Stu Neville hoists the goat trophy fans following a 73-69 overtime victory over Carleton on Saturday afternoon.
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Ole men outlast Knights in OT to win back goat

Michael Abdella
February 18, 2012

NORTHFIELD, Minn.- For the second time this year, the St. Olaf men's basketball team outlasted crosstown rival Carleton in overtime, reclaiming the Goat Trophy with a 73-69 win behind Stu Neville's 24 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday at Bob Gelle Court.

After topping the Knights in overtime earlier at West Gymnasium, the Oles needed to beat Carleton again in order for the Goat to switch hands for the first time since 2002-03. St. Olaf came back from seven points down in the final four minutes of regulation and eventually outlasted the Knights in overtime. Both of the St. Olaf wins in 2002-03 were also overtime wins.

Carleton led by as many as eight in the second half and held a 55-48 lead with 4:05 to play in the second half. St. Olaf scored nine straight points to take a 57-55 lead with 28 seconds left following a free throw by Sterling Nielson. Carleton's Tom Sawatzke then nailed a jumper with 16 seconds left and Nathan Kuck missed a jumper at the buzzer as the teams headed to overtime.

In the extra session, St. Olaf got off to a quick start, scoring the first four points on layups from Nielson and Stu Neville. Sawatzke almost immediately hit another clutch basket, this time a three, to cut the deficit to one. Neville's three midway through overtime was again answered by one from Sawatzki to cut the Ole lead to 70-69 with 22 seconds left. Neville then hit two free throws to bump the lead to three and the Knights turned the ball over on an in-bounds pass following a timeout with 11 seconds left. Nielson was fouled and made the first of two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Entering the game, St. Olaf had the third seed locked up for the playoffs, while Carleton was playing their final game of the year having been eliminated from playoff contention. However, meetings between the Northfield rivals are usually tight.

St. Olaf got off to a quick 7-2 start in the first three minutes of the game. A three from Neville and a two-handed dunk by Bobby Fong highlighted the Oles early spurt. However, the Knights hung around in a very evenly played opening half. Carleton's largest lead of the half was five points with 5:46 to play before halftime after a layup by Shane McSparron. Michael Grinnell's layup with 1:06 left was the last scoring of the first half and the teams headed to the break tied at 32-32 after Fong's layup refused to go down at the buzzer.

Early in the second half, Carleton looked sharper than the Oles. The visitors made six of their first seven shots after halftime to take a 44-36 lead six minutes into the second half. Five different Knights scored during the 12-4 run to start the half. St. Olaf was unable to chip away at the Carleton lead until their 9-0 run in the final few minutes of the game.

St. Olaf got big games from their top two scorers, Fong and Neville. Neville scored 24 points while playing all 45 mintues, nine of which came in overtime, and added 10 rebounds to record another double-double. The senior forward's strong day included making three of five threes. Fong shot 8-20 from the field en route to scoring 20 points in 41 minutes. First-year guard Nielson added 14 points, making all five of his shots from the field while also hitting some big free throws down the stretch.

The Knights were balanced offensively, as four players were in double figures. Caleb Rosenow led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Sawatzke added 15 points. Sawatzke made just two of 11 threes but both of them came in the extra session. McSparron and Grinnell each had 12 for the Knights. Grinnell shot 6-7 from the field and also pulled in eight rebounds.

St. Olaf finished the game shooting 41.5% (27-65) from the field, including 5-6 in overtime. Carleton shot the ball better, finishing 27-57 (47.4%). Neither team shot the ball well from behind the arc. The Oles shot 6-22 and the Knights were 5-21 from three. The hosts took good care of the ball, committing just seven turnovers in 45 minutes of play, while Carleton turned the ball over 12 times.

Before the game, St. Olaf was already locked in as the third seed for the MIAC playoffs. The Oles (16-9, 15-5 MIAC) will host sixth-seeded Bethel (15-10, 11-9 MIAC) on Wednesday night at Bob Gelle Court. Carleton ends their season with a 9-16, 6-14 mark.

Contact media relations specialist Mike Ludwig at (507) 786-3834 or ludwigm@stolaf.edu.