NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Make it 11 wins in a row for the Carleton College men’s basketball team. Six players finished in double figures, led by 17 points apiece for Beau Smit (Sr./White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Lake) and Kent Hanson (Fy./Saint Paul, Minn./Saint Paul Academy), as the Knights rolled to an 84-58 victory over Concordia College and clinched a home game in the MIAC Playoffs later this month.
“A very impressive performance again by our team tonight,” said Carleton head coach Guy Kalland. “We set a nice tone during the first few minutes of the first half and were able to sustain a solid level of play for the majority of the game. A nice way to close out our last regular season home game at West Gym to be sure.”
Carleton (15-8, 12-8 MIAC) never trailed in tonight’s contest and is guaranteed a MIAC Playoff berth for the first time since the 2012-13 season and the 21st time overall. After starting the conference schedule just 1-6, the Knights’ recent run has them sitting alone in third place in the standings. With two games remaining in the regular season, Carleton now has an outside chance at a share of the conference title.
It did not take long for the Knights to get rolling this evening as the first 90 seconds of the game saw a 3-pointer from Smit and two more triples by Mitchell Biewen (Sr./Golden Valley, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong) to hand Carleton a quick 9-0 edge. The Knights would go on to convert on 10-of their first-12 shots, including five 3-pointers to blaze their way to a dominant 26-8 lead with 13:11 to go in the first half. At the end of the first period, the scoreboard read 44-29 in Carleton’s favor.
The Cobbers (12-11, 9-9 MIAC) could do little to slow the Knights’ offensive roll after intermission, and the home squad built its lead up to 30 at one point late in the game as Carleton avenged its last loss, a 63-55 setback in Moorhead, Minn. back on Jan. 11.
The Knights did not definitively dominate the painted area as has been the norm during the other games of the win streak, but tonight they did not need to. Carleton shot 53.3 percent from beyond the arc and scored 16 points off of 14 Concordia turnovers. Meanwhile, the Knights only turned the ball over eight times and moved the ball around with efficiency, totaling 17 assists to the Cobbers’ seven.
Smit and Hanson combined to go 15-of-20 overall from the field. Biewen need only five shots to tally his 11 points, a scoring total matched by Joh Farmer (So./Roseville, Minn.), who dished out a game-best five assists. Junior Kevin Grow (Circle Pines, Minn./Centennial) was Carleton’s fifth player in double figures with 10 tallies, six rebounds, and three blocks. Notching a game-high 14 rebounds was Freddie Gillespie (So./Saint Paul, Minn./East Ridge), who scored all seven of his points in the second half including an offensive rebound-slam dunk combination early in the second half.
Zach Kinny finished with 12 points to lead Concordia, which also received an 11-point effort from Austin Nelson. Dylan Alderman, who entered the evening as the Cobbers’ leading scorer this season, was limited to only one field goal and four total points. Forward Austin Heins had been leading the MIAC with a .625 field-goal percentage but went just 3-of-10 against the Carleton defense.
While the 11-game win streak and the playoff berth are nice, the Knights are already focused on their next game. Carleton will look to reclaim the Goat Trophy for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign when the Knights make the short cross-town trip to rival St. Olaf College on Wednesday, Feb. 15. It will be a women’s-men’s doubleheader with the ladies starting at 5:45 p.m. and the men slated for a 7:45 p.m. tipoff. A live audio broadcast will be available on KDHL 920AM in the Northfield/Faribault area and worldwide via Knights Online.