The St. Thomas men laid an old-fashioned whuppin’ on St. Mary’s Monday night at the new Schoenecker Arena. St. Mary’s hung tough through the end of the 1st half, rallying from a 13 point deficit to within 42-35 at intermission.
St. Mary’s sophomore forward Chris Palmer impressed everybody with 13 1st half points and 7 rebounds, 4 on the offensive boards for 4 2nd chance points. I know he impressed Tommies’ coach Steve Fritz who used a timeout 2:47 into the game to remind his boys to get out on Palmer on the perimeter and to please block him off the boards. This, after Palmer scored 5 of St. Mary’s 1st 8 points with 2 rebounds.
The Tommies shut Palmer down for awhile after that, as Palmer went almost 9 minutes until his next score, a putback, by which time St. Thomas led 26-17. Another 2 minutes later it was 32-19. But Palmer added another 6 (of 8 St. Mary’s) points in the final 3:25 to get the Cardinals close.
All for naught, I might add. Whatever coach Fritz said to his boys at half-time seems to have worked. The Tommies scored the 1st 9 points of the 2nd half and, at 17:57, it was already garbage time. But, then, St. Thomas also scored the next 11 points of the half to conclude a 20-0 run. Anders Halvorsen, Alex Healy and Tyler Nicolai each scored 2 buckets in that run, and the Cardinals turned the ball over on 6 of their 1st 9 possessions of the half.
The Tommies’ kept the pressure on right to the end. The starting 5 checked out of the ball game at 14:45, leading 59-35. They checked back into the game,en masse, at 9:42, their lead having been whittled down to 62-43. They left for good at 6:24, up 71-49. The Tommies’ bench out-scored St. Mary’s 19-9 the rest of the way, and the final score represented the largest lead of the night.
Palmer finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Will Wright with 18 points for the Cardinals. Their teammates shot 5-for-24.
St. Thomas, meanwhile, shot 61 percent, and even better, 64 percent, from 3-point land. Coach Fritz played 15 kids—the starters from 16 to 27 minutes, the 2nd platoon from 13 to 17, and the deeper bench from 2 to 7 minutes. Eleven of them scored. Healy led the way with 18 on 9-of-11 shooting. Starters Nicolai and Halvorsen, and Will DeBerg off the bench also scored in double figures. Freshman Zach Riedemann from Forest Lake also impressed, with 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 6 rebound in just 13 minutes.
There were 30 points off of turnovers to 5 for St. Mary’s, and in the paint it was 34-10 St. Thomas. The Tommies assisted on 23-of-34 FG, St. Mary’s on just 5-of-18.
The going gets tougher, hopefully, for St. Thomas as Carleton and Gustavus, both unbeaten going into last night (though the Gusties lost last night to Hamline at home), visit Schoenecker Arena on Wednesday and Saturday. Carleton beat St. John’s 71-63 to remain unbeaten in MIAC play.