Center Conner Nord and guard Dylan Stewart shared the top-scorer title, netting 16 each, as the No. 15-ranked Tommies rolled over Macalester College 89-40 Wednesday night at Schoenecker Arena.
Guard Erik Tengwall said his team used a week-long break for strong practices and to build the energy the brought to the matchup with the Scots. The strong start for St. Thomas included guard Taylor Montero’s two 3-pointers and Tengwall’s steal on the following inbound pass, putting the Tommies up 12-2 with 16:47 left in the first half.
“I thought we came out very strong in the first half. Looking at Macalester’s record, it doesn’t show how good of a team they are,” Tengwall said. “Coming out strong like that really helped us in the first half with picking up the tempo throughout the rest of the game as well.”
St. Thomas pressured Macalester throughout the game, forcing 26 turnovers, all of which led to points for the Tommies. Midway through the first half, forward Zach Riedeman stole a Scot pass in the open court and found Nord breaking to the hoop for a two-handed throwdown.
Coach John Tauer said his players had strong energy and focus on the defensive end, which carried over on the offense.
“The biggest thing is I thought our guys shared the ball really well,” Tauer said. “I really liked the way the guys moved the ball and played unselfishly.”
St. Thomas’ unselfish play was on display all game, leading to 28 assists and 53 percent shooting from the field.
“When (the Scots) got in the zone, we wanted to get in the lane, shoot fake and hit the open guy,” Stewart said. “And I was the open guy sometimes and was able to knock them down.”
Stewart connected on four of five 3-point attempts and added 2 rebounds, while dishing out an assist. The Tommies moved the ball well against the 2-3 zone, leading to open looks and 12-of-27 shooting from behind the arc.
In the blowout victory, Tauer said he was glad to see contributions from the entire 19-man roster.
“One of the things that (the bench) knows is we don’t expect there to be a letdown when we go to our bench,” Tauer said. “It was nice to get all 19 guys some experience tonight, and that’s a nice reward. They’ve practiced really hard every day, and all our guys do a great job whether it’s on scout teams or one of the first two teams. I’m happy all the way around.”
The St. Thomas bench outscored Macalester 38-12 and kept up the pressure on the defensive end. Early in the second half, Alipate led a fast break and threaded a no-look pass to Tengwall for a lay-up, giving the Tommies a 62-23 lead.
St. Thomas continued the solid play for the remainder of the game and gave Macalester no hope of mounting a comeback.
“We pushed the ball and got it into the post and made the easy shot, made the easy pass, didn’t try and do too many things by ourselves,” Tengwall said. “And I thought we played very unselfishly tonight, which led to some open shots as well.”
St. Thomas is back in action against Carleton College at 3 p.m Saturday on the road. When the Tommies faced the Knights on Jan. 4 at home, St. Thomas won 82-52.
Kyle Jonas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.