Riding senior guard Alex Healy’s 18 points, four steals and four assists, the No. 7 Tommies (10-0) routed visiting St. Mary’s (8-2) Monday 90-58.
St. Mary’s came out of the gates fast, taking advantage of a rusty Tommie team that had not played a game since Dec. 22. St. Mary’s hit nearly all its shots in the game’s opening minutes, forcing St. Thomas to call an early timeout to regroup.
“Basically [I told them] they had to get going,” coach Steve Fritz said. “We can’t stand around and play catch-up, and we had to be more aggressive on defense.”
Fritz’s message stuck, and it took the Tommies only a few possessions to cut the six-point deficit. Once St. Thomas had the lead, the team never trailed, going into halftime leading 42-35.
“Overall, we’re doing a lot of the things we need to do,” Fritz said.
St. Thomas started the second half with a vicious press and tough attitude. By forcing turnovers and capitalizing on St. Mary’s mistakes, the Tommies went on a 20-0 run with five players scoring in a six-minute span.
“We came out a lot more aggressive,” senior Anders Halvorsen said. “Our press was really working.”
The Tommie bench was the key to the team’s success, outscoring St. Mary’s bench 36-4. Six different players scored nine or more points for St. Thomas, and senior Tyler Nicolai led all players with five assists.
For the Cardinals, sophomore Chris Palmer had a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, and senior Will Wright added 18 points. St. Thomas out-shot St. Mary’s 60 percent to 37 percent and won its 22nd consecutive regular-season game.
Next up for St. Thomas is conference foe Carleton, which beat the Tommies in the playoffs last season. The Tommies will face Carleton Wednesday night at home.
“We’re going to keep last year in the back of our minds and work hard in practice,” Halvorsen said.
Ryan Shaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.