NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- On Senior Day at West Gym, the three members of the class of 2013 made sure it would not be their final home game. Scott Theisen (Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park) finished with 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and career-high seven steals as the Carleton College men’s basketball team secure the No. 4 seed in the MIAC Playoffs with a 75-59 win over Hamline University. Classmate Tom Sawatzke (Monticello, Minn./Monticello) added 13 points and three steals, while senior Tyler Goetz (Chaska, Minn./Chaska) dished out five of the team’s 24 assists on this day.
Carleton (15-10, 12-8 MIAC) needed a victory to clinch a spot in the postseseason and leaned heavily on forward Taylor Hanson (Jr./St. Paul, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) in the early going. The junior scored 14 of his career-high 22 points prior to halftime.
The Pipers (8-17, 5-15 MIAC) scorched the nets early, making 8-of their first-9 shots to grab a 19-15 lead midway through the opening period. Theisen drained a three-pointer to start the comeback as he and Hanson accounted for 10 points during Carleton’s subsequent 12-3 run, giving the hosts a 27-22 lead. The Knights would not trail again.
Hamline managed to work the lead down to just three points at 39-36 with 16:46 to play in the second half, that is as close as the visitors would get. The second half belonged to the Knights.
Starting at the 15:46 mark, Carleton put together a 17-7 run to build a 56-43 lead, at that point its largest of the game, with 9:38 to go. After that run, which featured seven points, four boards, three assists, and one block from Theisen, the Knights never looked back.
Following a bucket by Hanson, which gave him his career-high 22nd point of the game at the 6:25 mark, Goetz nailed a three-pointer to push the lead out to 68-51 with just 5:37 left. The Carleton advantage grew as large as 21 down the stretch, and the scoreboard read 75-59 at the final buzzer.
Hanson pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and added three assists a two steals. John Eckert (Fy./North Judson, Ind./North Judson) contributed 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Noah Aguiree had 18 points to pace Hamline. The Pipers shot 67 percent in the first half and 58 percent for the game but were forced into 23 turnovers, which the Knights converted into 25 points.
For the Knights, the victory was a must win. With both Bethel and Saint John’s sealing victories earlier in the afternoon, Carleton needed to win its regular-season finale to qualify for the MIAC playoffs. By taking care of business, the Knights not only clinched a third career berth in the MIAC tournament for this year’s senior class, but secured a home game in the first round.
Carleton will kick off the tournament as host to Bethel University at 7:30 on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The two squads split the regular season series, with each team pulling out a narrow victory on its home floor. Carleton notched a 64-62 win on Dec. 1, and Bethel held on 74-73 in the Jan. 26 matchup.
Live stats and live video of the MIAC Playoff quarterfinal can be found on Knights Online.