The Gustavus men’s basketball team executed a nearly flawless half-court offense to slow down the high-octane Bethel Royals in a 65-50 win on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. The Gusties shot 55.1 percent from the floor on 27-for-49 shooting, while holding Bethel to its lowest point total of the season. Jesse Van Sickle and Sam Paulson led the way for Head Coach Mark Hanson’s squad with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Gustavus, which is in second place in the MIAC at 6-1, moved to 7-5 overall, while the Royals fell to 5-3 in league play and 10-3 overall.
Cory Laugen made two consecutive jump shots to give Bethel its largest and last lead of the game at 11-7 with 13:48 on the clock. The Gusties scored the next six points on layups from Sam Paulson, Bobby Johnson, and Tim Olmstead to take a 13-11 lead.
Both squads traded baskets until Gustavus separated themselves from the Royals with baseline shots by Dan Schmidtknecht and Robert Schmidt for an eight-point, 36-28 lead. However, on the last possession of the half, Bethel’s Tim Madson converted a three-play to cut the lead to 36-31 just before halftime. Offensively, the Gusties shot a blazing 61.5 percent from the floor on 16-for-26 shooting in the half. The Royals were equally impressive at 59.1 percent on 13-for-22 from the field. Three players dominated the scoring as Sam Paulson led Gustavus with 11 points and Bethel was paced by 13 from Tim Madson and 11 from Cory Laugen.
The Gusties made defensive adjustments at halftime that forced the Royals to miss their first seven shots of the game, while Gustavus built a double-digit lead to make it 42-31 with 14:36 remaining in the contest. With the lead, the Gusties managed the clock on each possession, effectively waiting for the shot clock to reach single-digits before taking a shot. Jesse Van Sickle put the game out of reach with two minutes left after he hit a three-pointer from the right wing to put Gustavus ahead 61-46 en route to the victory.
The lone Gusties to reach double-digits were Jesse Van Sickle with 15 and Sam Paulson with 13. Gustavus held Tim Madson and Cory Laugen to two points each in the second half as the tandem compiled 15 and 13 points, respectively. The Gusties converted 90.0 percent of their free throw attempts (9-for-10) compared to the Royals, who struggled from the charity stripe, making 4-for-9 at 44.4 percent. Gustavus also held a 30-22 advantage in rebounds with Bobby Johnson coming off the bench to grab a game-best 10 boards.
The Gusties will play second-ranked St. Thomas on Saturday at Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul at 3:00 p.m.