St. Olaf 71, Bethany Lutheran 50 (Box) |

Men's basketball uses second half spurt to top Bethany in opener

Michael Abdella
November 15, 2011

NORTHFIELD, Minn.- After holding a two-point lead at halftime, the St. Olaf men's basketball team used a 26-8 run to start the second half to cruise to a 71-50 win over Bethany Lutheran in the season opener for both teams Tuesday evening at Skoglund Center.

The Oles led 31-29 at halftime after Bethany scored the last six points of the first half. Early in the second half, the Vikings tied the score at 33-33 just over two minutes into the second half when St. Olaf called a timeout.

After the timeout, the Oles scored seven straight points, starting a 26-8 run. The spurt covered the first ten minutes of the second half, as St. Olaf's lead ballooned from 31-29 to 57-37. Stu Neville keyed the run with a couple contested fade-away jumpers and a three-pointer.

After shooting 13-29 (44.8%) in the first half, including just 1-13 from behind the arc, the Oles shot a blistering 54.8% in the second half. St. Olaf outscored Bethany 40-21 in the second half, as the Vikings shot just 35% (7-20) after the break.

Bethany was plagued by turnovers throughout the game, as they coughed up the ball 23 times. The Oles capitalized on Bethany's turnovers, turning them into several easy layups at the other end. Alfred Jaryan had five of St. Olaf's 11 steals for the game and also had five assists.

St. Olaf was led by Neville's 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. The senior was 6-8 from the field and made both of his three-point attempts. First year Sterling Nielson, playing in his first collegiate game, pitched in with 14 points on 6-11 shooting and also had five rebounds. Connor Gunderson was the third Ole in double-figures, scoring 11 points to go along with five boards.

Gavin Kroehler was Bethany's top scorer on the night with 12 points. The junior forward shot just 3-10 but went to the line eight times, making five. Derek Peterson had nine points for the Vikings, who shot just 3-12 from behind the arc.

The Oles were playing without last season's leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and All-MIAC selection Bobby Fong. The senior guard sat out the game with a sore back. Sophomore guard Nathan Kuck, a key contributor off the bench last year for St. Olaf, also did not play due to having a boot on his foot.

St. Olaf continues their non-conference schedule on Monday when they travel to Decorah for a game against Luther. After that game, the Oles will travel to California where they will play two games over Thanksgiving break.

Contact media relations specialist Mike Ludwig at (507) 786-3834 or