Forward Zach Riedeman’s team-high 16 points helped the St. Thomas men’s basketball team to a 78-69 victory over the Carleton Knights (5-4, 2-2) Wednesday at Schoenecker Arena for its 10th straight win of the season.
The game marked the third-ranked Tommies’ (10-0, 5-0) first of an 11-game stretch spanning 29 days.
Coach John Tauer said the team’s success depends on how effectively it executes on the court.
“We know if we do things the right way, games should turn out in our favor,” Tauer said. “We’re pleased to be off to a good start.”
St. Thomas started slow in the game. Guard John Nance altered the Tommies’ mentality when he broke away off of defense to score on a layup. Nance went 3-for-5 in total number of field goals against Carleton, and he totaled nine for the game.
Nance said the team’s defense hurt it in the first half.
“We gave them a lot of easy baskets, and they got a lot of backdoor layups,” Nance said.
The Tommies surged ahead when guard Taylor Montero sank a 3-pointer, giving his team the 15-14 lead. Guard Marcus Alipate fired a three from his arsenal to give the Tommies a sizable 26-16 lead. The Knights kept their intensity when forward Tyler Goetz swished a 3-pointer, putting the Knights in the lead 37-35 at the halftime.
Tauer agreed with Nance that the team struggled defensively in the first half.
“We weren’t very happy about some of the easy baskets we gave up, both layups and threes,” Tauer said. “We talked about containing their penetration, backdoors and contesting all their 3-point shots.”
Heading into the second half, the Tommies came out with different intentions. It wasn’t until Riedeman owned the hoop with a one-handed dunk that the Tommies pushed ahead, extending their lead to 51-46.
Riedeman said he hadn’t done a dunk during a game for a while.
“It felt good,” Riedeman said. “I haven’t had one since high school.”
Riedeman continued to dominate when he cut around the Knights’ strong defense to push the Tommies toward victory. Riedeman had three rebounds and went 6-for-13 from the field.
Riedeman said the team’s success in the second half stemmed from discussion in the locker room during halftime.
“We talked in the locker room (that) there’s still 20 minutes in the second half,” Riedeman said. “Just come out, keep building on our lead, get the lead and pressure.”
Guard Will DeBerg sank a three, pushing the Tommies’ lead to 73-63. DeBerg finished 3-for-5 from the field. Riedeman sealed the St. Thomas victory with a pair of free throws, finishing off Carleton 78-69.
Tauer said the team looks forward to preparing for Saturday’s game against Augsburg at 3 p.m. at home.
“They’re much like Carleton, they play a really smart style of basketball,” Tauer said. “We have to come out and execute on both ends.”
Sean Crotty can be reached at email@example.com.