Carleton overpowers Gustavus; Johnnies still unbeaten (MIAC Men)

It’s been a while since we dropped in on the MIAC, but last night we travelled down to Northfield to watch the Carleton Knightsmen take on the Gusties of Gustavus Adolphus. A month ago, Gustavus was tied for 1st at 5-0, but after Carleton overpowered the Gusties last night 78-66, Gustavus is just 2-4 in the New Year. Meanwhile, Carleton is 4-2 in the New Year, and so the 2 are now tied for 3rd place in the MIAC at 7-4. St. John’s defeated St. Mary’s 84-59 last night while Hamline beat Bethel 73-61. If the MIAC playoffs started today, the unbeaten Johnnies and the 7-3 Pipers would get the 1st round byes and home court for the semi-finals.

Carleton and Gustavus, meanwhile, will be scrapping for position in those playoffs. Right now they’re both in, along with Concordia, who had a bye last night, and St. Olaf, who defeated Macalester 73-61. But while Carleton is movin’ up, the Gusties are movin’ down and need to regain their mojo here in the final month of the regular season. As we mentioned, the Gusties were 5-0 in the MIAC a month ago and defeated Carleton 76-62 at home on November 29.

This time, Carleton was stronger with the ball, stronger to the rim on both dribble drives and cuts, much stronger in finishing at the rim, most specifically 6-1 junior guard Luke Harris (from California) and 6-7 senior post Matt Banovetz from Holy Angels. Gustavus slowed down Harris, the MIAC’s 2nd leading scorer, for awhile but in the 2nd half he did what he does–he got to the FT line, making 7-of-9. For the seasons, he’s now taken 148 FTs; nobody on either team has anywhere near half that many. Meanwhile, Banovetz scored on a variety of spins and dipsy-doos; guard Spencer Goetz scored 13 points on 6-of-8 2-pointers, mostly at the rim; and freshman Sam Koelling broke lose for 18 points, mostly in the 1st half. The 6-3 Goetz and 6-4 guard Alex Gibbens were terrific on defense, making the Gusties’ Spencer Swanson, the MIAC’s leading scorer, work excessively hard to get his 18 points.

By way of contrast, the Gusties neither got to the rim nor finished at the rim like Carleton did. Carleton’s bigs (Banovetz and Koelling) outplayed the Gusties’ bigs (Swanson and Wyatt Olson) 34 points and 17 rebounds to 23 and 11. And Carleton’s 3 starting guards (Harris, Goetz, Gibbens) outscored the Gusties’ guards (Brady Kienitz, Jonah Anderson and Evan Wieker) 35-29. There wasn’t a single position anywhere on the floor where Gustavus had an advantage. What is surprising is that they stayed within 12 points in the end. I think one can say that Carleton simply has better talent than Gustavus, or so it appeared last night.

Along with Carleton, the Johnnies and Hamline, the Augsburg and St. Olaf men also won last night. Augsubrg clobbered St. Scholastica 101-63 whiel St. Olaf defeated Macalester but holding the Scots’ pre-season MIAC POY Caleb Williams to just 6 points. So, as we noted, if the MIAC playoffs opened today St. John’s and Hamline would get 1st round byes. Meanwhile, Carleton, Gustavus, St.Olaf (all at 7-4) and Concordia (6-4) would advance. Right now, if I’m Gustavus, St. Olaf or Concordia, I’m thinking I don’t necessarily want to draw Carleton in one of those games.

Soon, we’ll get an update on the MIAC women.