The Gustavus men’s basketball team pulled to within three points with six minutes left in the game, but were unable to hit key baskets down the stretch as the Gusties fell 87-72 to Bethel on Wednesday night in Arden Hills. After a three-point play by Sam Paulson made the score 66-63, the Royals scored eight unanswered points over the next two minutes en route to the win. Gustavus was led by Jesse Van Sickle’s career-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, while Ryan McPartland added 14 points.
Both teams played to an early 7-7 tie before Bethel used a 17-4 run over a seven-minute stretch to build its biggest lead of the opening half at 24-11. The Gusties cut the lead to seven points after a pair of Jesse Van Sickle three-point baskets as halftime approached, but went into the locker room trailing 44-34. Both teams were efficient offensively as Gustavus shot 53.8 percent and the Royals shot 54.3 percent, but Bethel capitalized on seven Gustie turnovers to grab the lead.
Midway through the second half, Jesse Van Sickle capped off a 13-3 Gustavus run with eight points to cut the Royal lead to 58-56 with 10:22 left on the clock. The Gusties kept the game a two-possession contest before Bethel went on its decisive 8-0 stretch to go ahead 74-63. The Royals hit their free throws, while Gustavus were unable to make key shots as Bethel recorded the win.
Two Gusties reached double-digits as Jesse Van Sickle recorded 26 points, 17 of which came in the second half, and Ryan McPartland added 14 points. Gustavus shot nearly 53 percent for the game and 85 percent from the charity stripe, but could not overcome 15 turnovers. Four Bethel players scored over ten points including Tim Madson with 28, Cory Laugen with 21, Mike Moberg with 16, and Nathan Robertson with 11.
The Gusties moved into a tie for fifth place in the MIAC standings at 11-8 and dropped to 12-12 overall. Bethel took over sole possession of second place in the league at 13-6 and improved to 18-6 overall. Gustavus will wrap up the regular season on Saturday against Saint John’s in Collegeville at 3 p.m.