The Gustavus men’s basketball team suffered it’s first MIAC setback Saturday afternoon in Arden Hills, Minn. with a 54-52 loss to Bethel. The Gusties made a 15-2 scoring run with under five minutes to play to take a 52-49 lead with 1:30 remaining. Bethel responded with five unanswered points, as Chris Vavra made 3-4 free throws down the stretch, giving Bethel the two point victory. Gustavus drops to 10-4 overall and 8-1 in the MIAC, while Bethel improves to 6-8 overall and 2-7 in the MIAC.
Neither team could gain a significant advantage for a majority of the first half as Bethel outshot Gustavus 50% (13-26) to 37.9% (11-29). Ryan McPartland (3-6) and Bethel’s Nate Robertson (3-5) each scored nine points. Bethel closed the half with a 7-0 scoring run, taking a 34-27 lead at the break.
Bethel took a 10-point lead at the 16:21, 15:18, and 4:26 marks of the second half. Phil Wirtjes had eight second half points while shooting 2-2 from the field, three-point range, and free throw line. Six of Wirtjes’s eight points came in Gustavus’s late second half run. The Gusties shot 30.8% (8-26) in the half as Bethel shot 26.9% (7-26).
Bethel finished with a 38.5% (20-52) field goal percentage while going 0-8 from three point range. Gustavus shot 34.5% (19-55) while shooting a cold 20% (3-15) from behind the arch. McPartland led all scorers with 15 points and nine rebounds. Chris Vavra and Nate Robertson led the Royals with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Phil Wirtjes also scored in double digits with 10 points (3-6).
Gustavus will travel to Collegeville, Minn. on Monday night to take on Saint John’s at 7:30 p.m.