Bobby Fong, Stu Neville, and the Ole bench are all smiles in the second half of a 72-47 win over Saint John's on Saturday afternoon.
St. Olaf 72, Saint John's 47 (Box) | Photo Gallery

Ole men roll against Saint John's

Michael Abdella
February 11, 2012

NORTHFIELD, Minn.- Three days after scoring 46 second half points in a win over Concordia-Moorhead, the St. Olaf men's basketball team posted 43 points in the first half of a 72-47 victory over Saint John's on Saturday afternoon at Bob Gelle Court.

Even with a playoff spot clinched on Wednesday, the Oles got off to a blistering start against the Johnnies. Stu Neville started the game with back-to-back three pointers, as St. Olaf made their first six shots from the field. The hosts' perfect shooting start culminated in a 15-5 lead at the 16:57 mark after a jumper from Connor Gunderson. Neville made three of the six straight makes, scoring eight early points.

Four minutes into the game, St. Olaf finally missed a shot but didn't cool off much at all. After a Michael Jenson layup at the 10:02 mark, the Oles had made 12 of their first 16 shots and held a 29-13 lead. St. Olaf took a 43-24 lead, their largest of the half, into the locker room after shooting 16-29 (55.2%) in the opening half of play.

The first half was dominated by the play of Neville, Nathan Kuck, and Bobby Fong. Neville scored 18 points on 6-7 shooting, and combined with Kuck (11 points) and Fong (8 points) to score 37 of the Oles 43 points. St. Olaf also held the Johnnies to just 24 points on 9-25 (36%) shooting before the break.

In the second half, St. Olaf's offense slowed down a bit but their defensive effort stayed strong. Saint John's shot 9-27 (33.3%) in the second half, as they were unable to make any dent in the Ole lead. The Oles scored the first five points of the second half to take a 24-point lead and did not lead by less than 19 the rest of the way.

Thanks to his big first half, Neville led St. Olaf with 22 points on 8-11 shooting. The senior forward also added 12 rebounds to record the double-double. Fong made six of 12 shots from the field on his way to scoring 17 points and also posted eight boards. Kuck was the third Ole in double figures with 11 points.

On a cold shooting day for the visitors, Saint John's only had one player in double figures. Andy Burns scored 15 points on 5-12 from the field and 3-8 from behind the arc. Aaron Barmore added eight, while Chris Neumann scored seven points to go along with five rebounds.

St. Olaf cooled off significantly in the second half. The Oles made just 11 of 31 shots after the break but still finished at 27-60 (45.0%) from the floor. Saint John's shot 18-52 (34.6%) for the game. St. Olaf also held an advantage from the free throw line, making 12 of 16 attempts while the Johnnies made just seven of 15. Neville and Fong's work on the glass led to a 43-33 advantage for St. Olaf in rebounds.

Although they already have a MIAC playoff spot clinched, the win helps the Oles fight for seeding in the postseason. St. Olaf improves to 13-9, 12-5 in the conference and currently sits third. The squad is one game behind second place St. Thomas and one game ahead of fourth place Augsburg. St. Olaf's next game is Monday night at Augsburg. Saint John's falls to 13-8, 9-7 in MIAC play but remains in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed.

Contact media relations specialist Mike Ludwig at (507) 786-3834 or ludwigm@stolaf.edu.