to take the lead back before a couple of free throws from junior Zach Dahlman put the Saints back up 1 with 9:30 left in the half. The game kept going back-and- forth, with a few buckets from sophomore Nate Weets tying things up late in the half. St. Thomas would head into halftime up three, however, with a first-half score of 37-34.
The Saints shot 11 free throws in the first half compared to the empty-handed Tommies, who didn’t record any in the half.
Sophomore guard Brandon Newman got the second half going with a layup to bring the Saints within one, but that was as close as they would get to regaining the lead as the Tommies scored six straight to give them a seven-point lead. The Saints kept the game competitive for most of the half, cutting the lead down to six with 8:38 left. The Tommies would proceed to put the game out of reach for the Saints by going on a 15-0 run over the next 4 minutes. The Saints fell by a score of 83-65.
Leading the way for the Saints was the sophomore duo of Brandon Newman and Nate Weets, who scored 17 and 16 points, respectively.
The Saints put up a good fight against one of the top teams in the nation, however, and stayed competitive until the end of the half.
“We knew that if we played our game that we could hang with them,” said sophomore forward Connor Gray, “and that’s what we did in the first half. It was disappointing to see the score end up the way it did, because I don’t think that reflects how close of a game it was for the majority of it.”
Nonetheless, it was time to head back home for the next MIAC opponent, Concorida.
In the game against the Cobbers the first half was another back-and-forth affair with multiple ties and lead changes. The largest lead of the half for either team was five, which occurred at the end of the half when the Cobbers hit a three at the buzzer to head into the half with a lead of 38-33.
The second half start for the Saints was quite sluggish, as they had a tough time finding any shots to fall. They started 2-13 from the field and just 2-7 from the free throw line. The Cobbers took advantage of the shooting woes of CSS and went on a 30-7 run to put the game out of reach for the Saints, who fell by a final score of 80-64.
Deadrick led the Saints with 13 and freshman Collin Anderson added nine for the Saints. Zach Dahlman led the team with seven rebounds.
In the last couple games the Saints have had an issue of not being able to finish the same way they’ve started.
“I think we just need to all feel the same way about defense and be more of a unit,” said freshman Collin Anderson. “We don’t protect the basket like we should and that needs to change.”
“In the second half we play defense away from our bench,” said Gray. “We definitely have to improve our communication if we want to get stops and hold opponents to a worse shooting percentage.”
The Saints look to get back on track as conference play begins this weekend. They are looking to win the regular season UMAC title for a second consecutive year.
“I think we will come out with a lot more fire,” said Anderson. “We have been beaten to many times now to just play the same way so I expect us to come out guns blazing.”
“I think we have a lot of questions heading into conference play,” said Gray. “We have to continue to find our identity and play harder; if we do those things then wins will start falling into place for us.”
The Saints start off UMAC play when they travel to North Central University to play the Rams, followed by a game at the University of Northwestern the following day.