Men's basketball cruises in season opener
November 15, 2013
NORTHFIELD, Minn. - It took most of the first half for them to come alive, but the St. Olaf men's basketball team eventually came to life and defeated Bethany Lutheran College 86-64 in their season opener on Friday evening at Skoglund Center.
The Oles struggled at the beginning of the first half and found themselves in a seven point hole after Bethany Lutheran made six of their first eleven three-pointers.
"I think Bethany deserves some credit for our slow start," said St. Olaf senior Sam Daly. "They capitalized on some early defensive mental mistakes."
However, St. Olaf managed to keep it close and tied the game at 29 with just over five minutes to play and that was when Daly took over. Daly poured in nine points in under four minutes to spark the Oles and help them go on a 17-7 run to close out the half and give them a ten point cushion going into halftime.
"My mentality going into the game was to go in and be a spark for my team and try to make a few plays on defense and rebounding," said Daly.
Following halftime, St. Olaf never looked back and was able to maintain at least a nine point advantage throughout the second half. Connor Gunderson led the Oles by going six-of-eight from the field in the second half.
"The reason we pulled ahead and stayed ahead was our focus on defense," said Daly. "We really picked it up as the game went on and it allowed us to get a lot of momentum after a few forced turnovers."
Gunderson totaled 22 points in the contest to lead St. Olaf in scoring and also added three rebounds, two blocks and an assist. Daly finished the game with 14 points on six-of-nine shooting and Sterling Nielsen also chipped in 13 points on four-of-eight shooting. Overall, the Oles shot 53 percent from the floor.
"This was a good first win for us," said Daly. "We really played together as a team and hopefully we will be able to carry this over into the rest of the non-conference schedule coming up."
St. Olaf will wait until next Saturday before playing their next game. The Oles will travel to Platteville, Wis. for a non-conference battle with Augustana College. Tip-off will take place at 5 p.m.