NORTHFIELD, Minn. –Prior to each contest, Carleton College head men’s basketball coach Guy Kalland gives his team a key to winning that evening’s game. Since the last five meetings between the Knights and Bethel University had been decided by a grand total of only 12 total points, tonight’s key message read “Get off to a quick start.”
Apparently his squad listened.
Carleton (8-11, 6-8 MIAC) raced out to a 19-0 lead and never looked back in cruising to a 63-51 victory over the visiting Royals (12-8, 8-7 MIAC). The triumph puts Carleton back into the postseason hunt as the Knights now trail Bethel by just a game-and-a-half for the final playoff spot with six games remaining in the regular season.
Taylor Hanson (Sr./Saint Paul, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) posted his second straight double-double and point guard Peter Bakker-Arkema (Fy./Ann Arbor, Mich./Skyline) fell just a rebound shy of one himself. Hanson finished 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and three steals. All four figures represented game highs. Bakker-Arkema tallied 13 points, his third-highest total of the season, to go along with a career-best nine rebounds.
All five starters scored during the game-opening and deciding offensive outburst. Mitchell Biewen (Fy./Golden Valley, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong) drained a three pointer on the opening possession. Shane McSparron (Jr./Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) knocked down a pair of free throws and added a jumper. Beau Smit (Fy./White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Lake) and Hanson each converted a layup in transition, but it was Bakker-Arkema that got the Knights rolling early.
After converting an early aggressive drive to the basket, Bakker-Arkema added consecutive three pointers to make the score 19-0.
In the opening stretch Bethel committed three turnovers and missed its first seven shots. The visitors finally got on the scoreboard when Brycen Wojta hit a jumpshot with 12:22 remaining in the first half, but by that point the damage was done. The Royals faced a double-digit deficit the rest of the contest. Wotja finished with a team-best 15 points with a 5-of-19 shooting line.
This was the second straight game in which the Knights held an opponent to a season-worst shooting performance with Carleton’s defense limited Bethel to a .313 field-goal percentage.
Carleton meanwhile finished shooting 48 percent for the night. In addition to double-digit scoring lines from Hanson and Bakker-Arkema, McSparron added 12 points, while Biewen, Smit and Tianen Chen (Fy./Germantown Hills, Ill./Metamora Township) each contributed at least seven tallies.
The Knights hit the road for a game at Saint Mary’s University on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Live audio of that game will be available on KDHL 920 AM and Knights Online.