The Gustavus men’s basketball turned up the defensive pressure in the second half limiting Bethel to only 17 points in the final 20 minutes and pulling away for an impressive 69-55 conference win at Gus Young Court in St. Peter. Balanced scoring was again a key for the Gusties as four players reached double figures including Jesse Van Sickle with 15, Trevor Wittwer with 11, and Sam Paulson and Ryan McPartland with 10 each.
Gustavus jumped out to an early 13-6 lead making four of its first seven shots. Bethel battled back to cut the lead to two at 20-18 at the midway point of the first half, but then the Gusties used an 11-2 spurt to extend their lead to 11 at 31-20 with 6:12 left before the intermission. Bethel charged back once again and cut the lead to two at 36-34 at the 2:14 mark. The Royals used two Tim Madson free throws with :06 left to make the score 42-38 at the intermission.
The Gusties hit the floor running at the beginning of the second half outscoring Bethel 12-0 in the first four minutes to extend their lead to 14 points at 54-40 with 16:10 left in the game. The stingy Gustavus defense put the clamps on the Bethel offensive attack limiting the high powered Royals to just five points in the first ten minutes of the second half. The Gusties maintained their double-digit lead the remainder of the half on their way to an important 69-55 victory. Bethel, which came into the game averaging 87.2 points per game, were held 32 points below their season average. Gustavus put the clamps on the Royals in the second half limiting them to only 17 points including 6-of-25 shooting from the field (24.0%).
The Gustavus bench was once again a big factor, as Andrew Doble (10 points), Dan Schmidtknecht (9 points), and Ryan McPartland (6 points, 10 rebounds) combined to score 25 points. The Gusties shot 49.1 percent from the field (26-of-53), while the Royals shot a chilly 35.1% percent (20-of-57).
Gustavus, which is now 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC, will travel to Collegeville to face the Johnnies on Wednesday at 7:30 pm, while Bethel will travel to Northfield to face undefeated Carleton.