Hot shooting not enough for Pipers

The team loses two close conference games despite better offensive play.


Taylor Geer

Sophomore Zach Smith makes a drive for the basket in the game on Feb. 10.

Jake Kjos, Senior Reporter

Passes hit their marks, shots fell from all over the court, but the men’s basketball team still fell short in conference games against Concordia and Gustavus Adolphus.

At home against Concordia on Feb. 10, Hamline led for the majority of the first half until senior Concordia forward Jordan Bolger took over. Bolger finished the first half with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Sophomore guard Zach Smith talked about what it was like to play against an experienced player such as Bolger.

“He’s leading the conference in scoring. He always goes hard. He’s a really good player. The gameplan was to double team him. It worked for about the first three times but then he adjusted and got passes to the other big man for layups,” Smith said.

Hamline shot nearly 55% from the field in the first half, yet head coach Jim Hayes and senior center Herbert Tarpeh  thought the team could have done more.

“Coach thought we didn’t play well to start. They came out pretty hot. We started off kinda slow and tentatively,” Tarpeh said.

Concordia scored off an inbounds play right before the half to put the Pipers down 39-46.

Smith started the second half scoring for the Pipers with a three-pointer and made a key pass to Tarpeh who hit a jump shot.  Sophomore guard Bret Lukes found his shot in the second half, as he scored seven consecutive points to cut the deficit to 54-57.

Lukes discussed some of the reasons behind his strong play.

“I’ve had a few different roles. Coaches have wanted to see me shoot the ball more and be more aggressive. That also helps me be more engaged on the defensive side of the ball,” Lukes said.

Lukes also made multiple jumpers off a drawn up inbounds play involving a screen.

“It’s a play that we’ve had all season. It just happened to be me that got open and I shot it,” Lukes said.

The defense also held Bolger to a quiet five points in the first ten minutes of the second half, but a number of fouls put the Cobbers into the bonus early.

Smith and Lukes alternated scoring runs to carry the offense, and a three by Lukes had the Pipers down four points with five minutes remaining.

Late in the game, a clear path foul was called that coach Hayes didn’t agree with. A technical foul was called on him, and the Cobbers made four straight free throws. Tarpeh was surprised by the sequence.

“That was the first time I’ve ever seen him get a technical,” Tarpeh said.

At the end, the early fouls became too much to overcome as the Pipers lost 79-88. Bolger led the Cobbers with 32 points, while Smith and Lukes had 25 and 20 points respectively.

Smith talked about what it was like for the team to make so many of their shots.

“We obviously shot the ball well. I think we shot 50%. Unfortunately they shot 57%. We fought extremely hard, better than the last time we played them,” Smith said.

Coming off of the tough loss, the team traveled to play Gustavus Adolphus on Feb. 13. The Pipers shot a scorching 65% in the first half and went 7-11 on three point attempts to take a 51-35 lead. Zach Smith scored 23 points on 8-12 shooting while first-year forward Connor Knutson added eight points of his own.

The Gustavus seniors took charge in the second half to rally the team and push the game into overtime, where Hamline fell 91-101. Smith finished with 31 points, and both teams had five players score double digits.

Smith noted two things the team has had difficulties with this season.

“Size and leadership, we’re probably the smallest team in the conference. We don’t have a lot of upperclassmen,” Smith said.

Tarpeh, the lone senior on the roster, sees the youth of the team as a positive going forward.

“We have a completely new team. I think they’re gonna figure it out. Every game we’ve competed. They’re gonna step up,” Tarpeh said.

The Pipers play their last home game of the season against Bethel on Feb. 20.