March 7, 2009

Courtesy of St. Thomas (Minn.) Athletics

Joe Scott scored 12 points and the No. 1-ranked Tommies went 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final 4:00 to outlast No. 4-ranked UW-Stevens Point, 53-50, in Saturday night’s second-round NCAA men’s basketball playoff game at sold-out Schoenecker Arena.

The Tommies (29-0), who improved to 16-0 at home this season, advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth time in program history but first time in 15 seasons.

St. Thomas, Washington (Mo.) and Wheaton (Ill.) and one Washington state team will play next weekend at a site to be announced Sunday evening.

It was the eighth time in the last 15 games the Tommies held an opponent to 51 or less points, and they helped limit the Pointer starters to just 31 points. Stevens Point (24-5) came away with just one point on three pivotal late possessions. The Pointers’ senior guard Khalifa El-Amin, who had 17 points in Friday’s win, went scoreless in 36 minutes in an otherwise excellent floor and defensive game.

Both teams shot 35% from the floor, made 11-of-16 at the line and were within one rebound and three turnovers of each other in dead-even stat sheet.

Sophomore guard Tyler Nicolai made two free throws with 1:57 left for a 49-46 lead. Matt Moses made one of two free throws with 21 seconds left for a 49-47 deficit, but the Pointers were forced to foul. B.J. Viau made both free throws with 18 seconds left to push the lead to 51-47.

UST senior center Al McCoy rebounded a missed shot in the final 12 seconds and dished a long pass to Scott, whose dunk put the Toms ahead 53-47 with :07 left. Moses hit a long trey with only :02 left to pull Point within three. After a time out, St. Thomas was able to inbound the ball and burn off the last seconds.

Ten different players scored in the 53-point total for St. Thomas, which had just one turnover in the second half and nine on the game. Lonnie Robinson scored seven of his eight points in the second half, Viau had six points and 10 rebounds, and McCoy finished with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists. Brady Ervin played just nine minutes but scored two key baskets inside in the second half.

Moses had a game-high 16 points for Point, which was slowed by foul trouble in the final 15:00. Louis Hurd had 11 points and Nick Krull scored all nine of his points off the bench in the second half.