The Gustavus men’s basketball team led by as many as 18 points midway through the second half and then held off a late Carleton rally to claim a 59-51 victory at Gus Young Court in Saint Peter. Doug Espenson led the Gusties with 16 points. Gustavus improves to 11-4 overall and 9-1 in the MIAC, while Carleton falls to 10-5 overall and 7-3 in the MIAC.
Carleton post Tanner Schieck scored a layup on the opening possession of the game, however that would be the only time that the Knights would lead in the contest. The Gusties would score the next nine points to take a seven point lead at 9-2. The Knights would cut the lead to five at 13-8, but Gustavus countered with a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 10 (18-8) and Carleton would get no closer than seven points the rest of the game. The Gusties held double digit leads six different times in the last five minutes of the half. An Eric Nelson three-point basket at the buzzer extended the lead to 14 points at 33-19 at the intermission.
The Gusties continued their strong play and hot-shooting early in the second half and extended their lead to 18 points at 47-29 with 12:32 left in the game. Coach Mark Hanson’s squad maintained a 15-18 point lead through much of the half, however Carleton used a 5-0 run with 5:00 left to cut the lead to 12 at 53-41. A Dan Forkrud three-point basket with 1:50 left cut the lead to eight (57-49), but that was as close as the Knights would get.
Gustavus shot very well connecting on 22-of-44 shots from the field (50.0%) including eight-of-18 from three-point range (44.4%). The Gusties were also effective from the charity stripe as they made seven-of-eight (87.5%) Doug Espenson gave Gustavus a lift on the offensive end with 16 points including six-of-nine shooting from the field. Eric Nelson, who was a red-hot four-of-five from three-point range, contributed 12 points, while Tim Brown added 10 points. Carleton was led by Kyle Beste with 18 points.
The Gusties wrapped up the first half of MIAC play with a 9-1 mark which puts them atop the league standings by one game over Macalester at 8-2. The Gusties lone loss was to Macalester by the score of 66-54 in St. Paul. The Scots two losses were to Augsburg and Saint Mary’s.
Gustavus begins the second half of league play at Augsburg on Wednesday and then travels to Concordia on Saturday. The Cobbers have been red-hot lately having won five straight and seven of their last nine games.