St. Peter, Minn. - After building a 17-point lead in a first half that featured 65.5-percent shooting from the field, the Gustavus men's basketball team saw Carleton come streaking back to cut the lead to as little as seven in the late stages of the second half. The Gusties countered with a 15-2 run to finish the game and pull away with a 74-54 victory on Monday night. With the win, Gustavus improves to 7-6 overall, 5-4 MIAC. Meanwhile, Carleton drops to 8-6 overall, 5-4 MIAC.
After giving up a Tom Sawatzke three-pointer on Carleton's first possession, Gustavus used a 20-6 run to gain an 11-point advantage in the opening minutes of the first half. Reed Sallstrom (Sr., Winthrop, Minn.) and Ben Biewen (Sr., Edina, Minn.) sparked the run with back-to-back layups. Jim Hill (Sr., Edina, Minn.) scored eight points in the run with a jumper and two treys. The run was capped off by consecutive layups from Blake Shay (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) to bring the score to 20-9 with 12:43 to play in the opening half.
Gustavus extended its lead to its peak of 17 points heading into the break with the score 48-31. In the half, the Gusties shot a blazing 65.5-percent (21-32) from the field, including a 55.6-percent (5-9) mark from behind the arc. The Gustie cagers were led by Hill, who poured in 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field in the first half. The senior also connected on 3-of-4 three-point attempts.
"We moved the ball really well in the first half," stated head coach Mark Hanson. "But in the second half, we tried to make plays that were out of our offense. We need to move the ball consistently."
After the break, the Gusties maintained their lead in the early going. Jordan Dick (Jr., Wabasha, Minn.) knocked down a triple with 12:05 to go to push the lead to 18 points. On the ensuing Carleton possession, Scott Theisen made good on a layup which sparked an 11-0 run for the Knights that cut the difference to seven with 8:22 remaining. Isaac Tapp ended a four-minute drought with a jumper from the left wing at the 8:04 mark.
Gustavus' next basket did not come until the 4:46 mark. It was Tapp again who turned his defense into offense. The sophomore converted a steal into a fastbreak layup. From there, the Gusties would finish the game on a 15-2 run to close out the 20-point victory.
"At times we allowed them to set their defense the way they wanted to, they made a couple steals, we handed them the ball some and all of a sudden it was a seven point game," mentioned Hanson. "Fortunately, we started to make some plays again after that."
The Gusties finished with three scorers in double-figures led by Jim Hill. Hill finished with 19 points and shot 8-for-16 from the field including a 3-for-6 mark from three-point range. Ben Biewen came next with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor and 2-for-4 from deep. He also added a team-high four assists and four steals. Isaac Tapp was the third Gustie in double figures with 11 points. Tapp cashed in on 5-of-8 field goal attempts and dished out three assists.
With only six players registering playing time, four of them scored in double-figures. Tom Sawatzke led the way with 13 points. He also added four steals and three rebounds. Scott Theisen and Tyler Goetz each registered 12 points. Theisen grabbed a team-high six rebounds, and Goetz knocked down four triples. John Eckert was the final Knight in double-digits with 11 points.
The Gusties take to the road on Wednesday night when they travel to Minneapolis to take on Augsburg. Opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m.