The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rounded the corner of the first half of conference play and continued the trek to the MIAC Playoffs in late February. St. Thomas and Gustavus are separating themselves from the rest of the pack, but there are eight teams vying for the final four playoff spots.
Highlights of the week include Nate Robertson becoming the 25th member of Bethel’s 1,000-point club and Carleton celebrating 100 years of Knights’ basketball with a big win as they move back into the playoff chase.
AUGSBURG 73, SAINT MARY’S 66</strong>
The Auggies, behind solid play from their bench, pulled away from the Cardinals and took home a 73-66 win. Augsburg’s bench outscored their counterparts 32-11, providing the spark for the victory.
Both teams handled the ball exceptionally well. Augsburg committed just six turnovers and SMU had only seven miscues. The Auggies shot 45.5% from the floor while limiting the Cards to 39.7% shooting. Augsburg connected on 15-of-21 second half free throws. SMU only went to the line 15 times in the game, converting 10.
Andy Grzesiak-Grimm, with six rebounds, a career-best five blocked shots and nine points, led the Auggies. Jon Cassens and Matthew Quammen each tallied 13 points and David Olson added 12.
Will Wright led all scorers with 19 points; he tallied 17 of those in the second half. Chris Palmer posted his third double-double in the past four games, scoring 13 points to go with 12 rebounds. He also doled out four assists. Lukas Holland dropped in 14 points for SMU.
The Cardinals took a quick 6-2 lead, but the Auggies roared back, scoring five unanswered points to take the lead, 7-6. The bulk of the first half was nip-and –tuck but Augsburg closed the half with an 11-5 run to take a 31-25 advantage into the locker room.
Saint Mary’s’ offense came to life early in the second half, scoring nine straight points on a pair of baskets by Wright and a triple and a layup by Holland, pulling to a 34-32 edge. Augsburg countered with a 14-3 run midway through the final stanza to build their biggest lead of the game, 65-51. Five points each from Quammen and Brett Sorenson and four by Cassens fueled the spurt.
Holland and Wright countered by scoring eight of the SMU’s points during an 11-2, cutting the gap to five, 67-62, with 1:53 on the clock. That, however, would be as close as they would get, as Augsburg made six free throws – four by Cassens - down the stretch to seal the win.
<strong>BETHEL 70, CARLETON 61</strong>
The Royals used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to take the lead for good and played stout defense the rest of the way, holding off the Knights, 70-61.
Carleton opened the game with a 12-5 run, capped by a jumper by Carter Biewen. The teams battled back and forth over the next 10 minutes before Bethel closed the half with a 16-8 run to take a 37-34 edge into the break. Nate Robertson, who tallied 13 first half points, punctuated that run with a dunk just before the buzzer.
Bethel increased its lead to seven early in the second half before Carleton erupted for a 9-2 spurt to tie the game at 45-45. Tom Sawatzke capped the run with a trey. Chris Vavra responded with a jumper, igniting a 10-0 run by Bethel and the Royals did not look back. A layup by Vavra extended the lead to 12 with 5:58 to play. Carleton managed to pull as close as six down the stretch but Bethel’s defense would not allow them any closer.
Robertson posted a solid stats line. He scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed a game-best 12 rebounds. He also had a pair of blocks and a pair of assists. Vavra finished with 14 points and three assists. Daniel Baah also scored 14, while notching three steals.
Bryan Rosett, who scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds, led Carleton. Jeremy Sutherland added 10 points and five blocked shots, while Biewen had six points and eight rebounds.
<strong>GUSTAVUS 76, SANT JOHN’S 65</strong>
The Gusties built an early lead and used clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to preserve the margin and take home a 76-65 win over the Johnnies.
Gustavus outshot SJU 44.4% to 38.7% and held a 40-30 edge off the glass. The Gusties were 18-for-26 from the charity striped, including 10-of-12 in the final minutes. Both teams took care of the rock, with GAC committing only nine turnovers to the Johnnies 10.
