Senior guard Grant Shaeffer scored a game-high 25 points, including the game-winning jump shot in the lane with :02 remaining, as first-place St. Thomas scored a 59-57 victory over visiting Gustavus in Wednesday night play at Schoenecker Arena.
The Tommies (16-4 overall, 12-3 MIAC) have won 12 of their last 13 games and now lead St. John's by 1 1-2 games and Bethel by two games atop the 20-game MIAC standings.
Shaeffer, one of two returning starters on St. Thomas' 2016 NCAA championship team, is averaging 19 points a game in UST's current seven-game win streak.
Gustavus never led in the second half but forced late ties at 55-55 and 57-57. The latter came with 29 seconds to go on Peter Kruize's short jumper.
With the shot clock turned off, Shaeffer and the Tommies settled for one last shot. The senior drove the lane, head faked his defender to get space, and got a clean look from 12 feet. His shot drew all net, and the Gusties' inbounds pass and desperation shot at the buzzer came up well short.
Riley Sharbono, Jason Faul and Kruize each scored 10 points for the Gusties (5-15, 5-10), who outrebounded UST 32-27.
UST junior Michael Hannon, who scored a game-high 23 points in Monday's win over Bethel, missed the game with sickness. Jordan Burich had 14 rebounds. Freshman Elijah Hannah had seven points off the bench, all in the first half.
St. Thomas used a 10-2 run to close the first half with a 36-30 advantage. The Toms pushed the lead to 11 with 15:00 to go but were unable to keep the cushion.