The Gustavus men’s basketball defeated Bethel 65-49 at Gus Young Court on Wednesday night and clinched the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title outright with the victory. Trailing 43-42 with 13:53 left in the game, Gustavus put together a 21-0 run (holding Bethel scoreless for nearly ten minutes) to take a 63-43 lead at the 4:42 mark. The Royals would get no closer than 14 points the rest of the contest. The Gusties improve to 19-5 overall and 17-2 in the MIAC, while Bethel falls to 17-7 overall and 12-7 in the MIAC.
Gustavus got off to a quick start in the first half and led 18-10 at the 12:30 mark. The Royals quickly countered with a 10-2 run to tie the score at 20-20 with 10:37 remaining before the intermission. Leading 24-22, the Gusties used a 10-2 run of their own to take a 34-24 lead at the 4:28 mark. The two played evenly the rest of the way and Gustavus took an eight-point (36-28) lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
Bethel scored the first four points of the second half and slowly whittled the Gustavus lead to two at 42-40 with 14:24 remaining. A three-point basket by Tyson Bjorklund gave the Royals their only lead of the game at 43-42 at the 13:53 mark. The Gusties turned the ball over on their next two possessions, but the Royals could not extend their lead. A three-point basket by Adam TeBrake would give the Gusties the lead back for good at 45-43. The ensuing 18-0 run would be sparked by a rejuvenated Gustavus defense that forced five turnovers which led to several easy baskets. The Royals could only manage 21 points in the second half and 15 of those were in the first seven minutes of play. Bethel scored only six points in the final 14 minutes of the game.
Tim Brown was red-hot from the field for Gustavus as he connected on 9-of-9 from the field including four-of-four from behind the arc for 22 points. Ironically, his only miss of the night came at the free throw line where he was 0-for-1. Brown’s 22 points pushed his collegiate total to 999 points. He will likely score his 1,000 career point at Carleton on Saturday afternoon. Other Gustavus players in double figures included Adam TeBrake with 14 and Phil Sowden with 10.
Gustavus shot 60.5 percent from the field (26-43) and 60.0 percent from three-point range (9-15). Bethel shot 43.8 percent from the field (21-48) and 28.6 percent from behind the arc (4-of-14). Gustavus also outrebounded the Royals 27-21.
The Gusties finished the MIAC regular season with a record of 10-0 at Gus Young Court. Coach Mark Hanson’s squad has now posted a mark of 27-3 at home in regular season MIAC play over the past three years.
The regular season MIAC title is the first for Gustavus since the 1996-97 season. The Gusties finished second five of the past six seasons and went on to win the MIAC Playoff title three times including last year. This is the 15th MIAC regular season title in the program’s history.