Four Gustavus players reached double figures. They were paced by Phil Wirtjes and Ryan McPartland, who each tallied 15. Wirtjes also had four assists while McPartland pulled down five boards. Jesse Van Sickle added 14 points, and Sam Paulson chipped in 12, with six rebounds.
For the Johnnies, Aaron Burtzel posted yet another double-double, as he scored 15 while nabbing 13 rebounds. Sam Blank came off the bench to drop in six treys and finished with 18 points. Aaron Barmore added nine points and Andy Burns doled out four assists.
After spotting the Johnnies a 1-0 lead, the Gusties used a 10-5 run to stake an early lead. SJU trimmed that down to a point but GAC erupted for a 20-8 outburst, pulling out to a 31-18 lead. SJU trimmed the margin to seven (36-29) at the half.
SJU used a 10-3 run midway through the second half to close within one, but a jumper by Seth Anderson kicked off a 10-0 run that wrapped up the game for Gustavus. The Gusties’ steady hands at the free throw line over the final 2:30 sent them home with the win.
<strong>ST. OLAF 70, CONCORDIA 62</strong>
Alfred Jaryan and Joe Weber each tallied 18 points to lead the Oles to a 70-62 decision over the Cobbers. It was St Olaf’s fourth consecutive win and Concordia’s third loss in a row.
All of Weber’s points came from behind the arc, as he was six-for-seven from three-point land. Jaryan was six-for-11 from the field, including a pair of threes. He added three assists. Stu Neville chipped in 13 points and five rebounds, while Bobby Fong grabbed six boards to go with his four points and two steals.
Concordia’s Darrin Olmscheid led all scorers with 19 points. He also snagged eight rebounds. John Fraase posted a double-double, with 14 boards and 11 points. He also had three steals and a pair of assists. Karl Olson was six-for-six from the charity line en route to an 11 point night.
The Cobbers crafted a 14-7 lead over the first nine minutes of action. That lead vanished quickly as Weber rippled the net for a trio of threes, putting the Oles on top, 26-25. They closed the half with a 9-3 run to take a 37-30 margin into the intermission.
St. Olaf extended its lead to as many as 13 in the second stanza, and never allowed Concordia to draw closer than four.
<strong>ST. THOMAS 80, HAMLINE 63
The Tommies overcame the foul-happy Pipers, turning 36 HU fouls into 32 points from the charity stripe and rolled past Hamline 80-63.
Hamline was whistled for 21 personal fouls and a pair of technical fouls in the second half alone. All 12 Pipers that took the court were called for at least one foul.
St. Thomas used 14 players, 13 of whom scored, as Coach Steve Fritz substituted freely. The Toms shot 44.2% from the floor for the night, including 45.5% in the second half. The shorter Tommies held a 42-34 edge off the glass as well. UST’s pressure defense tallied 13 steals and forced 22 miscues by Hamline. UST held a 33-24 advantage in points scored off the bench.
UST was led by Tyler Nicolai, who scored 16 points, while pilfering the ball four times. He also dished out three assists. Joe Scott dropped in 13 points, to go with four boards, two assists, a pair of steals and a blocked shot. Tommy Hannon had a game-high nine rebounds and added seven points and three steals. Alex Healy had eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Ray Brown led Hamline with 11 points and six rebounds. Carl Hipp added 10 points and five rebounds, along with a pair of blocked shots. Victor Easter tallied nine points while handing out three assists. Nick Carroll had five assists, six points, six rebounds and two steals.
Hamline scored first and took an early 5-4 lead. Teddy Archer ignited a 13-0 outburst with five quick points and the Tommies were rolling. They led by 12 with three minutes remaining in the first half, but Hamline closed the half with an 8-0 run to send the teams into the locker rooms with UST on top 36-32.
