By Gene McGivern
Sports Information Director

The varsity sports weekend at St. Thomas gets an early start with makeup basketball games Thursday — one home, one away. St. Thomas students, staff and faculty are admitted free to all home games with their school ID card.

The women’s basketball team, ranked third nationally, hosts 13th-ranked St. Ben’s Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Schoenecker Arena. The Tommy women went into Wednesday night’s game at St. Mary’s with a 14-1 record. UST and St. Ben’s went into Wednesday with 11-1 conference records to share first place. The St. Mary’s and St. Ben’s games begin a busy stretch for UST with five games in eight days. St. Thomas also plays a Saturday game at Gustavus (3 p.m.), a Monday home game vs. Augsburg (7:30 p.m.), and a Jan. 7 home game vs. Concordia-Moorhead (5:30 p.m.).

The UST men’s basketball team continues its quest for a top-four MIAC finish this week. The Tommies, who started the week 12-4 overall and 8-4 in the MIAC, played Wednesday night at St. Mary’s, and travels Thursday to Collegeville to face the Johnnies (5:15 JV, 7:30 varsity). The Tommies also play first-place Gustavus Saturday at Schoenecker Arena (1 p.m. junior varsity, 3 p.m. varsity); travel to Augsburg Monday (5:15 JV, 7:30 varsity); then host Concordia-Moorhead Wednesday (7:30 p.m. varsity).

The Tommy men’s hockey team has won five consecutive games and plays St. Olaf this weekend — Friday in Northfield (7 p.m.) and Saturday at the Fairgrounds Coliseum (7 p.m.). UST junior Tony Lawrence was named MIAC Player of the Week Tuesday after scoring six goals in two wins over St. Mary’s last weekend. The Tommies, bidding for a top-two MIAC finish, moved over .500 for the first time this season and are 10-8-3 overall and 7-3-2 in the conference.

The Tommy women’s hockey team can take a big step toward clinching its first MIAC playoff berth when it plays Augsburg this weekend in a weekend series — Friday at Minneapolis’ Parade Ice Garden (7 p.m.) and Saturday at Augsburg (2 p.m.). The Tommies swept UW-Stevens Point last weekend to improve to 12-5-1 overall. A win or two ties vs. Augsburg will put the Tommies in great position to finish in the top four of the nine-team conference race and claim a playoff berth.

The Tommy men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete Saturday in the UW-LaCrosse Invitational. Both teams are preparing for the March 2-3 MIAC Championships in Collegeville.

The Tommy wrestling team competes Saturday in the UW-Eau Claire tournament and wrestles next Wednesday in a dual meet at UW-River Falls. The Tommies placed fifth of six teams in the MIAC Duals last weekend and are preparing for the Feb. 26 MIAC Championships in Collegeville.

The Tommy men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are off this weekend and are preparing for the Feb. 15-17 MIAC Championships at the University of Minnesota.

The Tommy men’s and women’s tennis teams host alumni meets Saturday in Coughlan Fieldhouse at 9:30 a.m. The women open their 2001 season Feb. 10 vs. Minnesota-Duluth, and the men start Feb. 11 at home vs. Nebraska-Kearney.