ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Senior guards Mitchell Biewen and Beau Smit each hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with matching game-highs of 15 points to lead the red-hot Carleton College men's basketball team to its seventh consecutive victory, this one a 69-51 road victory over Bethel University.
"A very intense defensive battle in the first half between two determined teams," said Carleton head coach Guy Kalland. "We were able to get our offense rolling in the second half and held on for a nice MIAC road win."
Carleton (11-8, 8-6 MIAC) owns the stingiest defense in the conference, and the Knights did not disappoint as they shut held the conference's highest scoring offense to 33 points below its season average.
The high-powered Bethel (14-6, 10-5 MIAC) offensive attack entered play averaging a MIAC-best 84.3 points and shooting 49.6 percent overall. The Royals had been previously held under 70 points only twice this season, but Carleton limited Bethel to season lows of 31.4 percent shooting and 51 points.
In what could only be described as a defensive struggle early on, the Knights found themselves trailing 10-4 with 13:20 remaining in the first half. The Carleton defense held the Royals to only three points over the rest of the period and carried a 16-13 lead into intermission. That is the fewest points allowed by Carleton in a half since yielding only 13 to Bethel in the first round of the 2013 MIAC Playoffs.
After the disappointing first half offensively, the Knights started firing on all cylinders, shooting a blistering 63 percent after halftime, including 4-of-6 beyond the arc. The Knights were a perfect 15-of-15 at the charity stripe during that stretch.
Carleton—which has not trailed in the second half during the win streak—scored on its first three possessions after intermission and methodically extended its lead to 20 points at 50-30 with 8:57 remaining. The Royals finally found some rhythm on the offensive end, but all Bethel could do was cut the deficit to 11 as the Knights executed down the stretch to eventually put the game away by a 69-51 tally.
Despite the poor first-half performance, Carleton shot 47.1 percent from the field in the game, including 43 percent from beyond the arc. As has been the case the duration of this seven-game stretch, Carleton dominated the painted area. The Knights outrebounded the Royals 41-26 and doubled Bethel's interior points, 28-14.
Smit scored all 15 of his points after halftime, and Biewen tallied nine points over the final eight minutes to help seal the victory. Henry Bensen contributed a career-best seven points in his eight minutes off the bench, while Joh Farmer dished out a career-best six assists.
On the interior, Kent Hanson tallied 12 points and eight rebounds. Rounding out Carleton's double-digit scorers was Kevin Grow, who added 10 points and eight boards. Sophomore big Freddie Gillespie pulled down a game-best 12 rebounds and added three blocks.
Trevor Hall paced Bethel with 13 points and seven boards. Carleton limited the Royals dynamic duo of Brycen Wojta and Bridgeport Tussler—who combined to average 29.3 points per game—to 14 total points on 3-of-19 shooting.
The Knights will look to extend their winning streak when they host Augsburg College on Saturday, Feb. 4 for a doubleheader. The women's game begins at 1 p.m., while the men's game is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. start.