Nicolai’s game-winner lifts men’s basketball past Carleton

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A thrilling buzzer-beater by senior All-American guard Tyler Nicolai lifted the Tommies (11-0) over Carleton (5-5) Wednesday 62-59.

With the game tied at 59 and 6.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Nicolai brought the ball up the court and drained a 3-pointer as time expired.

“It was an isolation [play] at the top of the key, and it took me a little while to get going,” Nicolai said. “I kind of got confused in the huddle, but it worked out pretty well.”

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Senior Tyler Nicolai’s game-winning, buzzer-beater shot against Carleton.

The No. 5-ranked Tommies trailed the Knights by six points at the half while shooting 37 percent from the field.

“We got the ball in the lane a lot tonight,” coach Steve Fritz said. “We just didn’t finish a lot of things.”

The team started the second half with a full-court press, forcing the Knights to turn the ball over 10 times, and 15 times on the night.

When we don’t have energy, we don’t play very well, so we got to get our energy up and play a lot harder,” Nicolai said.

St. Thomas out-rebounded Carleton 38-28, and junior center Tommy Hannon brought down a career-high 19 boards. Hannon also scored 14 points to give the Tommies their 11th win of the season.

“We knew coming into it that it was going to be physical,” Hannon said. “We went against these guys last year, and the big guys are pretty good.”

Nicolai scored 16 points and had five steals and four assists on the night, while senior guard Alex Healy added 16 points of his own to the Tommie win.

“It feels good to be on top,” Nicolai said. “We have a lot of tough games coming up, so we have to stay focused and keep winning.”

The team will host Gustavus, the MIAC’s second-ranked team, at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Michael Ewen can be reached at