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ISSUE 120 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/6/2006

Basketball cruises to overtime win

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Opening their conference home schedule against Concordia on Monday, the St. Olaf men'’s basketball team managed a disciplined come-from-behind effort to earn its first league win, 64-62 in overtime.

The Oles trailed by as many as eight in the second half, utilizing a series of runs to cut the deficit to three with 29 seconds left.

Out of a timeout, guard Steve Banick ’'08 stroked a jump shot to tie the score. Immediately, the Oles fouled Eric Meichsner, who capitalized on 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, increasing the Cobber lead to two. Banick then cruised the length of the floor, avoiding Cobber defenders, and finding teammate Chad Norberg ’'08 underneath who easily scored to send the game to overtime.

St. Olaf dominated the overtime, outscoring Concordia 12-4 and scoring the final eight points.

"“We needed this win to get back on track,"” guard Matt Christensen '’09 said, referring to the Oles’' opening conference loss to St. Thomas. "“We want to build momentum in the conference."”

The Cobbers’' unlucky streak continued with its third overtime loss of the season. On Nov. 29, Concordia was dealt a six-point loss to conference power St. John'’s.

A familiar story for the Oles in the early going has been their balanced scoring attack. On Monday, five St. Olaf players scored in double figures, including Banick with 16, Jon Bain ’'07 and Norberg with 14 and Bobby Hunter '’08 adding 13 off the bench.

On Saturday, the men traveled to St. Thomas to take on the no. 7 ranked Tommies, who shut down the Oles defensively and ran up and down in schoolyard fashion, displaying the concept of fast-break basketball at St. Olaf'’s expense.

Although the scoring is balanced, St. Olaf must improve on the glass, as they currently rank last in the MIAC in rebounding margin, if they hope to make a run at a playoff berth and play to the style head coach Dan Kosmoski loves: to run in transition.

“"Coach [Kosmoski] has been stressing rebounding all season long,”" Christensen said. "We need to box out, but the main thing is being more physical not only on the glass, but in all aspects of the game. Rebounding is our number one priority at this point in the season.”"

Scoring woes are giving the men headaches as well, as aggressiveness on the boards normally contributes to scoring offense, a stat the Oles currently rank last in.

“"We are working on finding a rhythm in our motion offense,”" Christensen said. “"Offensive productivity has been a focus in practice, so hopefully that will carry over to our games.”"

Defensively, however, the Oles have shown flashes of toughness, ranking fourth in the MIAC in total defense, giving up an average of 75.5 points.

Wednesday night, the Oles dropped a close game to Augsburg 69-59. Mark Bergstrom led the way with 17 points, but St. Olaf could not overcome a 22-4 Auggie run to end the first half.

St. Olaf (3-4 overall, 1-2 MIAC) invites Hamline to the Skoglund gym on Dec. 6 for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. Following this contest, the Oles are idle until Dec. 30 when they take on Nebraska Wesleyan University.

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