Johnnies edge men's basketball in wild finish to end season
February 16, 2013
NORTHFIELD, Minn.- Visiting Saint John's survived a frantic ending to defeat the St. Olaf men's basketball team 79-76 on Saturday afternoon at the Skoglund Center.
A three by Mitchell Kuck and two free throws by Alex Schmitt gave Saint John's a 77-71 lead with 30 seconds left. However, Nathan Kuck answered with a deep and contested three pointer to cut it to three.
The Oles then forced a tie-up on the Johnnies in-bounds play to regain possession and Kuck was fouled and made both free throws to make it 77-76. Chris Neumann was fouled and made both free throws meaning Saint Olaf needed a three on the final possession.
With one second remaining, Saint John's fouled Kuck just before he got off the potential game-tying three. After missing the first free throw, Kuck intentionally missed the second but the Johnnies grabbed the rebound to seal the win.
Mitchell Kuck led Saint John's (12-13, 11-9 MIAC) with 24 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Older brother Nathan scored 23 for St. Olaf (9-16, 8-12 MIAC), who was led by Connor Gunderson's season-high 24 points on 8-for-11 from the field.
Five Johnnies players were in double figures in the game, as Chris Neumann (15), Schmitt (13, and Seth Marx and Patrick Butcher (11 each) all joined Kuck in double digits. Saint John's shot 57.1 percent for the game and went 9-for-13 from behind the arc, including a perfect 6-for-6 after halftime.
St. Olaf shot 46.6 percent for the game, including 48.0 percent after the break. The Oles made 17 of 20 free throws in the contest and outrebounded Saint John's 36-24. St. Olaf had 11 offensive rebounds.
The Johnnies led for most of the opening eight minutes before the Oles were ahead for the last 12 minutes of the first half. St. Olaf used a 9-0 run to take a 24-18 lead at the 8:56 mark that included five points by Gunderson. The Oles led by as many as eight in the closing minute of the half and took a 39-33 lead into the break.
Saint John's scored the first six points of the second half to give the game its first tie with 17:43 to play. St. Olaf built up its biggest lead of the second half at 46-41 after an and-one by Riley Aeikens.
The Oles led 50-47 with 12:38 remaining before the Johnnies went on a 18-6 run to take a nine-point lead with 7:49 to go. Saint John's made six of seven shots from the field, including four threes during the spurt. Schmitt and Kuck had two threes each.
St. Olaf responded to the Johnnie three-point barrage with a 11-3 run of their own to get within one at the 4:25 mark. Sterling Nielsen (6) and Nathan Kuck (5) did all the Ole scoring during the run that set up the frantic finish.
The win sends Saint John's into the MIAC Playoffs as the sixth seed. St. Olaf finished the year in eighth place in the MIAC. The game on Saturday marked the final game for St. Olaf's lone senior Andrew Sathoff, who started the game for the Oles.