The Gustavus Adolphus men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinal round of the MIAC Playoffs with a 70-59 win over Carleton Monday night in St. Peter. The Gusties used a 27-9 run midway through the second half to erase a five-point deficit and take control of the game. With the win, Gustavus brought a string of five straight losses to the Knights to an end.
After neither was able to break away during the opening ten minutes of play, Gustavus opened up a 22-15 lead at the 6:06 mark of the first half on back-to-back three pointers by Kane Sivesind (Jr., Madison, Wis./Memorial) and Jesse Van Sickle (Fr., Garden City, Minn./Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial). Jake Phillips knocked down a trey to cut the deficit to four points and Zach Johnson halved that with a layup, but Phil Sowden (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn./Park Center) knocked down a trey of his own, followed by a layup by Van Sickle with 1:09 on the clock to extend the lead back to seven points at 29-22. Layps by Bryan Rosett and Johnson in the final minute of the half left the Gusties with a three-point lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms at halftime.
Carleton opened the second half on a 7-2 run to take a 33-29 lead with 15:52 to play and then extended the lead to five points on a trey by Jay Melson at the 14:12 mark. Trevor Wittwer (Jr., Redwood Falls, Minn./Redwood Valley) cut the lead to 38-35 with a dunk, but Phillips responded with a layup to gave the Knights a 40-35 lead with 13:44 remaining.
Over the next ten minutes, the Gusties outscored the Knights 27-9. Mike DesLauriers (So., Benilde-St. Margaret) scored seven of his nine second-half points to conclude the run. DesLauriers and Andrew Olson (Sr., Owatonna, Minn.) also knocked down back-to-back three-pointers during the stretch to ignite the home crowd. Carleton scored consecutive baskets to knock the lead back to single-digits at 62-53, but a layup and a pair of free throws by Sowden put Gustavus back ahead by 13 with inside a minute to play.
The Knights mounted one last rally as Rosett knocked down a three from the baseline and Phillips knocked down a layup to cut the lead to 66-58, but two free throws each by Sivesind and DesLauriers sealed the result.
Gustavus outshot Carleton 68.4% (13-19) to 44.8% (13-29) in the second half and held a 58.5% (24-41) to 48.0% (24-50) advantage in field-goal percentage for the entire game. The Gusties also emerged from the game with a 28-19 edge on the boards and shot 83.3% (15-18) from the charity stripe. Zach Johnson was the only Knight to step to the free-throw line on the evening, making three of seven attempts.
Jake Phillips led all players with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-6 from long distance. Zach Johnson added 18 on 7-of-17 shooting from the field, while Bryan Rosett finished with nine points. Melson added three points, and Mike Kootsikas, Tommy Drake, and Jeremy Sutherland each had a pair for the Knights, who finish the season at 11-15 overall.
Phil Sowden led the Gusties with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field. Sowden also connected on a trey and hit all four of his free throw attempts while bringing down three rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists. Andrew Doble (Jr., Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney) added 11 points off the bench, while Trevor Wittwer made a number of marks in the scorebook, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds (game-high), three assists (game-high), two blocks, and an assist in 24 minutes of play. Mike DesLauriers and Jesse Van Sickle each finished with nine points, while Kane Sivesind added eight. Tyler Kramer (Sr., Hayfield, Minn.) and Andrew Olson each nailed a trey to finish with three points apiece, and Jay Stein (Sr., Arlington, Minn./Sibley East) rounded out the Gustavus scoring with two points.
With three rebounds, Sowden moved into a tie with Scott Lauinger (1992-96) for tenth place on Gustavus’ all-time rebounds list with 552. Sowden also moved past Jon Gutierrez (240 assists; 1978-82) into eighth place on the career assists chart with 241. Aaron Grove dished out 243 assists from 1996-98 and is currently seventh on the list. Sowden also ranks 14th in career points with 1,252.
Wittwer closed to within one steal of Doug Espenson (2001-05) for ninth on the career steals list. Wittwer has 93 career steals, while Espenson ended his career with 94.
Gustavus’ win, coupled with sixth-seeded St. Olaf’s 81-79 overtime upset win over third-seeded Bethel, means that the Gusties (14-13) will face second-seed Saint John’s in a semifinal matchup at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Collegeville. The Oles will travel to top-seeded St. Thomas for the other semifinal game. Winners of Wednesday’s games will meet at the gym of the highest remaining seed for the MIAC Playoff title Saturday evening.