UST used a 12-2 run early in the second half to break the game open and take a 58-43 lead. The lead grew to as many as 19 as Hamline sent a parade of Tommies to the free throw line.
CARLETON 60, GUSTAVUS 55</strong>
The Knights, who led from start to finish, held on for a thrilling 60-55 win at Gustavus, knocking the Gusties out of first place and keeping Carleton’s playoff hopes alive.
Carleton won the game despite not scoring a basket in the final 4:52 of the game; they did tally six clutch free throws in that stretch to secure the win.
Gustavus started the game icy cold, missing its first five shots and shooting just 36.4% in the first half. Carleton shot 47.8% in the opening stanza as they opened the game with a 15-6 run. The Gusties shooting thawed out and they battled back to tie the game 15-15. Carleton responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by five points from Carter Biewen. GAC scored the final five points of the first half but Carleton took a 27-22 lead into the break.
The Gusties opened the second half with a 5-0 outburst, pulling within a bucket. Carleton pushed its lead to eight on three different occasions in the second half, but could never break away from the Gusties. Blaise Davis sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 0:06 left and the Knights took home the upset win.
Seth Jonker led Carleton with 17 points and five rebounds. He also had three assists and a blocked shot. Bryan Rosett tallied 14 points and six boards. Biewen finished with nine points. Carleton committed only eight turnovers.
Gustavus was led by Phil Wirtjes, who scored 13 points and pulled in six rebounds, while dishing out three assists. Seth Anderson poured in 12 points off the bench and handed out three assists while snagging three rebounds. Paul Blacklock chipped in eight rebounds as GAC held a 37-27 edge off the glass.
<strong>HAMLINE 72, AUGSBURG 52</strong>
The Pipers opened a big lead with hot shooting in the first half and played suffocating defense in the second to cruise past the Auggies, 72-52.
Hamline torched the net in the first half, draining 58.1% of its shots, including 85.7% from three-point range. They jumped to an early 20-12 lead. Augsburg pulled within four but a 7-0 spurt pushed Hamline back to a double-digit lead. They increased the margin to as many as 14 in the first half before settling for a 51-40 lead at the half.
The defense held Augsburg to 12 points in the second half as the Pipers coasted to the win. They limited the Auggies to 15.6% shooting in the second half including 0-for-9 from three-point land. Hamline held a 50-29 advantage in rebounds,
Ben Flavin scored 11 points to lead Augsburg. David Olson added 10 points and six rebounds. The Auggies are off until January 27, when they travel to St. Thomas. They host St. Olaf on Jan. 30. Augsburg is 7-4 in MIAC play and 12-4 overall.
Carl Hipp and Ray Brown both posted double-doubles for Hamline. Hipp scored 24, while Brown hit for 20; they both pulled down 12 rebounds. Hipp added three blocked shots. Jordan Schmidt dished out seven assists while scoring seven points.
<strong>SAINT JOHN’S 80, BETHEL 67</strong>
The Johnnies snapped a three-game losing streak, using a strong second half showing to get by the Royals, 80-67. The loss dampened a big night for Bethel’s Nate Robertson, who became the 25th member of the school’s 1,000-point club.
After a closely contested first half, SJU opened the second half with a 20-3 outburst, and never looked back. The Johnnies used a 37-21 rebounding advantage to outscore Bethel 28-18 in the paint and 18-4 on second chances. They forced 16 Royals’ turnovers and converted them into 30 points; BU turned the 12 Johnnie turnovers into only 14 points. SJU connected on 22-of-24 second half free throws and shot 85.7% from the line for the night.
Saint John’s was led by Aaron Burtzel, who scored 15 points with a game-high 13 rebounds and seven assists. Sam Blank added 14 points off the bench, while Andrew Latzke chipped in 13 points and Andy Burns tallied 12 points, three assists and three steals.
Bethel’s Daniel Baah scored a game-leading 16 points, pacing the Royals. Robertson chipped in 14 points with four rebounds and Greg Meyer added 13 points, with four rebounds and four assists.
