Men’s basketball sweeps Occidental, Caltech over weekend

By Matt Edelman

The Macalester men’s basketball team worked hard this Thanksgiving, eschewing the traditional family feast for a trip out to the West Coast to take on SCIAC foes Occidental College and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on November 23 and 24. The trip started out on a high note, as the team’s hot free throw shooting (28-30) was just too much for Occidental to overcome down the stretch. The team was paced by a combined 37 points by guard/forward Pierce Peters ’13 (Minnewaska Area) and forward Sam Marshall ’13 (Sun Prairie, WI) and buoyed by big contributions of 12 points and 4 assists from guard Dylan Kilgour ’16 (La Crescenta, CA) and 9 points from guard Andrew Matsumoto ’13 (Rochester, MN). The team was very pleased to pick up the victory in a closely contested matchup. “It felt really good to stay poised as a team and win that game,” Marshall said. “I feel like that is one we wouldn’t have won last season. Some of the freshmen, particularly Dylan Kilgour, made big contributions.” Less than 24 hours later, the Scots shook off tired legs to break a 28-28 halftime deadlock with Caltech with a dominant 45-33 second half performance to take the game 73-61 and avenge a bitter defeat from last season. Again, senior leaders Marshall and Peters led the way for the Scots, combining to contribute 39 of the team’s 73 points. Point-Forward Hans Erickson ’15 (La Crosse, WI) added 13 and Kilgour poured in 11, including 9 from long range for the Scots. The pair of non-conference victories pushed the team’s record to 3-1 on the season, on the heels of competitive scraps with Northwestern-Roseville (a 79-71 loss on November 20) and Wisconsin Lutheran (a 62-51 win on November 16) at the Leonard Center. On the cusp of the start of the extremely competitive MIAC slate, the Scots are feeling optimistic about their chances for success and improvement in the league standings. “At this point last year, we were coming off of some disappointing non-conference losses, so it feels encouraging to have played well in preparation for the conference season this year,” Peters said. “We are feeling a lot more confident and are ready to come out and deliver our best effort and compete every night.” Marshall echoed those feelings and added, “the team is young and confident, and we know that we can play with any team on our schedule on any given night.” The stage is set for a big step forward by the Scots, who only graduated one player (Forward Patrick Piepkorn ’12) from last season’s squad that struggled to a 1-19 conference record and 1-24 record overall. They return the vast majority of their scoring and rebounding from last season to go along with a massive recruiting class of nine first years that promises to totally reshape the team. The team’s veterans have been quick to heap praise on the entire freshman class for their contribution to turning the team around. “Thanks to the freshmen, the team has an entirely renewed sense of energy,” Erickson said. Peters also praised the younger players’ energy level this season. “It has had an impact on everybody, including the upperclassmen and the coaching staff,” Peters said. “It is great to have that higher level of energy in practice and it helps everybody improve.” The team’s freshmen haven’t been content to sit and the bench and wait to contribute, as several of them have played significant minutes in the teams out of conference slate. Kilgour and Kyle Bernhard ‘16 (Sleepy Hollow, IL) have formed a potent backcourt duo, starting all four games alongside each other. That being said, the most important contribution of the big freshmen class has been adding significant depth to the Scots all over the floor. Last season, the team was painfully thin off the bench, and it made improvement difficult. “Sometimes, last season, we would only have eight or nine guys in practice at a time,” Marshall said.

This year, we have a full squad, and it makes things a lot easier. The freshmen have brought a lot of hunger and that helps during practices. The second unit is pushing us a lot, playing aggressively and challenging us [the starters] in ways that the second unit wasn’t always able to last season.” This year’s edition of the Scots boasts a deep roster of 17 players, a significant step up from last year’s Scots that carried just 12 players and were forced by injury to mix and match in the backcourt. Unfortunately, the Scots started off MIAC play with a ­­­­88-40 setback at the hands of 2011 national champion and defending MIAC champion St. Thomas on Wednesday November 28. Peters led the team with 15 points and 6 rebounds including 6-6 FT shooting), and Kilgour added 10 points. Although the Scots kept the game close in the first half, they were ultimately undone by 26 team turnovers. The team next plays Saturday, December 1 against St. Thomas at 3 p.m. in the Leonard Center. refresh –>