Carleton knocks off No. 8 Saint John’s, 66-63

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NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Kent Hanson finished with game highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds, as the Carleton College men's basketball team knocked off No. 8-ranked Saint John's University by a 66-63 margin at West Gym. The impact of senior role players Joh Farmer and Noah Plewa cannot be overlooked as that duo impacted play at both ends of the floor and helped hold the Johnnies to a season-low point total, 22 below SJU's season average.

Saint John's (13-2, 9-1 MIAC) entered the day on a 12-game win streak—including a 9-0 mark in MIAC play—and had won its last six games by an average of 33.0 points. The Johnnies started the day leading the NCAA Division III in three statistical categories: overall field-goal percentage (.572), three-point field-goal percentage (.445), and rebounding margin (plus-16.1). Carleton (6-10, 4-7 MIAC) limited the visitors to 38 percent shooting in the first half and 43 percent overall. Saint John's was only 5-of-23 (22 percent) from beyond the arc, and the Knights out-rebounded their guests 37-36, including 14 offensive rebounds for the Knights.

Farmer may have only scored three points, but he played a huge part in limiting David Stokman—the Johnnies' leading scorer this season and a .535 shooter from three-point range—to only two points in the first half and eight points overall, including a 0-for-10 performance from beyond the arc. Farmer also drew two offensive fouls in the second half.

Meanwhile, Plewa was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, matched his career high with 10 points, pulled down a career-best eight rebounds, and was a key part of the Knights' post rotation that limited Saint John's center Lucas Walford to only two points, well below his season average of 11.9 points.

After gridlock at 16-16 at the 8:11 mark of the first half, Saint John's poured in seven consecutive points to lead 23-16 and force a Carleton timeout. The Knights sliced away at the deficit, coming within two at 27-25 after sophomore Matthew Stritzel knocked down three free throws with 3:27 remaining in the first half.

Stokman, who came into the affair leading the Johnnies at 15.9 points per game, finally got on the scoreboard at the 2:05 mark to help his team to a 32-27 lead at the break.

The visitors opened the second half on fire and opened up their largest lead of the contest at 43-30 barely three minutes after play resumed. Carleton showed no signs of quitting, though, as the Knights went on a 10-2 run of their own to get within five at 45-40 at the 11:58 mark.

The Johnnies still held a 52-46 advantage with 6:45 remaining before Hanson drained a 3-pointer to spark the Knights on a 9-0 run. Stritzel followed with back-to-back triples to give the Carleton a 55-52 lead.

Roughly one minute later, Saint John's retook the lead on a Baker make, but Hanson converted an old-fashioned three-point play, handing the Knights a 58-56 edge with just under four minutes remaining.

After a tie at 60-60 with 1:24 to go, Stokman went to the charity stripe and cashed in 1-of his 2- attempts, inching the Johnnies ahead at 61-60. On the other end, Hanson converted another tough layup to give the Knights a 62-61 lead with 42.5 seconds left.

Stokman miss a heavily contested shot on the next possession. Stritzel came up with the rebound, was fouled, and went 1-for-2 at the free throw line, putting Carleton up 63-61.

On the Johnnies' next offensive possession, Stokman committed a player control foul against Farmer, giving the ball back to the Knights at a crucial juncture. Saint John's fouled Stritzel on the inbound, and the sophomore promptly converted on both attempts, making it a 65-61 game with 12.9 seconds left.

With the Knights guarding the three-point line, Stokman elected to take a layup. Carleton turned the ball over on the inbound, but the Knights immediately got the ball back after Jubie Alade committed a traveling violation.

Joe Thursby then hit one free throw to put the Knights up 66-63. With just 2.6 seconds left, Stokman got the ball and heaved from half court, but the shot caromed off the backboard, sealing the spectacular victory for the Knights.

Stritzel finished with 16 points, with 11 of them coming in the second half. Carlston McKenzie made his first collegiate start and contributed eight points and six rebounds.

With his 26-point effort today, Hanson climbed into 26th place on Carleton's all-time scoring list and now has 1,038 career points.

Carleton will hit the road on Monday, Jan. 21 for another conference battle at Concordia College-Moorhead at 7:00 p.m.