Auggies beat Tommies with 23-4 second-half scoring run

Forward Connor Bair put up 13 points and six rebounds off the bench Monday night at Schoenecker Arena as the St. Thomas men’s basketball team fell to Augsburg 62-52.

Despite double-digit scoring efforts from Bair, center Ryan Boll and forward Michael Hannon, the Tommies’ (4-3 MIAC, 6-6 overall) dropped back to .500 after getting to a season-high two games over in January.

The teams entered halftime tied at 28 points. Early in the second half the game began to slip from the Tommies’ grasp as the Auggies (6-2 MIAC, 11-2 overall) rattled off a torrid 23-4 scoring run from which St. Thomas was never able to recover.

“I thought our effort on defense was good tonight. We weren’t as tough on offense as we needed to be,” coach John Tauer said. “We need to be more diligent about getting the ball inside.”

The Tommies shot a woeful 4-28, or fourteen percent, from three-point range. While Monday night’s cold shooting performance was an outlier in the Tommies’ season performances, outside shooting has been an area of concern all season for the team.

“Going forward, we need to be able to shoot the ball better,” Bair said. “Throughout this whole season, we’ve struggled shooting the ball and we need to do a better job of that.”

Finding time to correct shooting woes may be difficult this time of year. St. Thomas currently faces a hectic portion of its schedule, playing six games in the next 14 days.

Hannon is confident that St. Thomas will be able turn around its shooting in the second half of the season.

“We’ll get in the gym and put in the extra time needed to fix those things,” Hannon said. “Guys are only taking one or zero classes (during J-term), so we have a lot of time to get shots up and workouts in, along with time for rehab to get healthy.”

Hannon quickly put action to those words. Just minutes after the conclusion of Monday night’s game, Hannon was in the gym putting practicing shooting.

St. Thomas heads north to play Concordia-Moorhead Wednesday with a chance to claim a second victory this season against the Cobbers. Tauer said immediate change needs to happen for Wednesday night’s contest.

“If we don’t take care of the ball, if we’re not tougher in terms of finding a way to get paint points and get to the free throw line, then we’re going to have similar struggles,” Tauer said. “We need to regroup and be better on Wednesday.”

Kyle Manderfeld can be reached at mand4052@stthomas.edu.

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