Cobbers men stun No. 1-ranked St. Thomas
MOORHEAD - Jason Huus was the biggest player on the court Monday night at Memorial Auditorium and his performance was just as large in crunch time.
The 6-foot-10 center scored Concordia's final seven points. His effort helped the Cobbers earn a dramatic 54-52 victory against No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten St. Thomas in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball.
"It was the best moment of my life by far," said Huus, who finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. "The No. 1 team in the nation, we beat them. It's just wonderful."
The Cobbers (11-6, 8-4 MIAC) snapped a two-game losing streak. The victory marked the first time Concordia has beaten a top-ranked team in Division III men's basketball, according to Cobbers sports information director Jim Cella.
"I have a lot of respect for their program," Concordia head coach Rich Glas said of the Tommies. "They are a solid program in everything that they do and it's just great to go out there and win that basketball game. It's a good feeling."
St. Thomas (16-1, 11-1) had won its past 18 games against MIAC opponents dating back to last season. The Tommies had won the previous nine meetings against the Cobbers. Concordia hadn't defeated St. Thomas since Feb. 20, 2008, when the Cobbers earned a 67-57 home victory.
"I give Concordia a lot of credit," said St. Thomas head coach Johnny Tauer. "They played a really disciplined game. They knocked down some big shots and they were physical inside. Hats off to them. They outplayed us tonight."
Huus scored the game-winning points with 30 seconds remaining when the senior sank two foul shots that gave the Cobbers a 54-52 lead. Huus started his clutch play by scoring off a rebound to give Concordia a 49-43 lead with 5 minutes, 57 seconds remaining. He added another foul shot and a putback before his game-winning foul shots. Huus also had a critical blocked shot in the lane with less than three minutes remaining.
"We had great effort and Huus was one of those guys that really had a great effort," Glas said. "He was taking his big body to the rim."
St. Thomas had a chance for the victory in the final seconds. Tommies guard Marcus Alipate had a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that bounced off the rim. After the missed shot, the Concordia student section stormed the court.
"It's just a huge win for the program," said Cobbers senior guard Andrew Martinson, who scored all of his team-high 11 points in the second half. "It was awesome. It was a fun game."
The Cobbers limited St. Thomas to 37 percent (19 of 51) shooting from the field. St. Thomas was averaging 87.2 points per game heading into Monday's game.
"We just kept playing defense," said Huus, a former Perham (Minn.) High School standout. "We played hard defense."
St. Thomas junior forward Zach Riedeman finished with a game-high 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. The Tommies led by as many as seven points early in the second half before the Cobbers rallied.
"I think a lot our people look at our record and underrate how good our conference is night in and night out," Tauer said. "We knew it would be a battle tonight. We don't ever like to lose. Hopefully, we learn from it. Concordia did a lot of good things."
ST. THOMAS (16-1, 11-1 MIAC): Riedeman 6-8 1-2 14, Hannon 1-8 1-4 3, Alipate 0-2 0-0 0, DeBerg 3-10 2-2 10, Nance 4-7 1-4 9, Tengwall 2-3 2-2 7, Tillman 0-1 0-0 0, Montero 1-3 0-0 2, Pella 0-2 1-2 1, Nord 2-7 2-2 6. Totals 19-51 10-18 52.
CONCORDIA (11-6, 8-4): Fisher 0-4 0-0 0, Huus 3-6 3-5 9, McKenzie 4-9 2-3 10, Nana-Kweson 4-9 2-3 10, Lindahl 2-8 0-0 5, Rude 0-1 0-0 0, Martinson 4-7 0-0 11, Bolger 4-5 0-0 10, Flotterud 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 21-53 6-10 54.
Half: UST 26, CC 23. 3-point goals: UST 4-14 (Riedeman 1-1, Alipate 0-2, DeBerg 2-7, Tengwall 1-1, Tillman 0-1, Montero 0-2), CC 6-20 (Fisher 0-2, McKenzie 0-2, Nana-Kweson 0-3, Lindahl 1-4, Rude 0-1, Martinson 3-6, Bolger 2-2). Total fouls: UST 12, CC 14. Rebounds: UST 32 (Nord 6), CC 36 (Huus 11). Assists: UST 7 (Nord 3), CC 11 (Nana-Kweson 4). Steals: UST 2 (Riedeman, Hannon), CC 2 (Huus, Nana-Kweson). Turnovers: UST 4 (four players with 1), CC 8 (three players with 2).