Tommies get past Ill. Wesleyan
St. Thomas (Minn.) advances into Round of 16
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Senior guard Tyler Nicolai scored 24 points to lead the No. 8 St. Thomas (Minn.) into the NCAA Third Round round for the second time in three seasons with Saturday night's 78-70 home-court victory against Illinois Wesleyan.
The Tommies (26-3) will play next Friday against last year's NCAA champion UW-Stevens Point at a site to be announced. Augustana (Ill.) will face Mary Hardin-Baylor in the other Friday game. One of those four teams will be announced as the host site.
The Tommies improved to 15-1 in their first season in the new Schoenecker Arena. That includes a 4-0 postseason mark over the last nine days. UST has a eight-game overall win streak, all in a 22-day span.
UST shot 52 percent from the floor and had only 10 turnovers while converting 20-of-26 foul shots. Their pressure helped force 19 turnovers by Illinois Wesleyan (20-9).
Senior Alex Healy had 15 points, six assists and no turnovers, senior Anders Halvorsen scored 13 points, and junior Tommy Hannon scored 12.
Sean Johnson scored 20 points and John Koschnitzky added 15 points and 10 boards for the Titans.
Nicolai hit three 3-pointers to fuel a 21-6 run late in the first half to erase the last Titan lead.
Illinois Wesleyan pulled within five points on an insde basket by Ryan Connolly with :06 to go in the half, but Nicolai raced up court and drained an NBA-range trey at the buzzer to extend the lead back to eight at halftime.
The Titans never got closer than six points in the second half. UST made 13-of-17 foul shots in the final 6:00 to keep a safe cushion.
Nicolai, who added four assists and four steals with no turnovers, has made 22-of-46 3-point shots in his last five games, and now has made 242 treys in 115 career games. In his last seven games, Nicolai has 29 assists and just two turnovers while averaging 37 minutes a game.
The St. Thomas senior class now has 102 wins in its era, including 11 postseason victories.