Men’s Hoops Falls Short in Tough Playoff Loss

Men’s Hoops Falls Short in Tough Playoff Loss

Sam Casillas, Contributing Writer

For the third time this season, the Scots faced off against St. Olaf College. 

Only this time, the stakes were a bit higher:  a trip to the MIAC semifinals was on the line. 

In a packed Alumni Gymnasium, the matchup between the two teams surely did not disappoint. With neither team carrying a lead bigger than six points, both teams took turns in a back and forth showdown that resulted in seven lead changes throughout the contest. At the beginning of the second half, the Scots looked to pull away, jumping out to a game-high six-point lead after a Coby Gold ’25 shot from beyond the arc electrified the home crowd,; but it was not to be. The game descended into a grinding, low-scoring affair, with both teams trading gritty defensive stands. 

As the game wore down, the Oles held the lead. Being down by just two points, the Scots’ stalwart defense stood tall, as they were able to force a huge turnover with just 13 seconds remaining. After a St. Olaf defender touched the ball, causing it to go out of bounds on the Scots’ final possession, the Scots were given one last opportunity, only this time with just under a second on the game clock. 

With just seven tenths of a second to shoot, the Scots were able to inbound the ball to season standout guard Caleb Williams ’24, who was forced to heave up a tough fadeaway corner three-pointer, hoping to recreate the same heroics against the Oles as he displayed in the teams’ last meeting. As the final buzzer sounded, the ball bounced off the front of the rim, and the shot was no good, allowing the Oles to advance to the semifinal round to face Saint John’s University on Feb. 24. 

Before leaving the court, the packed gym rose to its feet and provided the team with a final standing ovation, serenading the Scots at the end of a thrilling season.

Amidst the loss, the Scots had several standout performances. Williams rose to the top of the scoring sheets with 21 points, capping off an extraordinary year, where he scored 21.5 points per game, a team high for the Scots. Badou Ba ’25 was everywhere on the boards, as usual, racking up 12 rebounds and 2 blocks, as well as a highlight poster slam dunk over St. Olaf’s Connor Martin. The lockdown defense of Robert Grace IV ’25 also shone through, relentlessly hounding Ole ball-handlers, getting bad shots and bad passes out of the visitors’ offense, along with forcing St. Olaf’s point guard into a crucial 10-second violation that set up the Scots’ final chances to tie the game up.

Despite the difficult loss, the fairly young Macalester squad will only be losing one graduating senior: Ahad Anjum ’23. With nearly the whole squad returning next season, the Scots look to come back even stronger in chase of a MIAC title.