The Gustavus men’s basketball team outscored Bethany Lutheran College 17-8 over the final four minutes of the game, including 11-of-14 shooting from the free throw line in the final two minutes, to claim a hard-fought 88-76 non-conference win at home on Wednesday night. Trevor Wittwer turned a solid performance for Gustavus as he scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Gustavus posted its fourth straight win and improved to 5-2 on the season.
The Gusties got off to a quick start making three-of-four from the field and four-of-four from the free throw line on their way to a 11-4 lead in the first three minutes of play. The Vikings countered with a 5-0 run that cut the lead to 11-9 at the 15:15 mark. Gustavus immediately countered with an 13 to 4 run pushing its lead to 11 points at 24-13 midway through the first half. The Gusties would maintain their double-digit lead through the next six minutes, however the Vikings would outscore Gustavus 13-3 over the final four minutes of the half and the game was tied 41-41 at the intermission. Tommy Saffert led Bethany with 17 first half points, while Kane Sivesind led the Gusties with 14. Gustavus shot a sizzling 60.0 percent from the field (15-25) and 71.4 percent from three-point range (5-7), however the Vikings also shot well making 51.9 percent of their shots (14-27) from the field.
The second half was very close as the lead changed hands six times with three ties in the first ten minutes of play. The biggest lead was three points by either team. With the score tied at 58-58 with 9:44 left to play, Gustavus used a 5-0 mini-run to take a 63-58 lead and the Gusties would not trail the rest of the contest. The Vikings stayed close and a layup by Stephone Frederick lead to three at 69-66 with 4:56 on the clock. Gustavus used another 5-0 run to build its lead to eight at 76-68 at the 2:36 mark and Bethany would get no closer than five points in the final two minutes of play. The Gusties put the game away at the free throw line making 11-of-14 from the charity stripe as the Vikings had to foul to try and stay in the game.
Trevor Wittwer scored 17 second half points for Gustavus on 5-of-6 shooting from the field (1-of-1 from three-point range) and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Mike DesLauriers also had a big second half scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. Andy Wills added 14 points in the second half and finished as the leading scorer in the game with 26. Tommy Saffert was held to five points in the final 20 minutes, but still finished with 22 points on the night.
Gustavus held a significant advantage in two statistical categories in the contest, one was on the boards where the Gusties held a 41-22 advantage and the other was at the free throw line where Gustavus converted 26-of-35 attempts, while the Vikings made 12-of-19 attempts.
The Gusties (5-2, 3-1) will now break for finals. Their next game will be December 30 against Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bethany Lutheran (2-6, 1-0) will return home to face UW-River Falls on Saturday.