NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Senior Tom Sawatzke (Monticello, Minn./Monticello) paced the Knights with 22 points as the Carleton College men’s basketball team closed the first half on an 18-3 scoring run and held off visiting Elmhurst College for a 68-56 win in both teams' season opener.
The first few minutes were a back-and-forth affair as Carleton (1-0) traded the lead with Elmhurst (0-1). Scott Theisen’s (Sr./Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park) jumper four minutes into the contest sparked the Knights on a 13-5 run putting the hosts in front 17-10. The visitors responded going 6-for-8 from the field during a 15-1 burst spanning five-and-a-half minutes during the middle of the period.
With 6:59 to play Shane McSparron’s (So./Apple Valley, Minn./ Eastview) bucket ignited an 18-6 run by the Knights, during which they were 7-for-10 from the field and sank a pair of shots from downtown allowing the home team to carry a 36-31 edge into the break.
A Sawatzke steal led to a fast break layup by McSparron to give Carleton a 47-37 advantage with 14:29 remaining. Elmhurst had the workings of a second-half rally going, as they trimmed the deficit to four with 8:39 to play, however Sawatzke took over, scoring 11 of his game-high 22 points for the Knights over the final seven-and-a-half minutes to fend off the Bluejays and lift Carleton to a 68-56 victory.
Sawatzke who led Carleton’s squad in scoring last year, added six assists and three rebounds to his tally. McSparron contributed 15 points and also grabbed four boards with two blocks, two rebounds, and a steal. Theisen was productive up and down the court for the Knights, scoring 13 points and adding on six rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocks. Taylor Hansen (Jr./St. Paul, Minn./Minnehaha Acad.) scored 10 points and tallied a team-high seven boards in his return from a knee injury sustained last January.
D’ante Foster led the Bluejays in scoring, scoring 12 points. Nick Sanford contributed nine points and 10 boards.
Carleton next goes on a long but eagerly awaited road trip to Honolulu, Hawaii for an inter-divisional game against Division II opponent Hawaii Pacific University on Saturday, Nov. 24. The Knights will also play a match against Division II Northern State University on Nov. 28 before returning home for their MIAC opener against Bethel University on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.