ST PETER — With just five games remaining in the regular season, the Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team is an unfamiliar position — battling to qualify for a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament.
Wednesday night at Lund Center, the Golden Gusties took a step in the right direction by blasting St. Mary’s 82-43 behind a career-high 20 points from 6-foot-6 senior wing Blake Shay. The win snapped a three-game losing skid and upped Gustavus’ record to 10-9 overall and 8-7 in the MIAC, tied with Carleton for the final playoff spot.
“You’ve got to beat the teams that are below you if you want to stay in that battle,” Gusties’ coach Mark Hanson said. “I think we took some life out of them at some point, but we still showed some weaknesses we need to work on. I thought we did some things that were a step up defensively.
“We need to do more on a nightly basis. When we moved the ball well I thought we created some really good shots, especially in the second half when we got layups. There’s still times when the ball stops when I think we need to keep it going. If we’re going to be a good team we need to share the ball. If we don’t share it then we become much easier to defend.”
Gustavus converted a trio of three-point plays — one on a nifty finger roll off the
glass by Shay and two on follow-up baskets from senior guard Ben Biewen — in building a 38-22 halftime cushion. The Gusties also fired through four 3-pointers — two from senior wing Jim Hill and one each from Shay and Jordan Dick — over the opening 20 minutes.
“Urgency is definitely part of it and responsibility is a little bit too,” HIll, who finished with 15 points, said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team and we don’t want to break tradition. We’re going to do what it takes to get into the playoffs.