NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- In his 29th season at the helm of the Carleton College men’s basketball program, head coach Guy Kalland notched his 400th career victory as his squad overcame a double-digit deficit and defeated Macalester College by a score of 63-56. The victory saw four Knights reach double-digits in scoring, led by senior Scott Theisen (Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park), who scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. He added seven rebounds, five assists and two steals to the stat line.
“As any coach will tell you, winning one game in a row everyday feels pretty good,” said Coach Kalland, who is just the seventh coach from the MIAC—and third among active coaches behind Saint John’s Jim Smith (746-531) and Gustavus’ Mark Hanson (429-191)—to reach the 400-win plateau. Kalland now ranks 30th among active NCAA Division III coaches in victories and is the third D-III coach to reach 400 wins this season joining Todd Raridon of North Central (Ill.) on Nov. 20, 2012, and Jonathan Halpert from Yeshiva University on Dec. 6, 2012.
Carleton (8-5, 5-3 MIAC) received a key 15-point contribution from point guard Tom Sawatzke (Sr./Monticello, Minn./Monticello), and first-year John Eckert (North Judson, Ind./North Judson) played an important role on the interior, working his way to 11 points with 11 boards for his first career double-double.
After the Knights scored the game’s first bucket to take their lone lead of the first half, Macalester (4-9, 1-7 MIAC) opened with a flurry, making 7-of its first-10 shots to build a 20-7 advantage with 12:40 remaining in the opening period. That burst included a quartet of three-pointers, and the Scots drained 6-of-11 (55 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half.
Kalland, operating with a shorter rotation than normal due to injury, guided the Knights back as his squad methodically chipped away at the deficit. Carelton found itself down by just five points after a put-back layup by Theisen with 4:20 left in the half. The Knights kept it close the rest of the period, and trailed 34-30 heading into halftime.
After watching Macalester shoot 52 percent overall over the first half, the Knight defense took over and limited the Scots to just 29 percent over the final 20 minutes, a period that saw five lead changes and was defined by two key runs for Carleton.
The first of those was an 8-0 spurt early in the second half and was capped by a Tyler Goetz (Sr./Chaska, Minn./Chaska) three-pointer at the 16:02 mark. That basket, one of the just two three-pointers for the Knights on the day, gave Carleton a 38-37 lead, its first since the opening moments of the contest. The next ten minutes saw the momentum shift back-and-forth, and Carleton clung to a 51-50 lead with 6:00 left on the clock.
The Knight defense took over, keeping the Scots scoreless from the field over the next five minutes. The stretch, in which the Knights converted four straight layups as part of a critical 8-1 run, pushed Carleton to a 59-51 lead, their largest of the afternoon, with 2:47 to play. The defense remained staunch, and the Knights hit enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Despite a 1-for-7 showing beyond the arc, Carleton shot 50 percent in the second half due to improved shot selection. Forward Taylor Hanson (Jr./St. Paul, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) narrowly missed a double-double as he finished with 10 points and nine rebounds to help the Knights establish a critical 32-20 point advantage in the paint.
During a post-game recognition of his accomplishment, Kalland said, “You need three things to get to 400 wins. The first is you have to coach a long time. The second is to have very talented, hard-working and competitive individuals, who carry themselves with class at all times and are team oriented. To have kids at Carleton that are into the learning process every day and want to get better. It’s not beneath them to want to aspire to the non-glamorous aspects of the game because they know it’s going to benefit the team. These high-character kids are from high-character families, and it’s great to have their support.
“Most importantly, I have the greatest wife in the world. I don’t think it’s possible to have a better basketball wife than Linda.”
Carleton immediately turns its attention to another squad with an accomplished head coach as the Knights travel to St. Peter, Minn. to take on Mark Hanson’s Gustavus squad on Monday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Live audio of the contest will be available on KDHL 920 AM and Knights Online.