The Bethel University men's basketball team picked up a significant win over Carleton College Wednesday night thanks to a 65-60 result in the Robertson Center Gym. The Royals (16-8, 11-8 MIAC) and Knights (13-11, 10-9 MIAC) had matching records going into tonight's contest, but BU's victory created space between the two squads and sealed a playoff spot for Bethel heading into Saturday's regular season finale at Hamline.
BU's biggest advantage throughout the night was their defensive intensity. The Royals forced Carleton into 15 turnovers, opposed to their six, which led to a 17-6 point-differential in points scored off of turnovers. Bethel also grabbed 10 offensive boards, compared to the Knights' four.
The Royals led by six after the opening 20 minutes of play, but the Knights whittled the gap to two in the opening 2:08 of the second half. Bethel never trailed, however, and managed to maintain a healthy spread in the final 17:52. Carleton managed to cut a nine-point deficit with 53 seconds remaining down to three, but BU iced the game with a pair of free throws at the end.
Bridgeport Tusler led Bethel with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals in 28 minutes played. His sidekick in the back court, Brycen Wojta, finished with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Derek Magnuson just missed a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds, while Trevor Hall added nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Kevin Grow led Carleton with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in 38 minutes played. Tianen Chen added 16 points and five assists. The Knights finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line.
With one game remaining in the regular season, Bethel knows their playoff fate is secure. What they don't know yet is what seed they'll earn and who they'll face. With so many questions still unanswered, the Royals will wait until Saturday to learn of their opponent and location for Wednesday night's postseason game.