Men's basketball stays in playoff hunt with win over Bethel
February 2, 2013
NORTHFIELD, Minn.- Sterling Nielsen scored 21 points to help the St. Olaf men's basketball team stay in the MIAC playoff hunt with a 79-73 MIAC win over Bethel on Saturday afternoon at the Skoglund Center.
Nielsen's 21 points came on 8-for-13 shooting from the field for St. Olaf (8-12, 7-8 MIAC). Justin Pahl added 15 points on 4-for-6 from the floor and made all six of his free throws. Pahl also handed out a game-high five assists.
Bethel (12-9, 8-8 MIAC) was led by JD Robinson's game-high 24 points. Robinson was 9-for-13 overall and 5-for-7 from behind the arc. The Oles held Taylor Hall, the MIAC's leading scorer, to 11 points. Hall and Robinson were joined in double figures by Kyle Zimmerman (13), Quinn Gorski (10), and Jared Nelson (10).
A Nelson three had Bethel up 52-48 with 10:21 to play but the St. Olaf backcourt of Nielsen and Pahl took over in the closing ten minutes. Nielsen and Pahl each scored nine points during a 24-10 run that spanned nearly ten minutes. The run was capped by back-to-back layups by Mason Braden that gave St. Olaf a 72-62 lead with under three minutes to play.
The first half was tightly contested as the biggest lead for either team was a four-point St. Olaf cushion. Robinson closed the half with five points in the final minute, including a three with 13 seconds to go but Nielsen answered with a buzzer-beating jumper from the top of the key to send the Oles to the locker room down 37-36.
The Oles shot 55.2 percent after the break and 53.7 percent for the game. St. Olaf also hit 16-of-20 free throws. Bethel shot 56.0 percent in the first half and slowed down a little in the second half to finish at 50.0 percent for the game. Led by Robinson, the Royals hit nine-of-17 free throws.
St. Olaf got contributions off its bench from Nathan Kuck and Nick Hanson. Kuck scored nine points and Hanson added six points and six rebounds.
The Oles have now won three of their last four MIAC games. St. Olaf travels to Carleton on Monday night in the second half of a double-header between the cross-town rivals.