Tuesday Talk: Basketball takes center stage

Tuesday Talk: Basketball takes center stage

Tuesday Talk is a weekly news and notes column on Tommiesports.com

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A busy 11 days of hoops starts Wednesday for both Tommie Men's and Women's Basketball in an otherwise quieter stretch for St. Thomas athletics:

  • The fall season officially ended last Saturday with Tommie Football's 24-10 road loss at No. 1-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor in the national quarterfinal round.
  • Coming off a weekend sweep of No. 3-ranked Augsburg, UST Men's Hockey plays Friday at home, then is off competition for nearly four weeks.
  • Coming off a win and tie against Augsburg, UST Women's Hockey plays Dec. 13 at home, then is off competition for nearly four weeks.
  • UST Swim-Dive will have a training trip to Florida after Christmas but won't compete again Jan. 13.
  • Tommie Track and Field is preparing for its first two indoor competitions, at home, Friday Jan. 12 and 19.

 

Streak Talk
 
St. Thomas Women's Hoops takes a 16-game home win streak into Wednesday night's home test against Bethel.
 
Coach Ruth Sinn's women's program also has a 35-game victory streak against MIAC opponents. The Toms are 150-16 against conference foes since January 2010.
 
Tommie Men's Hockey has won three in a row, while Tommie Women's Hockey is unbeaten in its last four MIAC contests (3-0-1).

 

Poll Talk
 
St. Thomas' four fall teams finished with a combined record of 70-15-3. That includes a 34-4-1 slate in conference play, and a 29-2-3 on-campus record.
 
The Toms' four winter hockey and basketball teams are off to a 20-8-2 start, with four of those losses to teams currently ranked in the top 10.
 
Ten Tommie teams are currently nationally ranked:
  • Women's Basketball (8th/11th)
  • Football (4th, tied for fifth place in nation);
  • Men's Soccer (6th, tied for fifth place in nation)
  • Men's Golf (4th/4th)
  • Women's Hockey (9th/10th);
  • Women's Swim-Dive (14th);
  • Men's Swim-Dive (21st);
  • Volleyball (25th, tied for 33rd place in nation);
  • Women's Golf (26th, GolfStat);
  • Women's Cross Country (30th, placed 22nd in nation).

 

Men's Basketball

St. Thomas (3-2 overall, 1-1 MIAC) was outscored 6-0 over the last 61 seconds and lost 69-61 last Saturday at Hamline. That came on the heels of a nine-point home win over Concordia-Moorhead.

Next up is a tough road test Wednesday at Bethel (7 p.m.) in a battle of the 2016-17 MIAC co-champions.

The Toms also play No. 10-ranked UW-River Falls next Saturday (5 p.m.). The Falcons, 25-4 last season, just edged Carleton at home 72-69 to improve to 6-1.

Ryan Boll leads the Toms at 20.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game. A different player has led St. Thomas in scoring in each of the last three games.

 

Women's Basketball

No. 8-ranked St. Thomas (4-1 overall, 1-0 MIAC) won a pair of road games last weekend by 20 or more points in a 24-hour span. Next up are two home games in a four-day stretch -- Wednesday vs. Bethel (7 p.m.), and Saturday against St. Catherine (3 p.m.).

Junior center Hannah Spaulding was named MIAC Athlete of the Week after she had 17 points, 16 boards, three assists and two steals in 27 minutes in a 24-point defeat of UW-Stevens Point on Friday night, and came back the next afternoon with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists in a 20-point win at Hamline. Spaulding made 16-of-20 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 from the foul line, and leads MIAC players in scoring per game and field-game percentage.

 

Men's Hockey

St. Thomas (5-3-1 overall, 2-1-1 MIAC) posted a pair of close wins over previously-unbeaten Augsburg to run their win streak to three. UST is 4-1-1 in its last six games, the lone loss in overtime to No. 5-ranked UW-Stevens Point. Next up is Friday's 7:30 p.m. home game aginst Finlandia (Mich.).

The Auggies came into last weekend's series 8-0 and in the top five nationally in scoring at five goals per game. UST junior goalie Benjamin Myers recorded 41 saves in Friday's 2-0 road win (capped by a late empty net goal). It was the first time Augsburg was shutout in its last 70 games. In Saturday's 5-4 home victory, Myers stopped 37 shots, including 15 of 16 in the final period.

On the weekend Myers saved 77 of 81 shots and helped kill off seven of eight Augsburg power plays. Myers allowed 14 goals in three games against Augsburg last season. Myers has allowed just 17 goals in nine games, five via the power play and one short handed.

Cullen Willox, who leads the Toms in goals with six, had an empty-net goal in Friday's 2-0 victory and scored twice on Saturday.

 

Swim Dive

St. Thomas dominated the two-day, multi-team UST Invite last weekend at Anderson Pool. The Tommies combined to win 33 events -- 17 by the men, and 16 by the women. UST capped the event by winning all 12 events on Saturday evening.

Katelyn Strauss posted the No. 11 time the nation in the 200 fly (2:05.16), and also was a part of seven firsts. Alex Howard had her hand in eight victories, including individual wins in the 100, 200 and 500 free races. Tiana Molitor contributed to four firsts. Four of the Tommies' five relays are ranked in the top 20 nationally, led by the 200 free at No. 12. Kasey Ericson won the 1,650 in 17:36.52, a time that's seeded No. 28 in Division III.

On the men's side, Tom Negaard had a hand in six wins; Bailey Biwer had a hand in five; and Zach Wiesen and Max Larson each were a part of four firsts. Three of the Tommies' five relays are ranked in the top 25 nationally, led by the 800 free at No. 19.

 

Football

St. Thomas Football will return at least 15 players with starting experience next season, including All-Region center Matt Beck and 10 others who made one of the All-MIAC honor teams.

Coach Glenn Caruso's Tommies will go into 2018 with a 28-game win streak against conference opponents.