Second-Half Comeback Leads to 71-65 Overtime Victory at No. 3 St. Thomas
ST. PAUL, Minn.—Bethel University's men's basketball team trailed the No. 3-ranked University of St. Thomas 36-50 with 9:24 remaining in Wednesday night's road contest, but thanks to a 17-3 run over the next 6:28 the Royals were able to outlast the Tommies in overtime 71-65.
The triumph over St. Thomas marked the first time in program history that the Royals have taken down an opponent ranked No. 3 or higher. It's also the third time this season BU has defeated a ranked opponent and the second time its happened on the road.
The monumental second-half effort was due in large part to tremendous team defense and an exceptional frame by Bridgeport Tusler. BU held St. Thomas to 22.6 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes, including a 0-for-5 mark outside the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, Tusler scored 12 points in the second half on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Royals finished the game shooting 47 percent from the floor, but mustered just 37.5 percent from downtown and 59.1 percent from the charity stripe. Bethel forced the Tommies into 11 turnovers, opposed to their seven, and outscored St. Thomas in the paint 34-20, despite being outrebounded 44-31.
Brycen Wojta shook the dust off his recent skid and poured in 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. The sophomore guard was 4-of-5 from long range and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Kyle Zimmermann continued his routine of double-figure scoring, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Bridgeport Tusler's huge second half led to a 14-point and four-rebound performance.
Now 16-8 on the season and 12-7 in conference play, Bethel has locked in the No. 4 seed heading into the 2015 MIAC Playoffs. As a result BU is guaranteed a postseason home game and should they win, a rematch with St. Thomas in St. Paul. The Royals closeout their regular season on Saturday, Febraury 21 at 3 p.m. against Carleton College.