Senior guard Grant Shaeffer scored 21 points and Ryan Boll added 17 points and 13 rebounds as the host Tommies secured a first-round playoff bye with Wednesday night's 65-57 home win over St. Mary's in MIAC men's basketball play at Schoenecker Arena.
St. Thomas (18-6 overall, 14-5 MIAC) closes the regular-season Saturday at Concordia-Moorhead. With a win, the Toms will take the playoff top seed and share the championship. With a loss, they would finish alone or tied for second place.
Bethel won 81-68 at home Wednesday night over Concordia to finish 15-5 in the MIAC. Bethel has a bye Saturday.
The Toms are assured of a first or second playoff seed and a Tuesday Feb. 21 bye in round one. If UST wins Saturday it wins a tie-breaker with Bethel for the No. 1 seed. If UST loses and Carleton wins, they share second place but UST would win a tie-breaker for No. 2.
Jordan Burich had nine points, 15 rebounds and two steals for St. Thomas. UST had a 46-27 rebounding advantage.
Shaeffer's buzzer-beating trey closed the first half and gave the Toms a 34-24 lead.
The stubborn Cardinals (6-17, 4-15) got as close as four points after halftime. They hung around the whole way before Shaeffer scored 10 consecutive Tommie points in the final 3:15 to extend the lead to double digits.
Wylie Ferron had 16 points and 13 boards for St. Mary's.