MINNEAPOLIS – Putting up 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, including a big three-pointer with just over a minute remaining in the game, Carleton College point guard Tom Sawatzke (Sr./Monitcello, Minn/Monticello) helped coach Guy Kalland to his 399th career win as the Knights held off Augsburg College by a final score of 75-71.
Kalland ranks third among current MIAC coaches in career victories behind Saint John’s Jim Smith (746-528 in 49 seasons) and Gustavus’ Mark Hanson (428-191 in 23 seasons).
“This was a nice win over a quality opponent,” said Kalland. “We were a very determined squad and got off to a good start. We were efficient on the offensive end of the floor throughout the contest.”
Carleton (7-5, 4-3 MIAC), whose balanced offensive attack featured double-digit performances from four players, received a 12-point contribution from junior Taylor Hanson (St. Paul, Minn./Minnehaha Academy), who drained three free-throws in the final 32 seconds to help ice the victory. Scott Theisen (Sr./Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park) once again filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and five steals, and played a key role in helping to fend off an Augsburg squad that knocked down a scorching 70 percent of its second-half shots.
After playing the Auggies (10-2, 5-2 MIAC) evenly over the first eight minutes of the contest, Carleton took control of the matchup with two extended scoring runs. Shane McSparron (So./Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley), who scored 14 points on the night, sparked a 12-2 spurt that gave the Knights a 22-15 lead with 9:04 left in the half.
Augsburg, who had only lost once in conference play entering the night, climbed within three points with 6:00 left in the first half, Carleton once again turned on the offensive jets. Five different players scored for the Knights as they put together a 12-4 run over the remainder of the period. That run, which included four of Carleton’s 12 first-half assists, helped the visitors take a 34-23 lead into the locker room.
The second half proved to be more of a test for the Knights. Augsburg, led by forward Dan Kornbaum, who dominated the paint with 29 points on a remarkable 14-of-17 shooting, jumped on Carleton early. A 12-3 Auggies run during the first four minutes of the half cut the Knights’ lead down to just two points at 37-35 with 16:30 still to play. After a back-and-forth 10-minute stretch, the Knights and Auggies found themselves knotted up at 54-54 with 6:16 left in the game.
Just as it looked like Augsburg, who was 8-of-13 (62 percent) from beyond the arc during the second half, might wrest the lead from Carleton, the Knights responded with a crucial 9-2 burst to give themselves some breathing room at 65-58 with 2:30 remaining. The Auggies clawed back to make it a three-point game with only 1:14 to go, but Sawatzke nailed a clutch triple to put Carleton back up by two possessions. It was his conference-best 38th three-point bucket of the year.
The Knights, who converted 80 percent from the free throw line during the second period, more than passed the test at the charity stripe down the stretch. Carleton hit seven free throws over the game’s final 32 seconds, holding off Augsburg for the victory.
The Knight’s next matchup will be at home on Saturday, Jan. 12 against Macalester College as part of a doubleheader. The Carleton College women’s team will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. with the men following at 3:00 pm. Both games will be broadcast on Knights Online and KDHL 920 AM.