Men’s basketball hands St. Thomas first conference loss

Kevin Sethre, Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team had a couple close wins last week, beating Gustavus Adolphus at home 94–88 on Feb. 6 and traveling to St. Paul and handing St. Thomas their first loss in conference play, winning 88–86.

Gustavus kept the game close, so Augsburg went to a five-guard lineup early in the second half. This lineup created many mismatches for Gustavus down the stretch, forcing them to commit costly fouls that sent Augsburg to the freethrow line frequently. The Auggies, having the fifth-best free throw percentage in the country for Division-III schools, made 16 of 19 second-half free throws, including four in the last 26 seconds to bring the lead up to six points and seal the win. Booker Coplin and Martin Mitchell led the team in scoring with 35 and 20 points, respectively.

Augsburg visited St. Thomas, who had a 21-game win streak and a 17–0 conference record on Saturday. Augsburg almost beat them at home in January, but St. Thomas won in a triple overtime thriller.

Saturday, the Tommies led for most of the first half before an 18–3 run by Augsburg. The Auggies led 49–45 at halftime. Augsburg’s three-point shooting went cold in the second half, and the Tommies came back, going up 84–77 with 3:53 left. From that point, Augsburg outscored UST 11–2 and made all five free throws they attempted. Coplin had a three-point play to give the Auggies their first lead since the 12:22 mark. Kevin McKiernan scored a season-high 24 points.

With two games left, Augsburg has clinched a home playoff game. They have a 13–5 conference record and are tied with Bethel for third place in the MIAC. One of the major factors helping the Auggies is that they take care of the ball, averaging only 9.6 turnovers per game, the third best in the country. They finish the season hosting St. Olaf on Saturday.

Augsburg Mens Basketball in pregame huddle before game against Gustavus on 2/6 at Si Melby Hall. Photo by Greg Miller.

This article was originally published in the Feb. 15, 2019 issue.