Double overtime dooms Senior Day

Senior Pipers play with spirit but lack of depth undoes team versus playoff-bound St. Olaf.


Paul Patane

Pipers during a timeout break against the St. Olaf Oles on their senior day on Valentines Day 2015.

Paul Patane, Senior Reporter

The Pipers took the Oles to the limit, but came up short after 50 minutes in front of a home crowd on Senior Day in Hutton Arena on Saturday, Feb. 14. Hamline lost to St. Olaf 88-100, dropping their record to 10-13 (7-11 MIAC) before playing Augsburg to win their final home game 86-75 this past Monday, Feb. 16.

Senior forward Dior Ford impressed in regulation, but he literally played every second until the game was put away with less than a minute left in the second overtime. Ford scored 17 points, coming up with several big baskets throughout regulation. However, as the game progressed beyond the standard 40 minutes, he became increasingly tired and his offensive production vanished.

Forward Austin Johnson, also a senior, was knocked out of the game in the first half with a bloody nose. He returned shortly before the first half ended and played much of the second half with a bloody Kleenex jammed up his nostril and a smile on his face. Despite the injury, Austin scored 11 points and had a few critical rebounds.

Junior guard Travis Johnson scored 15 points and pulled down six rebounds. First-year guards Quinton Garvis and Zach Smith contributed with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Ford was proud of his team and their effort, even though Senior Day didn’t go exactly according to script. Ford admired the grit Austin displayed after being injured.

“He’s my partner-in-crime,” Ford said with a smile and sweat pouring down his face after the game ended.

Austin attributed much of his recent success to his attitude and work ethic as his Piper career draws to a close.

“For myself, these last few games, I’m bearing down and taking every game as if it’s my last,” Austin said.

Austin noticed similar effort from Ford.

“He knows it’s our last year. We’re trying to give it our all and make the playoffs,” Austin said.

Ford’s efforts can be seen on the scoreboard. He’s now fewer than 30 points away from climbing up to eighth place on the university’s all-time scoring list.

With back-to-back MIAC loses, the Pipers are on the outside looking in at a playoff berth, but they’ve proven they’re the real deal and will play hard the last week of the regular season.

Ford thinks if the team plays with the same effort they had against St. Olaf, good things will happen.

“We need to come out with the focus we had against St. Olaf,” Ford said.

The Pipers have gotten big contributions from players other than Ford and Austin this season, including solid play from Smith. As the season has progressed, Smith has seen a steady increase in minutes.

Austin knew early on that Smith was special and would help the team improve.

“I could tell he was going to make an impact right away. He’s stepped up the last couple games and he’s been a great addition,” Austin said.

Smith has progressed and grown more comfortable. He also conditions himself for the grueling season.

“In the offseason, I get in the weight room. In high school, I was always in the weight room, doing sprints and stuff. I also played a lot of pick-up basketball to work on getting my shot,” Smith said.

Smith learned fast that coaching comes different in college.

“Coach Hayes, he’s a little different from my high school coach. He’s more laid back and more of a teacher of the game,” Smith said.

Austin has been with Hayes for a couple seasons now, but he’s seen some differences in his coach in recent weeks.

“He’s a little bit more demanding. He knows we’ve got a ton of talent and we’ve been in the playoff race,” Austin said.

Soon, the Pipers will be without Ford and Austin on the court but younger players like Smith have learned a lot from the senior leaders.

“All the seniors are great. We’re a true team and that’s what makes it special and allowed us to go on our run,” Smith said.

In addition to Ford and Austin, guard Bennett Cooper and forward Marshall Jestings were honored as seniors on Saturday.

The Pipers play their last regular season game at conference juggernaut St. Thomas on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 3pm. St. Thomas and St. Olaf have both qualified for MIAC playoffs and they’re nationally ranked.