<strong>SAINT MARY’S 78, MACALESTER 60</strong>
The Cardinals jumped to an early 10-0 lead and coasted to a 78-65 win over the Scots. SMU led from wire to wire.
Saint Mary’s “big three”- Will Wright, Lukas Holland and Chris Palmer- outscored Mac. Palmer finished with 24 points, Wright with 21 and Holland had 19. SMU shot 50.9% from the field for the night and held a 38-24 edge in rebounds. Holland led the way with seven rebounds, while Patrick Connolly pulled down six. The Cards forced 17 turnovers and committed 13.
Macalester was led by Paul Richie, who tallied 14 points, including four three-pointers. He also dished out five assists. Jerry Krause added 12 points and five rebounds. Pierce Peters posted 11 points, with a pair of steals and two blocked shots. Kyle Hamblett chipped in 10 points. The Scots shot only 38.5% in the first half but caught fire in the second half, torching the net at a 63.2% clip.
SMU jumped to a quick 10-0 lead and extended the margin to as many as 14 early in the game. The Scots pulled within five midway through the half, but SMU closed the half with a 17-7 run to take a 37-22 into the locker room.
Mac scored the first four points of the second half, but SMU quickly pushed the lead to 20 points and coasted the rest of the way. SMU’s big three scored the Cards first 24 points of the second half.
<strong>ST. THOMAS 71, CONCORDIA 63</strong>
The Tommies, behind tenacious defense and solid play from the tandem of Joe Scott and Tyler Nicolai, overtook the Cobbers and brought home a 71-63 win.
Nicolai and Scott made their 75th consecutive start together. St. Thomas is 67-8 in those games. Nicolai led the Tommies with 17 points, and added three assists and a pair of steals. Scott tallied 10 points, while Alex Healy posted 15 points for UST and dished out five assists. Noah Kaiser scored a career-high 10 points off the bench. Tommy Hannon led UST with six rebounds.
UST committed just 10 turnovers on the night and shot 55.8% from the floor. UST canned 65.2% of its second half shots. The hot shooting offset coldness from three-point range, where the Toms converted just 33.3%. The Tommies’ pressure defense forced 14 Cobber turnovers, which UST converted into 14 points. St. Thomas outscored Concordia 16-6 on fast breaks.
John Fraase, who posted another double-double as he scored 19 and grabbed 15 rebounds, led the Cobbers. He also had two assists and a steal. Karl Olson chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals. Erik Lien added 10 points off the bench.
Concordia shot 46.2% for the night and was 37.5% from three-point land. They held a 29-24 edge in rebounds.
The Cobbers scored the game’s first five points, but UST battled back and took the lead for good with 11:56 remaining in the first half on a triple by Kaiser. That sparked an 8-0 run. Concordia fought back and got within a point before UST closed the half with an 11-6 run to take a 35-29 lead.
Concordia cut the Tommie lead to three points with 9:34 to play in the second half but UST responded with a 9-2 run behind a pair of buckets by Scott and a long trey by Nicolai to seal the win.
BETHEL 82. SAINT MARY’S 79</strong>
The Royals built a big lead and then held off the hard-charging Cardinals down the stretch to hang on for an 82-79 win. It was Bethel’s third win in their past four games.
Bethel started the game hot, and shot 57.1% in the first half, pulling away to a double digit lead midway through the half. They increased their margin to as many as 17 before settling for a 48-33 halftime lead.
SMU made things interesting in the second half. Their offense heated up and Bethel’s turned chilly. After shooting 33.3% in the first half, SMU found the hole 40.6% of the time in the second half. They used a 9-2 run midway through the final stanza to pull within eight. They steadily chipped away the rest of the game, getting within one as Chris Palmer converted a traditional three-point play with 0:28 to go. However, Daniel Baah calmly drained a pair of free throws with 0:20 showing to seal the win.
