COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Despite a 23-point performance from Scott Theisen (Sr./Champlin Minn./Champlin Park) and a season-best 16 points from sophomore Shane McSparron (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview), the Carleton College men’s basketball team went cold down the stretch and absorbed a 73-66 setback at Saint John’s University. The loss is even harder to accept given that the Knights shot over 50 percent from the field and held a 10-point, second-half lead.
Most of the first period saw the two squads trading buckets, and Carleton(9-7, 6-5 MIAC) trailed by just three at 33-30 going into the locker room. The Knights seized the momentum immediately after intermission as Theisen and McSparron had four points apiece during the Knights 8-0 burst to start the second half.
Although the Johnnies (7-10, 6-6 MIAC) bounced back and knotted the score, 40-40, Carleton went on another scoring spree to seemingly take control of the contest. The Knights’ 15-5 run, sparked by three of Tom Sawatzke’s (Sr./Monitcello, Minn./Monticello) 14 points, pushed Carleton to a 55-45 lead with 8:04 left in the game.
That’s when everything started to unravel.
The Johnnies, who had been shooting 39 percent from the floor, suddenly could not miss and made making 8-of their next-9 shots. At the other end, Carleton—which was shooting nearly 60 percent—started to struggle putting the ball in the net. The Knights misfired on 5-of-6 shots and committed a pair of turnovers.
When the dust settled, the Johnnies had gone on a 20-3 run lasting nearly seven minutes, an outburst that converted their double-digit deficit into a seven-point lead. Saint John’s then made its eight free throws over the final 41 seconds to ice the game and earn Johnnies’ head coach Jim Smith his 750th career victory.
This was Theisen’s 11th career game with 20+ points and sixth this season. Mitchell Kuck had 19 points to pace the Johnnies, who had four players in double figures.
Carleton will look to bounce back on Wednesday, Jan. 23 when Concordia College—fresh off an upset of national No. 1 St. Thomas—comes to visit West Gym. Live coverage of both ends of the doubleheader, including high definition video and live stats, will be available via Knights Online.