The Gustavus men’s basketball team saw it’s season come to an end on Saturday night with a 78-71 overtime loss to Carleton in the MIAC Playoff Championship game in front of a some 2,800 fans in Lund Center Forum on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. Carleton proved to be too strong in the overtime session, scoring the first six points and shooting 5-for-6 from the field. Phil Wirtjes lead the Gusties in scoring with a career/game-high of 22 points (9-14). Jeremy Sutherland led the Knights with a game-high 22 points (9-15).
It is the first MIAC Playoff Championship won by Carleton in history, as the Knights were 0-2 in their previous two championship game appearances. Gustavus finishes the season with a 16-11 overall record. Carleton improves to 19-9 overall and receives an automatic berth into NCAA Tournament. Carleton has now won 12 of it’s last 13 games.
The first half was an up-and-down affair, as there were 10 lead changes within the frame. Gustavus made an 8-0 run at the 10:12 mark to take a 21-15 lead. Carleton battled back as Bryan Rosett tied the game at 30-30 on a layup with 1:14 on clock. Rosett finished the half with ten points while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. Ryan McPartland put Gustavus up two with under one minute remaining, yet Seth Jonker tied the game at 32-32 on a pair of free throws with :24 seconds left.
The Gustavus bench out-scored Carleton’s bench 11-0 in the first half. The Gusties shot 46.7% (14-30) in the half, as Carleton shot 52% (13-25). Carleton’s Sutherland and Jonker each scored 10 points, while Wirtjes led the Gusties with seven points.
Gustavus would trail by as many as eight points in the second half, when Sutherland put the Knights on top 48-40 with a 13:36 left to play. The Gusties came storming back, as a layup by Paul Blacklock at the 12:58 mark ignited an 11-0 Gustavus scoring run that gave the Gustavus a 51-48 lead with just under ten minutes remaining. Blaise Davis tied the game at 51-51 with a three pointer on the ensuing possession. The Gusties held a 61-60 advantage before Rosett hit a three pointer coming off a Carleton timeout, putting the Knights on top 63-61 with 1:54 left on the clock. Rosett led the Knights in scoring with nine second half points.
Paul Blacklock knotted the game at 63-63 on a layup with :54 seconds left, and Carleton had a chance to take lead on the following possession, but Jonker went up to strong on a layup, missing the shot and giving Gustavus the ball with :25 seconds left. Seth Anderson was unable to get a good look at a game-winning shot and the contest went into overtime tied at 63-63.
Gustavus shot 48.4% (15-31) from the field and 33.3% (1-3) from three-point range in the second half. The Gusties got to the free throw line just once (0-1) after the first two halves of basketball. Carleton shot 45.8% (11-24) from the floor and 50% (5-10) from three-point range in the second half.
Jeremy Sutherland scored seven of Carleton’s first nine points of the overtime period, giving Carleton a 72-65 lead with 2:22 remaining. Gustavus came out flat in overtime, going 0-for-4 from the floor in the two minutes. Carleton went 5-for-6 from the field, as Gustavus was 3-for-11.
Gustavus finished with a 44.4% (32-72) field goal percentage, while shooting 46.2% from beyond the arc. Carleton shot 52.7% (29-55) from the field and 45% (9-20) from three-point range. Augsburg was 11-for-15 from the charity stripe, while Gustavus was just 1-for-3. Gustavus won the turnover battle 8-4 and edged the Knights 39-32 in rebounds.
Van Sickle and Anderson joined Wirtjes in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Rosett scored 19 points, Jonker scored 18, and Blaise Davis scored 10 to join Sutherland in double-figure scoring.