Chad Norberg '08 led the team with 23 points, while Steve Banick '08 chipped in with 19 points. Also contributing was Mark Bergstrom '07, who added 14 points in only 12 minutes on the floor, and Jon Bain '07, who grabbed 11 rebounds.
"I was really impressed with [Mark] Bergstroms effort last night," said head coach Dan Kosmoski, in his 12th year at the helm of the Oles. "He was able to provide a spark whenever he was called upon, and last night, that only happened to be for 12 minutes. Good teams need those types of players, and we are extremely happy we have one in Mark. "
Martin Luther surprised the Oles with their perimeter shooting. After Martin Luther guard Caleb Kurbis hit a 30-footer as time expired, the Knights trailed only by one.
"I give them a lot of credit," Kosmoski said. "They were able to make seven threes in the first half alone, which would be a solid number for most teams over the course of an entire game. Defensively, we had no choice but to switch on screens, which isn't ideal."
A huge factor for the Oles early on has been their rebounding. Before Monday's contest, St. Olaf was first in the MIAC in rebounding margin. The men outrebounded their opponent for the third time in as many tries. "I am a firm believer in the absolute importance of rebounding," Kosmoski said. "Recent MIAC history indicates a positive correlation of rebounding and conference standing."
However, Kosmoski wanted to be careful about making generalizations.
"We are only three games into the season, and yes, we are rebounding extremely well. However, we must continue to improve," he said. "We can always get better, and now is not the time to become complacent. Many of the Oles points came as a result of forcing turnovers and capitalizing on easy layups. In the half court, the Oles cut down on their turnovers, trimming in half their turnover totals from their game against Crown.
"We ran our motion offense well, and contributing to this were the solid screens we set and the reading of them," Kosmoski said. "We were able to move the ball around the perimeter, our passing was much improved, and therefore we found open looks at the basket."
Depth has proved to be a positive factor for the Oles thus far. Ten different players scored in the victory over Martin Luther.
"Our bench is really something we can take pride in. A lot of times, the bench is looked down upon and simply looked at as a way of giving the starters a quick break," Kosmoski said. "This isn't the case for us. We look to our substitutes as players that can give us a spark, such as Bergstrom tonight."
The Oles open their conference season Wednesday at Augsburg and travel to St. John's Saturday.