With Fong quiet, Kuck and Nielson lead Oles to win over Hamline
January 30, 2012
NORTHFIELD, Minn.- Bobby Fong was held scoreless for the game's first 35 minutes but Nathan Kuck and Sterling Nielson combined to score 34 points off the bench to lead St. Olaf to a 77-70 victory over Hamline in a MIAC men's basketball contest on Monday night at the Skoglund Center.
Fong, the team's second-leading scorer, did not score until a fade-away jumper from the free throw line following an inbounds pass with 5:25 to play. However, he scored eight points down the stretch to help the Oles secure an important conference win.
During Fong's quiet first half, it was Kuck, Stu Neville, Nielson, and Mark Wieloch who carried the load. The quartet combined to score 42 of St. Olaf's 46 first half points, with Kuck leading the way with 14 on 4-8 from behind the arc. Neville had 13 points in the first eight minutes when the Oles raced to a 26-13 advantage.
After falling behind by 13, Hamline cut the lead to one at 30-29 with 5:04 remaining before halftime thanks in part to two three-pointers from Francis Bungue. However, St. Olaf responded with a 14-2 run over the next three minutes, highlighted by three triples from Kuck. St. Olaf took a ten point, 46-36 lead into the break.
The Oles stretched their lead to 58-42, their largest lead of the night, with 12:40 to play following a steal and layup from Josh Pratt. Hamline slowly trimmed the St. Olaf lead to eight at 63-55 after a pair of Mike Campbell free throws with eight and a half minutes to play. However, Fong made a jumper and a two-handed dunk to put the Oles up 14 and 3:45 remaining and the Pipers were unable to trim the deficit to less than eight until the closing seconds.
For the game, Kuck led the Oles with 20 points. The sophomore guard shot 6-16 from the field, including 5-12 on threes. Stu Neville recorded a double-double with 19 points on 9-14 shooting and 10 rebounds. Nielson made six of seven from the field on his way to 14 points. Mark Wieloch had nine points in just 13 minutes.
Al Tillman led the Pipers with 12 points on 4-5 shooting off the bench. Mike Campbell, the team's leading scorer, was the only other Piper in double figures with 10 points. Campbell did almost all of his damage from the free throw line, making eight of nine attempts. Eleven Hamline players scored in the game.
St. Olaf shot 18-33 (54.5%) in the first half and cooled off a little in the second half, finishing at a 48.4% clip. Hamline shot 13-26 (50.0%) in the first half but shot just 32.1% after the break. Both teams relied on the three point shot, as the Oles shot 8-25 (32.0%) and the Pipers shot 12-29 (41.4%) from behind the arc. St. Olaf forced 17 Hamline turnovers in the win, recording ten steals. Neville had three steals to go with his double-double.
The win improves the Oles to 11-8, 10-4 in the MIAC, which is good for third place. St. Olaf sits one game behind joint-leaders Gustavus and St. Thomas who are both 11-3. Hamline falls to 10-9, 8-6 in the conference, one game behind Augsburg for the final playoff berth. The Oles travel to St. Peter for another critical MIAC game against Gustavus on Wednesday night at 7:30.