The Cardinals out-rebounded Bethel 36-33 but committed 16 turnovers to the Royals’ 12.
Bethel’s Nate Robertson had a monster game, scoring 27 points, with 11 rebounds and two assists. He converted 10 of 14 from the floor. Chris Vavra added 13 points, three assists and a pair of steals, going six-for-six from the free throw line. Greg Meyer added 12 points and five rebounds, while Baah chipped in 10 points.
The Royals improve to 4-8 in MIAC play and are in a three-way tie for eighth. Overall, they are 8-9. Bethel plays at Macalester on Wednesday and travels to Concordia on Saturday.
Chris Palmer had a solid game for SMU, scoring 19, with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. He was 11-of-12 from the free throw line. Will Wright added 16 points and a pair of blocked shots, while Lukas Holland chipped in 10 points. Michael Burfeind added 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Saint Mary’s falls to 4-8 in MIAC play and 6-9 overall. On Wednesday, they host Gustavus before heading to Saint John’s on Saturday.
<strong>CARLETON 84, SAINT JOHN’S 68</strong>
The Knights, buoyed by the presence of dozens of alumni, celebrated 100-year of Carleton basketball in style with an 84-68 win over the Johnnies. Carleton led from start to finish, and held a double-digit lead most of the game.
Carleton scored the game’s first 10 points, and was up by 18, 31-13, with 7:02 showing on the clock. The lead grew to 20 on a pair of free throws by Seth Jonker late in the half. Midway through the second half, SJU cobbled together an 11-4 run to close the gap to 11 but Jeremy Sutherland canned four consecutive free throw to restore momentum to Carleton.
The Knights shot 60.9% in the first half and 54.5% in the second (57.8% overall). They were 6-for-12 from three-point land in the first half. Carleton held a 33-28 edge off the glass and committed only 10 turnovers while forcing 12.
Saint John’s shot 34.6% from the floor in the first half and was 5-for-10 m from three point range. They warmed up to 45.2% in the second half as they tried to come back,
All five starters reached double figures for Carleton. Jonker’s 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists paced the attack. Sutherland added 16 points and six rebounds; he canned 10 of 14 free throws. Blaise Davis added 15 points; Bryan Rosett also added 15 points, with four rebounds and four assists. Carter Biewen chipped in 11 points.
Carleton is now 5-7 in conference play and 9-8 overall. They have worked their way back into playoff contention. The Knights play twice at home in the week ahead, hosting Concordia (Wednesday) and Hamline (Saturday).
Aaron Burtzel led the way for SJU. He scored 21 points, with six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Andrew Latzke added 16 points and five rebounds, while Andy Burns chipped in 11 points and a pair of assists.
Saint John’s falls to 75 and a tie for fourth place in MIAC play. Overall, they are 10-7. The Johnnies are off until Saturday, when they return to action, hosting Saint Mary’s.
<strong>GUSTAVUS 79, CONCORDIA 72</strong>
The Gusties led from wire to wire, turning up the defensive pressure in the second half to take home a hard-fought 79-72 win over the Cobbers.
Gustavus shot well, draining 57.4% of its shots, including a sizzling 62.5% in the second half. They canned 7-of-12 three-pointers and held a 38-28 advantage in rebounds.
Concordia shot 50% from the field and from three-point range in the open half but could only convert 33.3% in the second half.
The Gusties methodically pulled away from the Cobbers in the first half. They used a 9-2 run to stretch their lead to 10 midway through the first half. Concordia surged back to within a bucket before GAC took a 40-35 lead into the break.
In the second half, the Gusties pushed their lead to as many as 12 but the pesky Cobbers refused to fold. However, Concordia was unable to get closer than seven points over the final 10 minutes of play.
