ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – The St. Olaf College men's basketball team improved to 5-0 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), as senior Austin Korba had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Oles to a 63-54 road victory over Bethel University on Wednesday evening at the Robertson Center Gym.
Korba scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to help St. Olaf (6-4, 5-0 MIAC) outscore Bethel (6-5, 3-3 MIAC) by a 38-24 margin in the final 20 minutes. The senior shot 9-for-17 from the field in the game while recording his first double-double of the season and the second 20-point, 10-rebound game of his career.
Korba was the lone Ole in double figures in the game, as juniors Troy Diggins Jr. and Nate Albers chipped in with nine points apiece. Junior Noah Beck added eight points for St. Olaf, which shot an even 50.0 percent (12-for-24) from the field in the second half after shooting just 33.3 percent (10-for-30) before the half.
Bethel led 30-25 at the break before starting the second half on an 8-0 to take a 13-point, its largest of the game, with 17:02 remaining. Down by 13, St. Olaf put together an 8-0 run of its own, capped by a Diggins Jr. three-pointer, to cut the deficit back to five with 12:02 to go.
A pair of three-pointers by Albers helped the Oles trim the Royals' lead to just three, 43-40, with 9:20 on the clock before Korba took over. With St. Olaf down 54-51, the senior scored his team's next 12 points to help the Oles take the lead.
Korba broke a 47-47 tie with a three-pointer with 5:24 remaining to give St. Olaf its first lead since 21-19 with 7:36 left in the first half but Bethel scored the next five to go back ahead by two with under five minutes to go. Another Korba make from behind the arc put the Oles on top, 53-52, with 4:32 to play.
With St. Olaf clinging to a two-point lead and 2:26 to go, senior Ben Scheffley found classmate Frank Delaney for a jumper to give the Oles' a four-point advantage and Delaney hit a pair of free throws with 1:18 left to make it a two-possession lead. St. Olaf forced a turnover on the next Bethel possession before a Korba layup sealed the win.
The Royals jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead in the first 3:31 of the game, as Matt Ambriz hit a pair of early three-pointers for the hosts. Trailing 11-3, the Oles responded with a 12-0 run, holding Bethel scoreless for nearly four minutes, to claim a 15-11 advantage with 13:43 left in the opening half.
From there, neither team led by more than three until a quick 5-0 run gave Bethel a 28-23 lead with 3:21 to go before the break. The Royals went into the locker room with a five-point cushion, 30-25, after holding the Oles to 2-for-13 from behind the arc in the half.
Derek Magnuson paced Bethel with a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 8-for-9 from the field. The Royals shot just 5-for-32 (15.6 percent) from behind the arc in the game, including 0-for-15 in the second half.
St. Olaf hosts Concordia College (Minn.) on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Skoglund Center in just its third home game of the season.