Gustavus Adolphus junior wing Trevor Wittwer (Redwood Falls, Minn.) sank a pair of free throws with :07 remaining to give the Gusties a 78-77 win over Bethel Monday night in Arden Hills. Wittwer finished with team-highs in points (21) and rebounds (8) as Gustavus improved to 4-2 overall, 3-0 in the MIAC. The Royals fell for the first time this season to drop to 5-1 overall, 1-1 in the league.
The Royals jumped out to an early 16-10 lead during the game’s early minutes as seven of Gustavus’ first 11 field goal attempts missed the mark. Bethel’s shooting went cold, though, allowing the Gusties to go on an 18-2 run over a six-minute span in the middle of the half. The Gustavus rally, spurred on by eight points from Tyler Kramer (Sr., Hayfield, Minn.), turned a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead at 26-18 with 6:55 to play. The Royals made only one of eight shots during the stretch with the lone exception being a jumper by Charles Meadowcroft. Bethel battled back to tie the game at 32-32 with 3:01 to play on a jumper and a free throw by Cory Laugen and retook the lead on a three-pointer by Tim Madson. The teams traded baskets for free throws down the stretch and the Royals took a 39-36 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The early portion of the second half proved to be a back-and-forth struggle as neither team was able to mount any significant runs. Back-to-back three-pointers by Jesse Van Sickle (Fr., Garden City, Minn.) gave the Gusties a four-point advantage (54-50) with 12:07 to play, but the Royals responded to tie the score at 56-56. A three-pointer by Kramer with 10:02 to play gave Gustavus a lead which they would not relinquish until the closing minutes of the half.
Van Sickle drained another three-pointer with 4:45 to play to give the Gusties their largest lead of the second half at 72-66, but Bethel’s Chris Vavra answered right back with a three on the Royals’ next trip down the court to cut the advantage back to one possession. Van Sickle’s three proved to be the Gusties’ final field goal of the game.
A pair of Wittwer free throws put the Gusties back up by five with 1:57 to play, but the Royals cut into the lead as Laugen made good on a traditional three-point play with :42 left on the clock and retook the lead at 77-76 on a three-pointer by Meadowcroft with only :18 remaining. On the ensuing Gustie possession, Wittwer was fouled by Bethel’s Steve Strom. Wittwer stepped to the free throw line and converted both attempts to put Gustavus ahead by a single point. A last-second jumper by Laugen fell by the wayside as time expired to preserve the Gustie victory.
Bethel made more field goals (31) than Gustavus (24), but the Gusties finished the game with a 20-8 advantage at the free-throw line and a 10-7 advantage behind the three-point line. Gustavus finished 20-of-22 from the charity stripe.
Wittwer’s 21 points came on 5-for-10 shooting, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. He also added four assists, two steals, and a block to his eight rebounds in 33 minutes of play. Kramer added 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and was perfect on all three of his three-point attempts. Kane Sivesind (Jr., Madison, Wis.) finished with 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 19 minutes off the bench.
Meadowcroft led five Royals in double-figures with 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line, while ripping down a team-high seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. Mike Moberg added 18 points and seven rebounds but also contributed four of Bethel’s six blocks during the contest. Cory Laugen (12), Tim Madson (11), and Chris Vavra (10) were the other Royals in double-figures.
The Gusties host Saint John’s Wednesday evening in St. Peter in their final MIAC game of 2006.