The Gustavus men’s basketball team made 12-of-12 free throws in the final four minutes of the game to stop a late Bethel rally and claim a 79-74 win in Arden Hills, Minn. The Gusties were led by Phil Sowden with 20 points and six rebounds.
The Royals got off to a quick start in the game and led 14-8 with 14:51 left to play in the first half. That would turn out to be the largest lead of the game for Bethel. The Gusties outscored the Royals 10-3 over the next five minutes and took an 18-17 lead on a three-point basket by Andrew Olson with 9:42 left in the half. The score remained close for the rest of the half. Two Andrew Olson free throws with :07 left gave the Gusties a 36-34 lead at the intermission.
Gustavus got off to a quick start in the second half and outscored the Royals 11-4, which gave the Gusties a nine-point lead (47-39) at the 16:22 mark. Bethel countered with an 10-0 run over the next three minutes and took a one-point lead at 48-47 when Isaac Hinrichs made a basket with 13:33 left to play. Another Hinrichs field goal at 11:28 gave the Royals a 52-50 lead, but Gustavus tied the score at 52-52 on a jumper by Phil Sowden with 11:16 left and the Gusties would not trail the remainder of the game.
Free throw shooting would be the key for the Gusties down the stretch as they made 16-of-17 from the charity stripe in the final 10 minutes of the game. A jumper by Travis Jones pulled Bethel to within one point at 73-72 with :43 left to play, however Jared Hokanson made two free throws with :37 left to give the Gusties a 75-72 lead. The Royals would miss two three-point attempts in their next two possessions, while Gustavus countered with two free throws by Doug Espenson and Adam TeBrake to make the score 79-72 with :12 left in the game. Tim Gilbert made a two-point basket with :08 left to make the final score 79-74.
Gustavus shot 51.0 percent from the field (25-49) and 81.5 percent from the free throw line (22-27) in the game, while Bethel shot 48.1 percent from the field (26-54) and 87.5 percent from the free throw line (14-16).
Gustavus was led in scoring by Phil Sowden who tallied 20 points. Others in double figures included Doug Espenson with 19 and Adam TeBrake with 18.
Bethel was led in scoring by Tim Gilbert with 25, followed by Travis Jones with 20 and Isaac Hinrichs with 14.
The Gusties improve to 6-5 overall and 4-2 in the MIAC, while Bethel falls to 9-2 overall and 4-2 in the MIAC.