Ole men score 55 in second half to top Hamline
February 6, 2013
NORTHFIELD, Minn.- After trailing at halftime, the St. Olaf men's basketball team exploded for 55 points in the second half to defeat Hamline 88-76 on Wednesday night at the Skoglund Center.
St. Olaf (9-13, 8-9 MIAC) shot 57.7 percent after the break and made 25 of 30 free throws in the contest. Josh Pratt and Sterling Nielsen combined to score 40 points for the Oles.
Dior Ford (16), Noah Aguirre (14), and Wesley Pinera (10) were all in double figures for Hamline (8-14, 5-12 MIAC) in the loss. The Pipers shot 48.4 percent for the game.
Hamline led 40-33 at halftime after they shot 47.1 percent and forced 10 Ole turnovers in the opening half. However, St. Olaf committed just one turnover in the second half as they came out of the locker room strong.
The Oles turned the seven-point deficit into a nine-point lead in the opening eight minutes of the second half with a 25-9 run. St. Olaf made four threes and made nine of their first 11 second half shots to go up 60-51 with 12:07 left.
Hamline climbed back into the game and took the lead at 62-61 with an 11-1 run of their own to answer the strong Ole start to the second half. Pinera had two jumpers during the Piper run and Ford's jumper capped it to give Hamline the lead back with 8:12 to play.
Pratt stopped the bleeding for the Oles with back-to-back baskets as St. Olaf reclaimed the lead. The Oles stretched their advantage to ten with 3:53 remaining. Pratt had seven of the ten points in the 13-2 Ole run that gave them the lead for good. St. Olaf made their final eight free throws to ice the win.
Nielsen led the Oles with his game-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting from both the field and the free throw line. Nielsen did his damage in just 19 minutes of play. Pratt scored 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including making 3-of-5 threes and 6-of-7 free throws.
Nathan Kuck came off the St. Olaf bench to chip in with 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Kuck's play was part of a good night for the Ole bench, as they contributed 33 points.
Hamline finished the game shooting 48.4 percent from the field, while St. Olaf finished at an even 50.0 percent clip. Both teams were 7-for-14 from behind the arc. The Oles outscored the Pipers 25-9 from the free throw line.
The win keeps St. Olaf in the playoff hunt. The Oles are tied with Bethel for seventh, one game behind sixth-place Saint John's with three games left. St. Olaf will continue their playoff push on Saturday at Augsburg (16-6, 11-6 MIAC) at 3 p.m. The Auggies beat St. Olaf 90-82 at the Skoglund Center on January 12.