Royals Continue MIAC Playoffs with Semifinal Contest at Top-Seeded St. Thomas

The Bethel University men's basketball team extended their season Wednesday night when defeating Concordia College 67-62 in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs. The Royals now advance to the semifinal round on Friday, where they will play the No. 1-seeded Tommies for a berth in the conference title game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Schoenecker Arena. All Bethel fans are encouraged to wear navy blue.

#5 Bethel (18-8) #1 St. Thomas (23-2) Previous matchups • January 9 | St. Paul, Minn. | St. Thomas 69, Bethel 66 • February 13 | Arden Hills, Minn. | St. Thomas 75, Bethel 59 How they got here • Bethel defeated Concordia in the MIAC quarterfinals on Wednesday • St. Thomas received a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular-season title Game Notes Bethel University • Bethel is now 3-1 in their last four playoff games dating back to last year's MIAC quarterfinals and 4-2 under head coach Doug Novak. • The Royals have outscored their opponents 136-98 in the paint during the last four playoff games. • BU's matchup with UST Friday is the sixth postseason meeting between these two teams since 2008. • Bethel has gone 0-5 against St. Thomas since 2008 with all five games being on the road. The Royals lost by one point (68-69) in 2008 and three points (63-696) in 2015. Who to watch? • Derek Magnuson has recorded 25 points and 22 rebounds in the two regular-season meetings. • Brycen Wojta has averaged nearly 16 points per game in his last six contests, including a two 20-point performances on the road. • Bridgeport Tusler and Trevor Hall rank No. 1 and 2 among all MIAC players in steals per game. Tusler, who averages 2.5 on the season, has tallied 3.2 in his last 11 games. University of St. Thomas • The Tommies have made it to the title game in each of the last three seasons with their only loss coming to St. Olaf in 2014. • St. Thomas has compiled a record of 112-9 on their home floor over the past nine seasons, including a 9-1 mark this year • UST's six seniors have collected 99 wins during their career • The Tommies are ranked No. 7 in the latest Top 25 poll and No. 1 in the NCAA Division III West Region. • UST defeated the Royals 66-63 in last year's championship game, outscoring BU 30-3 in bench points. Who to watch? • Ryan Saarela has ten double-doubles this season and is averaging 12.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. His shooting average of 61.5 percent ranks No. 2 among all Division III players. • Taylor Montero ranks No. 6 nationally in 3-point shooting percentage (47.0)—converting 63-of-126 on the season. • Cortez Tillman leads the Tommies in scoring with 14.4 points per game. Tillman went 0-for-6 in the regular-season finale, but prior to that he averaged 17.7 points per game in three games against St. Olaf, Bethel, and Augsburg.

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