Putting up a team high 26 points on the afternoon, senior Tom Sawatzke ‘13 joined exclusive company as just the 26th Carleton College men’s basketball player to tally 1,000 career points. Sawatzke’s historic effort, which was one point shy of his career high and marked his 12th career 20-point game, played a key role in a Knights’ comeback that came up just short. The hosts from Bethel University edged out Carleton by a final tally of 74-73.
Sawatzke scored 15 of his 17 second-half points as part of Carleton’s (10-8, 7-6 MIAC) comeback from a double-digit deficit down the stretch. He was helped out on the offensive end by classmate Tyler Goetz ‘13, who knocked down a career-best five three-pointers as part of a 15-point performance. Scott Theisen ‘13, coming off a triple-double on Wednesday, once again stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Unfortunately, three double-digit offensive performances and a 30-12 point advantage from beyond the arc was not enough for the Knights to overcome Bethel’s (12-7, 8-6 MIAC) massive advantage in close-range scoring, as the Royals boasted a 48-18 gap in points in the paint. That figured was padded by Taylor Hall’s 37-point, 14-rebound effort for the hosts.
In what was a closely contested first half, Bethel landed the first blow with a 13-4 game-opening run. Not to be outdone, Carleton responded with its own 13-6 streak, pulling the score to within 19-17 with 9:30 to play in the period. Hall tallied 20 of his points in the opening period as Bethel held a slight 37-34 edge going into halftime.
Although the second-half started out evenly, the Royals found their groove at the 15:50 mark. Over the game’s next four minutes, Bethel went on a 10-0 run to take its largest lead of the contest at 56-44. A couple minutes later, with 9:15 to play, Bethel still led by a dozen points, but Sawatzke began to exert himself and the Knights started their comeback.
Sawatzke drained a three-pointer with 9:07 still to play. That basket pushed him over the 1,000-point threshold for his career and ignited an extended 19-6 Carleton run. The scoring streak gave Carleton its first lead of the game, 65-64, after Taylor Hanson ‘14 drained a pair of free throws with 4:09 to play, putting the home team on its heels.
Bethel, however, responded by knocking down a three pointer on the next possession, but Sawatzke’s hot-hand kept the Knights comeback hopes alive. The senior point guard hit jump-shots to knot the game back up twice over the next 1:32, including one well-contested fade-away that made the score 69-69 with 1:23 left on the second-half clock.
Although the Royals built up a small 74-71 cushion after knocking down five free-throws in the final minute of play, Carleton had two chances to cap the comeback during the game’s final 30 seconds.
The first chance came with 17 seconds to go when Sawatzke put up a potentially game tying three-pointer that came up just short. However, the Knights out-hustled the Royals for a long rebounded, and Taylor ended up with the loose-ball. The forward then wisely signaled for a quick timeout with just 11 seconds left.
Coming out of the timeout, Carleton managed to get an open look from beyond-the-arc for Shane McSparron ‘15, but the sophomore’s shot bounced several times on the rim, refusing to fall. Sawatzke collected the rebound and made a layup as time expired, but the Knights were left with a disappointing, 74-73 heartbreaker.
While Hall carried the Royals at times, Bethel also go 15 points from Kyle Zimmerman and 11 more from Derek Wolhowe.
Carleton, who also dropped a game this past Wednesday against #2 ranked St. Thomas, will look to get back to its winning ways on Saturday, Feb. 2 at St. Mary’s.