The Gustavus men’s basketball team used a 15-2 run midway through the first half to take a 16-point lead (27-11) and never looked back on its way to a convincing 78-61 win over Bethel on Wednesday night in Arden Hills. Sophomore post James Hill scored 19 points as the Gusties opened MIAC play with a win over the Royals. Gustavus is now 3-2 overall and 1-0 in league play.
Gustavus got off to a slow start in the game making only 4-0f-12 shots and committing seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the contest, but the Gusties still held a slim 12-9 lead at the 10 minute mark of the first half. Coach Mark Hanson’s squad would get hot over the next three minutes making 5-of-5 shots from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line to spark a 15-2 run and extend its lead to 16 points at 27-11 at the 6:54 mark. The Royals would trim the lead to 12 points at 31-19 at the 4:50 mark, however Gustavus would close out the half on an 11-2 run and went into the locker room with a convincing 42-21 lead at halftime. The Gusties were an impressive 11-of-16 from the field in the final 10 minutes of the first half. James Hill led the way with 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
Early in the second half, Gustavus led by 21 at 55-34, however the Royals used a 9-0 run over a four-minute stretch to cut the lead to 12 at 55-43. The Gusties quickly responded with a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 19 points at 62-43 at the 7:53 mark. The Royals could get no closer than 15 points the rest of the game. Bethel scored four points in the final 10 seconds to cut the lead to 17 as the Gusties claimed the 78-61 victory.
James Hill led all scorers with 19 points, while Phil Wirtjes pitched in with 16. Paul Blacklock turned in a solid all-around performance with six points, 10 rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and one steal.
Gustavus will return home to play Concordia on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 3 pm. You can watch the game live at Gustavus Game Central. Tom Wheeler will handle the play-by-play.