Men’s teams successful over weekend, Hannon to play in Australia

By  |  Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:58 AM

Men’s basketball rolls past Cardinals

Led by forward Conner Nord’s 16 points and 10 rebounds, the St. Thomas men’s basketball team remained undefeated in MIAC play with an 87-58 rout of St. Mary’s on Saturday in Winona, Minn.

St. Thomas went on a 9-0 run to start the game and never looked back. The Tommie defense forced 10 first-half Cardinal turnovers and paved the way to a 21-point Tommie lead at halftime.

“Our press is what got us such a big lead. We had a couple stretches where we had two or three steals in a row. We also had a big edge on the rebounds,” guard Dylan Stewart said.

The Tommies out-rebounded the Cardinals 43-26, and also grabbed 15 offensive boards. After dominating the first half, St. Thomas cruised through the second half en route to a 29-point win. Stewart credited the Tommie bench’s strong play with gaining and maintaining the team’s commanding lead.

“It’s important that when the starters are out of the game that there is no let up, and our depth on our team is a big advantage,” Stewart said. “When the starters for the other teams have to play a lot of minutes, it’s easy for them to get tired handling our pressure. So when we have fresh guys coming in continuing the pressure it’s a huge edge for us.”

The men will travel to Arden Hills Monday night to take on Bethel University, a team tied for third in the MIAC standings.

Men’s hockey starts slow, finishes strong

Goalies Joe Morris and Drew Fielding both posted wins for the St. Thomas men’s hockey team as it went 2-0 this weekend with wins over Finlandia (Mich.) Friday night and Wisconsin-Superior Saturday night.

Though Finlandia entered the game with just one win this season, St. Thomas went into the first intermission trailing 2-1. However the Tommies bounced back with four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory, and carried that momentum into their game on Saturday, a 3-0 win.

“Obviously being down a goal after the first period on Friday night wasn’t the start we were looking for,” forward Tyler Gubb said. “We just tried to build off the last two periods on Friday and keep getting better as a team throughout the weekend.”

The wins get the Tommies back on track after they suffered a 5-3 defeat at St. Norbert last weekend. Gubb credited the Tommie defense, which has not conceded a goal in its last five periods of play, with playing a key role in the wins this weekend.

“I thought we stuck to our systems to a ‘T’ on Saturday night,” Gubb said. “Everybody did their jobs in all areas of the rink and took pride in our defensive zone, which made playing the game a lot easier.”

The St. Thomas men will look to extend their winning streak next Saturday when they travel to Wisconsin to take on defending national champions Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Hannon signs to play pro basketball in Australia

St. Thomas graduate Tommy Hannon, who captained the 2013-2014 men’s basketball team, signed to play for the Goldfields Giants in the State Basketball League of Western Australia.

Hannon joins Will DeBerg as the second player from the 2012-2013 men’s basketball team to play professional basketball abroad. Hannon said DeBerg, who signed to play in France this fall, played a role in his decision to play in Australia.

“(DeBerg) said it was something he was definitely glad he tried … so that helped me make my decision,” Hannon said. “We were roommates, and we went through this process in the summer, and I talked to him about it.”

Hannon said he had “multiple offers” from teams in Europe throughout the summer and fall, but didn’t feel comfortable traveling to Europe without being able to communicate effectively with his potential coaches and teammates.

“I had an offer from a team in Switzerland, but I don’t speak French or German or anything, so I decided to pass,” Hannon said.

Hannon said being able to speak English as a primary language and knowing that there were other Americans on the team he would be playing for helped him make his decision. Hannon said in the end, he didn’t want to regret not taking the chance to play professional basketball later in life.

“I went to high school in St. Paul and college at St. Thomas and never really had the opportunity to leave Minnesota for the most part,” Hannon said. “I have the chance to play basketball as a job for a couple years, so I just thought I’d give it a shot … I thought I’d regret it when I was older if I didn’t try it.”

Hannon also credited his teammates and coaches at St. Thomas as one of the major reasons for his opportunity to play abroad.

“Playing against Conner Nord and Ryan Saarela every day in practice helps a lot. Those are two big guys, so having to compete against them every day really helped me be a better player,” Hannon said. “I don’t think I would have gotten this opportunity if it wasn’t for St. Thomas and Will (DeBerg) and coach Tauer. Those guys really helped out a lot.”

St. Thomas women’s hoops suffers first MIAC loss, bounces back Monday

Despite a 16-point and 15-rebound contribution from center Maggie Weiers, the St. Thomas women’s basketball team fell to St. Mary’s Saturday afternoon 56-54 in its first MIAC loss this season.

In the final minute of a back-and-forth game that saw 17 lead changes, the Tommies knotted the scoring at 54 on a guard Kelly Brandenburg layup with :25 remaining; however, St. Mary’s forward Courtney Euerle knocked down a jumper with :07 remaining, and the Cardinals hung on for the win.

“We never want to have to learn from losing, but this loss showed us that there are things on the offensive and defensive sides that we need to work on,” Brandenburg said. “Offensively, we need to get back to our fast pace where we are pushing the ball up the court and really look to capitalize when we get advantages.”

The Tommies struggled on offense and did not make one 3-pointer all game. Weiers admitted that her team felt frustrated at times, which affected their play.

“Almost all of their points in the first half were in transition, and then we kind of lost our cool in the second half and let them play to their strengths while we struggled a lot of offense,” Weiers said. “We just need to focus on us and playing to our standards. Regardless of the opponent, we need to always stay sharp and focused.”

On Monday, forward Taylor Young’s 23 points and 4 assists ignited the women to a 69-52 victory against Bethel University at Schoenecker Arena.

The Tommies snapped the Royals’ undefeated MIAC-record and moved to the top of conference standings.

Kyle Jonas and Jacob Sevening contributed to this report.

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