St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team committed a season-high 18 turnovers in a 68-60 loss to Bethel University on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. The 18 giveaways led to 34 Bethel points, which proved to be the difference in the eight-point loss. Bethel’s Brycen Wojta led all scorers with 26 points on 9 of 12 shooting with two three-pointers and a perfect 6 for 6 mark from the free throw line. Jordan Dick (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) led the Gusties with 16 points on 6 for 10 shooting, including a 4 for 8 mark from three-point range. Gustavus drops to 8-4 overall and 5-2 in the MIAC, while Bethel improves to 8-3 overall and 4-2 in league play.
“You can’t have 18 turnovers in what was essentially a one or two possession game,” admitted Head Coach Mark Hanson. “We put ourselves a good position, but continued to turn it over. Some of them were bad choices, some of them were poor execution, but there were still too many regardless.”
For the third consecutive game, Gustavus dug itself a hole in the early going. On Wednesday, the Gusties faced a 19-4 deficit with 11:50 remaining in the first half. Gustavus committed four turnovers in the drought, each of which led to baskets for the Royals.
Bethel would lead by as many 16 points (36-20) with 2:09 remaining in the opening half on the way to a 13-point lead (38-25) headed to the break. Gustavus committed eight turnovers in the opening frame, compared to just two for the Royals.
After yet another lackluster first half, the Gusties responded with a 16-5 run to open the second half and pull within two points (43-41) just 5:31 after the break. Gustavus connected on four three-pointers in the run, two each from Jordan Dick and Chris Narum (So., Eagan, Minn.).
The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half. Although the Gusties would cut the Bethel lead to one point (48-47), they would never lead as they committed four more turnovers over the final three and a half minutes. The Royals 7 for 9 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to seal the eight-point win.
For the game, Gustavus shot an even 50 percent (23-46) from the field, 42.9 percent (9-21) from three-point range, and just 55.9 percent (5-9) from the free throw line. Bethel shot 49.1 percent (26-53) from the floor, 45.5 percent (5-11) from three, and 78.6 percent (11-14) from the charity stripe. Although the Gusties outrebounded the Royals 29-23, Bethel held the advantage in turnovers (18-8) and points off turnovers with a remarkable count of 34-3.
Wojta led the way for Bethel with 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists. The only other Royal to finish in double-figure scoring was Jackson Canfield with 12 points off the bench. Canfield made 4 of 12 field goal attempts including a pair of triples.
“Bethel has some good players,” said Hanson. “We allowed them to play well to a point, but they have some good players, there’s not question.”
Along with his team-high 16 points, Jordan Dick also pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists. He was joined in double-figure scoring by Peter Kruize (Fr., St. Peter, Minn.) and Brody Ziegler (So., Mankato, Minn.) with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Kruize went 5 of 7 from the floor, while Ziegler connected on 4 of 9 field goal attempts. Ziegler also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Gustavus will next host Carleton College on Saturday, Jan. 11th at 3:00 p.m., following the women’s game at 1:00 p.m.
“Carleton is going to be a different team in that they aren’t going to drive as much as Bethel did tonight,” finished Hanson. “But we have to defend better, finish possessions, and finish our offensive possessions with shots rather than turnovers.”