After last Wednesday’s big win over St. Thomas propelled the Carleton men’s basketball team into a tie for first place in the MIAC, the Knights hit the road this week and preyed on the conference’s cellar-dwellers like lions picking off the weakest wildebeests of the herd.
The Knights smoked Saint Mary’s on Saturday, 76-55, before besting Bethel on Monday, 72-60, and sneaking past a pesky Macalester team on Wednesday, 72-68. With the wins, Carleton kept pace with the Tommies, clinched a first-round bye and semifinal home game in the upcoming playoffs, and positioned itself to play for at least a share of the regular season title in tomorrow’s finale against St. Olaf.
Seth Jonker ’11 made Wednesday’s win a memorable one as he matched his career-high with 26 points and became the 25th member of Carleton’s 1,000-point club. As he has done time and time again, Jonker went into beast mode when his squad needed it most, scoring 10 points in the final three minutes as the Knights overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to knock off the upset-minded Scots (2-22, 2-17 MIAC) and avoid becoming the league’s laughing stock. The reigning MIAC Player of the Week, Jonker also grabbed 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and sixth of his career.
Jeremy Sutherland ’11, another thousand-point man, netted 18 on the evening along with a stat-stuffing line of five rebounds, five assists, and four steals. Carter Biewen ’11 tallied 11 points and five boards, including a clutch three-pointer with 1:45 remaining.
Monday’s triumph over lowly Bethel (6-17, 3-15 MIAC) was far less dramatic, as the Knights led from start to finish, shooting 53 percent from the field and winning 72-60. Sutherland scored a game-high 18 points and dished out five assists, while Tom Sawatzke ’13 continued his outstanding play at the point, tallying 13 points, six rebounds, and as usual, zero turnovers. Jonker was his beastly self, finishing with 15 points.
Meanwhile on Saturday, the Knights didn’t let the drive to Winona distract them from their task as they dominated Saint Mary’s, cruising to a 76-55 win, their 22nd consecutive victory over the hapless Cardinals (9-14, 4-14 MIAC). Jonker led four Knights in double figures with 20 points to go with seven boards. Caleb Rosenow ’12 provided an admirable complement in the post, dropping 17 points, while Sawatzke chipped in 11 and Biewen added 10. Carleton’s offense was a well-oiled machine as the Knights committed just three turnovers.
Although the Knights took care of business this week, they cannot afford to focus on the playoffs yet, with a streaking St. Olaf squad coming to campus tomorrow for the regular season finale. The playoff-bound Oles (17-7, 12-7 MIAC) are 11-3 since January 5, have won seven of their last eight, and will be hungry for a win after the Knights edged them on their home court last month to keep the Goat Trophy for another year.
Meanwhile, St. Thomas faces a Saint John’s team that must win to earn a playoff spot. No matter what happens in that game, a Carleton win tomorrow will earn the Knights at least a share of their first regular season conference title since 2006. That alone should be enough to get you to West Gym at 3:00 for what promises to be a rowdy end to the regular season.