13-0 closing run by freshmen keeps St. Thomas streak alive

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Freshman guard Anders Nelson scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the final 4:00 to fuel a game-closing 13-0 run as No. 5-ranked St. Thomas outlasted host St. Olaf 85-78 in MIAC men's basketball play Wednesday night in Northfield.

St. Thomas (21-1 overall, 17-0 MIAC) won its 21st in a row and secured a share of the conference title with three games to go. It's the Tommies' 13th championship in the last 14 seasons, and seventh in eight seasons in John Tauer's head coaching tenure.

Tauer's team now has five second-half comeback victories in conference play, and has three MIAC road wins in a five-day span, two with late comebacks.

Nelson's two layup baskets pulled the Toms within 78-76. Freshman Riley Miller sank a trey with 1:59 left to put St. Thomas ahead to stay. Nelson added a layup with 70 seconds to go, then made 4-of-4 free throws in the final minute as a parade of Ole 3-point tries missed the mark down the stretch.

The Toms had only nine turnovers, shot 50 percent from the floor, and made 10-of-10 at the foul line. They had five players score in double figures, and posted a 38-18 advantage in bench points.

Nelson finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes. Burt Hedstrom scored 13, Elijah Hannah had 12 points, Miller added 11 points, and Connor Bair scored 10.

The Toms can win the MIAC title outright with one win or one St. John's loss over the last eight days of the regular season. St. Thomas is home Saturday to face Augsburg.