Five players reached double figures for Gustavus, led by Jesse Van Sickle’s 21 points. He was 4-for-6 from three-point range. Ryan McPartland added 13 points, while Dan Schmidtknecht and Tyler Grey each tallied 11. Schmidtknecht added six assists and eight rebounds. Phil Wirtjes chipped in 10 points. Sam Paulson tallied nine points and eight rebounds.
Gustavus stands 10-2 and in second place in the MIAC. They are 12-5 overall. The Gusties play at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday and enjoy a bye on Saturday.
Darrin Olmscheid had a blockbuster day for the Cobbers. He scored 29 points, canning five three-pointers, and was perfect in eight attempts from the charity stripe. He also pulled down four rebounds to go with a steal and a block. Karl Olson added 18 points, with six assists. James Baldwin posted a double-double off the bench, scoring 11 to go with 13 rebounds.
Concordia is now 4-8 in MIAC play and 8-9 overall. The Cobbers play at Carleton on Wednesday before returning home to tangle with Bethel.
<strong>HAMLINE 84, MACALESTER 57</strong>
The Pipers were red-hot, shooting 61.6% from the field and 70.6% from three-point land, as they breezed past the Scots 84-57.
Hamline used a 10-0 run early in the game to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 14-6 lead. Ray Brown had one of his three dunks on the day in that run. A 12-2 run late in the first half upped the lead to 19. Early in the second half, a jumper by Noah Aguirre gave Hamline a 20 point lead; they never led the Scots closer than that the rest of the way.
The Pipers held a 33-23 edge off the glass, but committed 21 turnovers. Brown, who had three dunks in the first half, finished the day with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. Brandon Rieg led the attack with 17 points, including five treys on five attempts. Dan Andersen added 14 points, including four three-pointers. Carl Hipp grabbed eight rebounds to go with his five points and three blocked shots. Victor Easter doled out five assists to go with his seven points.
For Mac, Kyle Hamblett and Pierce Peters each scored 13 points. Peters had four steals. Jerry Kraus added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Holden Bigler-Johnson had five steals and four assists
With the win, Hamline moves into a tie for fourth place with a 7-5 MIAC record. They are 11-6 overall. Hamline makes the trip to Northfield twice in the week ahead, playing at St. Olaf on Wednesday and Carleton on Saturday.
The Scots have now lost 41 consecutive MIAC games. They are 0-12 in conference play and 2-15 overall. They host Bethel on Wednesday and play St. Thomas on Saturday.
<strong>ST. THOMAS 75, ST. OLAF 47
The Tommies combined stout defense with hot shooting to breeze past the Oles, 75-47. Anders Halverson came off the bench to post a career-high 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half.
St. Thomas shot 56.7% in the second half and 48.4% for the day. They held a 43-37 edge off the glass and committee only nine miscues. They limited the Oles to 19 points in the first half and 30.0% shooting for the day. UST’s defense forced 16 St. Olaf miscues.
UST raced off to a quick 17-4 lead; Tyler Nicolai tallied six points in that run. The lead grew to 23-7 by the midpoint of the first half. The Tommies increased the lead to 20 points early in the second half, and it peaked at 29. St., Olaf never drew closer than 20 over the final 15 minutes of play.
St. Olaf was led by Stu Neville, who scored 10 points and hauled in seven rebounds. Bobby Fong had eight rebounds to go with his five points. Mark Torell tallied nine points, three assists and two steals.
The Oles are now 6-5 in conference play, holding down the final playoff spot. Overall, they are 8-8. St. Olaf hosts Hamline on Wednesday and travels to Augsburg on Saturday.
Halverson added four rebounds, a pair of dunks, and a block to go with his 19 points. Nicolai tallied 16 points, four rebounds and two steals. Tommy Hannon added nine points and seven rebounds, Teddy Archer finished with eight points and four rebounds, and Alex Healy chipped in six points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. Peter Leslie posted seven points.
UST is now 11-1 and in sole possession of first place. The Tommies are 15-2 overall. St. Thomas hosts Augsburg on Wednesday before tangling with Macalester on Saturday.