ST. PAUL, Minn. – Shane McSparron (Fy./Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) tallied a career-best 19 points and Scott Theisen (Jr./Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park) contributed his third career double-dougle, yet the three-game winning streak for the Carleton College men’s basketball team was snapped with a 68-62 loss at Hamline University.
Tonight’s setback doused the remaining hopes of the Knights securing a playoff berth. Carleton now sits three games out of the sixth and final spot in the conference tournament. Even if the Knights win their three remaining games and get a ton of help over the final week-plus of the season just to pull into a tie for fifth or sixth, the tie-breakers still do not favor Carleton. Guy Kalland had guided the program to 10 consecutive playoff appearances.
The Knights were done in on this evening by a season-worst 21 turnovers leading to 26 points for the Pipers. Carleton (9-13, 6-11 MIAC) shot 49 percent from the game but was just 1-of-12 (8.3 percent) from long range. Hamline (11-11, 9-8 MIAC) converted 44 percent of its shots overall and made 6-of-15 from beyond the arc.
Both teams started slow and the score remained tied 7-7 more than seven minutes into the game. Following a steal, McSparron converted a layup at the 12:43 mark and sparking the Knights on a 15-4 run spanning five minutes.
Hamline responded with a 12-2 burst to close within 24-23 with 5:30 still to play in the first half.
The score remained close over the balance of the period with Hamline carrying a 35-34 lead to the locker room following a three-pointer in the closing seconds. McSparron, Caleb Rosenow (Sr./Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing), and Michael Grinnell (Sr./Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) combined for 29 of Carleton’s first-half points.
Hamline maintained its lead over the entire second half. The advantage grew as large as six on multiple occasions, and each time Carleton closed the gap.
Theisen, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds made a layup with 2:53 remaining to bring the Knights within 62-60. The visitors made a pair of defensive stops but were unable to score at the other end.
Mike Campbell, the Pipers leading scorer, then came up with a pair of clutch plays down the stretch as he scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half. After his layup was blocked by Rosenow, Campbell retrieved the ball and converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a five point game, 65-60 with 1:15 left.
McSparron quickly scored a pretty backdoor layup off a bounce pass from Danny Geiger (So./New Prague, Minn./New Prague), once again making it a one-possession game. Following a scramble for a loose ball, Campbell knocked down a 15-foot jumper from the right wing with 31 seconds remaining, virtually sealing the victory.
Carleton’s next game in Monday, Feb. 14 at the University of St. Thomas. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on KDHL 920 AM and Knights Online.